MAIZE, Kan. (KSNW) — The high school basketball season is reaching mid-January. Midseason tournaments will be played soon across the state.
For some high schools — like McPherson — it’s not unusual for both the girl’s and boy’s teams to be undefeated at this point of the season, but it’s something that hasn’t happened at Hutchinson High School in at least a couple of decades.
The Hutchinson boys came over to Maize South last Friday night and upset the number-one-ranked team in Class 5A. Tuesday night, the Salthawks returned to beat Maize High, running their record to 7-0 for the first time in 20 years.
“It feels great. We’ve worked really hard,” said Hutch boys Head Coach Bryan Miller. “This has been a work in progress for two-and-a-half, three years now. So, this isn’t something that just happened overnight.”
“We’re hungry for more. 7-and-0, I know we can do better. Getting into tournament week, it’s going to be fun,” said senior forward Nick Lang.
Only three years ago, the Salthawks finished the season 1-19.
“We struggled a little bit, and now we got all the pieces that we can really make a run,” said Lang.
The Hutchinson girls are also a perfect 7-0, matching their best start since the early 2000s.
“I mean, we’re super excited. I think coming into the season, we really didn’t expect to be 7-0,” said senior point guard Josie McLean.
“I think we have a lot of girls that just expect a lot out of themselves and expect to hold themselves to a higher standard. And I think that is from a cultural standpoint. You really, really want that from your athletes,” said Hutch girls Head Coach Conor Reilly.
Both teams say they’re playing for each other.
“We’re blue-collar. We come from a blue-collar town, and we have a blue-collar approach. And everything we do is unselfish,” said Miller.
“We inspire each other. We want to do good for each other. We want to win for each other. We want to be there for each other at all times,” said McLean.
McLean transferred to Hutch from Nickerson, where she played with Ava Jones. The inspirational Jones suited up for the first time Tuesday night and scored her first two points of the season for the Panthers.
“You’re joking! Oh my gosh, that’s so cool! I’m so happy for her,” said McLean. “She is an amazing basketball player. I played with her since seventh grade. And she was like … she’s been my best friend for a long time. And you know, when that happened to her family, it was hard for everybody. Not just her. It was hard for everybody, and I know that no matter what happens, she’s going to come back, and she’s going to do amazing because that’s the type of person she is.”
“Absolutely, we’re inspired. Our hearts go out to her,” said Miller. “You know, that’s a tough situation. We’re absolutely inspired by her. And all of our guys know it. Know that situation. And it’s a testament that we tell them that at any given moment, this can be taken from you. So every day, be thankful. Be grateful for the opportunity that you have.”
Next up for Hutchinson is a visit from the Great Bend Panthers on Friday night.