Hoxie girls still rolling
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Hoxie High School basketball teams displayed its impressive mix of talent and experience - and several improvements - in back-to-back semifinal contests last Friday at the Quinter Castle Rock Classic.
The girls, currently on a 52-game winning streak, defeated Dighton 64-56 in a game marked by 21 points from junior Carly Heim and strong 3-point shooting, especially from sophomore Terran Hoyt, senior Gabi Spresser and Heim.
On Saturday, Hoxie defeated Ellis for the championship by the same margin. Both opponents were ranked; Hoxie is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, Division I and has won back-to-back state championships.
"I have been playing with these girls since I have been in kindergarten, and we have played together our whole lives and this is the year that I have been waiting for, and we are all readwwy to go out there and show everybody what we can do," Hoyt, daughter of coach Shelly Hoyt, said.
Then, the boys, known for their high-scoring offense behind senior guards Kade Spresser and Chase Kennedy, defeated Dighton, ranked seventh in Class 1A, Division II, 55-28. It marked the fewest points for the Hornets since a 59-27 loss to Tribune-Greeley County on Jan. 14, 2011.
The next night, Hoxie completed the team sweep with a 68-47 victory against an Ellis squad that won its semifinal contest with two buzzer-beaters.
Through five games, Hoxie has outscored teams by an average margin of 58-39. Last year, the margin was 58-52 after five contests.
"That was great for us," coach Aaron Dardis said. "That's what we said at halftime, and what we have said all along. We have to be able to win in a grind-it-out game, and the shots don't fall, but you can still win it with defense and rebounding."
Hoxie, ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, Division I, improved to 4-1 after a 59-18 victory Tuesday night against WaKeeney-Trego.
The girls are 5-0 following a 78-18 win versus the Golden Eagles. Hoxie hasn't lost since the finals of the Castle Rock Classic against Wichita Word of Life two years ago.
Coach Hoyt doesn't talk about the winning streak with a veteran group that has a four-year starter in Kristina Farber, two three-year starters in Heim and junior Lexi Schamberger, and Spresser and senior Natasha Allmer, Indians who have played significantly all four years. Coach Hoyt believes this season's squad isn't as deep as last year's 26-0 team, but is probably more talented among the core players.
"When one of us needs to score, we always have somebody that we can do it whether it's Tina or Lexi or Terran, we all just play together and we all just trust each other," Heim said.
Hoxie is long known for its hard work. Terran Hoyt said players routinely stay after practice to shoot or come over the house for a key.
"I have always loved the Lady Indians, I still love the Lady Indians, and it's the most amazing thing to be a part of, it's so incredible," Hoyt said. "Every practice, they are my best friends, they are my family. It's just so cool to ever be a part of something like that. I am really lucky."
Hoyt tries to make 300 shots on the shooting gun after each practice. Hoyt has a high arcing shot, a trait she believes comes from practice.
"The guns' net is pretty high, so I have got to get it over that," Hoyt said.
Last year, The boys' side opened 3-2 and was 3-3 before Christmas break last season before it ran off 17 straight wins once play resumed.
This year, Hoxie opened the year with a 69-54 loss to Wallace County, currently ranked No. 1 in Class 1A Division II. Last season, Hoxie fell 77-71 to the Wildcats.
In the last four games, Hoxie has won by 24, 27, 21 and 41 points. They've allowed just 31, 28, 47 and 18 points. Opponents have shot just 28 percent in the four games, including 4 of 36 from 3-point range.
"Good rotations, good ball pressure," Dardis said. "We really work on pressuring on misses. I think last year, the M.O. of our team was that we were great on makes, not as great on misses. That's something that we tried to develop on our defense, and I think (against Dighton) you saw the benefit of it."
Spresser had a back injury last spring and Dardis said, at one point, the team was worried the returning first team all-area selection wasn't going to play this season. However, Spresser has averaged 21 points and nine rebounds a game. Kennedy and junior Connor Katt have combined for 21 points, eight rebounds, six steals and five assists a contest.
"We are just thankful of each day that (Kade) gets and hopefully, he can keep doing what he is doing," Dardis said.