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TMP settles for split -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Shields strikes out 12 as Royals complete sweep -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Indian swimmers seventh in Salina -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

HHS softball splits with Salina South -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

HHS baseball swept at Salina South -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Final home games for Tigers -4/18/2014, 10:14 AM

Tiger softball No. 8 in first region rankings -4/18/2014, 10:13 AM

Indian track competes at Valley Center -4/18/2014, 10:13 AM

Hayes is KSU's next big 'Cat -4/17/2014, 10:44 AM

New group for Plainville track -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Otis track team deals with injuries, illness -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Jets land former Titan Chris Johnson -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

HDN Area Track & Field honor roll, April 17 -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Freeman winds up with N.Y. Giants -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Tigers win on grand slam -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Weber gets extension at K-State -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

HHS' Weigel becomes a Cowboy -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

Humburg jumping well for Ness City -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Doubles team rolls at HHS Invitational -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

HHS soccer improves to 6-2, beats Great Bend -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Prep golf results, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger tennis ends MIAA season in loss -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger golfers ninth in St. Charles, Mo. -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Track results, Redmen Relays, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys win at Ellsworth -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP softball sweeps Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP soccer suffers loss at Garden City -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys' golf third at Goodland -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP baseball rolls past Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

HHS baseball splits with Junction City -4/15/2014, 9:53 AM

TMP softball swept at Colby -4/15/2014, 10:10 AM

TMP golf begins season today -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

HHS soccer rallies for victory -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Rare time off for Tiger softball -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

KSU, WSU Barnstormers coming to Hays -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Watson wins Masters -4/14/2014, 10:08 AM

Royals swept by Twins -4/14/2014, 10:07 AM

Harvick wins at Darlington -4/13/2014, 6:51 AM

Royals ace James Shields struggles in loss to Twins -4/13/2014, 6:42 AM

K-State's Deante Burton feels ready to take his game up a notch -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

Former Jayhawks address football team about facing struggles -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

HHS basketball camp May 27 to 29 -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

Tigers’ Wolf second at K.T. Woodman -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

FHSU tennis drops pair of MIAA outings -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

FHSU softball 3-1 in weekend -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger offense shines in Spring Game -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger baseball 1-3 in series -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

Mattheyer jumps onto scene at Ellis -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

HHS golf finishes second in Garden City -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

HHS pitcher, catcher share chemistry -4/13/2014, 7:56 AM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
Team chemistry big for Tigers

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Team chemistry big for Tigers

Published on -2/18/2014, 12:16 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

In his 13 years as head coach, Mark Johnson has mainly coached high character, quality kids and kept the Fort Hays State University men's basketball team consistently a top 25 program. Last winter, Johnson remarked several times about his team's impressive character that helped win the school's first MIAA regular season championship.

This winter, Fort Hays returned some key cogs from last season's group, mainly sophomore point guard Craig Nicholson, senior forward Dwayne Brunson and senior guard Carson Konrade. Junior forward Tom Gabric is now a starter after he redshirted a year ago. Senior forwards Andrew Victoria and Marty Wendel have been key reserves for two years.

The Tigers have integrated multiple high-character players into the rotation, namely sophomore forward Jake Stoppel and junior guards Achoki Moikobu and James Fleming, all junior college pickups. Junior Jared Tadlock is a first-year transfer from NCAA Division I Miami (Ohio).

Fleming called Moikobu probably the best roommate he has ever had. Nicholson has complimented the backup guards several times when they've had good games.

"Outside of the gym, we are always together, and we all get along," Nicholson said. "We never argue with each other, but if we do, we always talk to each other, and we understand what's going on. We never let our differences get on the court. We all have such good chemistry."

This season's group stands at 20-4, 11-4 MIAA and has won 11 of 12 league games after an 0-3 start. While Northwest Missouri State University has a big lead in the race for the conference crown, FHSU's entire body of work -- especially a 10-3 mark in road/neutral games -- has moved the Tigers close to securing a NCAA Division II tournament berth.

"We are very close as a team," Fleming said. "We have very good chemistry, so whoever coach puts in the game, we have to do our job and that's how we get ahead."

As well, FHSU has an opportunity, with four regular season games left, to possibly host a regional. The Tigers are tied with Minnesota State-Mankato and University of Central Missouri for fewest losses in the Central Region, according to  masseyratings.com.

"We have good guys, high character guys, and I think that is why we are able to have success," Johnson said. "We have some really good players, but at the same time, there is not a whole lot of separation out there. We have guys that are good guys that want to win and then they allow us to coach them. You have to have that type to be successful."

On Wednesday, the Tigers travel to Washburn University (15-8, 8-8 MIAA) for the final road game of the regular season. Start time is 7:30 p.m. FHSU is 8-3 in true road games; a ninth road win would be the program's most since it went 10-0 in true road games in a 27-4 season in 2005-06, Johnson's best single season winning percentage.

The Ichabods have lost three in a row and five of six, including an 87-85 Tiger victory on Feb. 1 in Hays. The contest was similar to many this season for FHSU. Fort Hays lost a 17-point lead, trailed by three with 88 seconds left in overtime and came back and won with a game-winning jumper by senior Dwayne Brunson. On Saturday, FHSU forced more adversity in a home game against Pittsburg State University, one of the league's weaker teams, but one that has lost many close contests.

"They get along really well, because I think they have similar interests," Johnson said. "I think everybody on our team has a desire to do well, and a desire for our team to win games."

FHSU led 45-42  early in the second half and Brunson and Nicholson, the team's leading scorers at 17.7 and 17.6 points per contest, were out of the game. Nicholson enters Wednesday with 168 made free throws this season, one off the school record of Mark Wilson set in 1978-79.

Konrade also checked out of the game at the 16:06 mark and didn't re-enter until 8:32 remained. However, Fleming and Moikobu helped FHSU outscore the Gorillas 42-30 in the second half.

"We just stuck together, and when everybody started to come in on us, we came together," Fleming said.

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