A 73-67 overtime loss to Colby High during the Class 4A state tournament semifinals left the four seniors who suited up for the Tonganoxie High girls basketball team disappointed.
But afterwards coach Randy Kraft reminded his players they had posted an 83-14 record during their four years.
"They were pretty sad after the loss there at state. They kind of had their eyes on winning it all," Kraft said. "They didn't win state, but they've had a pretty successful career here."
Indeed Kraft, a repeat choice as the All-Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, led his team to a 23-3 record overall this winter and a 12-1 mark in Kaw Valley League play. After losing during the sub-state finals to Kansas City Sumner last year, he guided his Chieftains to a fourth-place state finish in 2007 with his assured, but calm, demeanor.
"He's mainly teaching us during practice," said point guard Ali Pistora, the All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year. "He's not the yell-in-your-face type. He's a quiet coach that everybody just listens to."
During his triumphant 2006-07 season, Kraft taught an up-tempo style characterized by in-your face defense that converted turnovers into quick points.
"I would consider myself a defensive coach," Kraft said. "We pressure the ball a lot."
Kraft has instilled that defensive mindset during his five years at Tonganoxie, where he also teaches agriculture education. Previously, he taught the same course at Crest High in Colony for 23 years while coaching girls basketball for the last 16.
Kraft played basketball at Gridley High before attending Kansas State University.
After this season he fondly remembered his team, including seniors Pistora, twin sisters Rachel and Rebecca Bogard and Amy Ostermeyer. That quartet won the league title four consecutive years, and Kraft praised their attitude and perspective before games.
"They had a lot of fun with it," he said. "That made it very enjoyable for me."