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Seabury Boys to Face Unbeaten Ashland
Seabury Academy's boys basketball team might boast a killer scoring trio and complimentary role players that love their jobs, but the Seahawks will have their hands full today in the first round of the Class 1A-Division I state tournament in Emporia.
With the lowest winning percentage of the eight teams vying for a 2012 state title, Seabury (13-10) drew the No. 8 seed and a match-up with No. 1 seed Ashland (23-0) at 3 p.m. today.
Seahawks coach Ashley Battles said Ashland, ranked No. 1 in 1A-DI by the KBCA, is, "without a doubt," the tournament favorite.
"I'm glad we play them first, off the bat," Battles said. "We've got plenty of time to prepare for them, plenty of time to fine-tune what we do on offense and defense."
When you see "23-0" next to a team on the bracket, Seabury senior Georgi Funtarov said, that commands automatic respect.
"It says you're a good team," Funtarov said of the Blue Jays' undefeated mark. "You can't be a bad team and have a 23-0 record."
Still, sophomore Seabury guard Khadre Lane indicated he and his teammates won't be intimidated because they're facing a the top team in the field.
"They're undefeated, yeah, but we're gonna try to give them their first loss," Lane said.
The Seahawks are hoping to embrace their status as the least heralded team at Emporia — No. 2 seed Lakeside Downs (22-1), No. 3 seed Udall (20-3), No. 4 seed Montezuma South Gray (19-4) and No. 5 seed Hoxie (18-4) all come in with better records and spots in the KBCA top 10, which doesn't include Seabury.
Funtarov said it could be an advantage for the Seahawks to show up at state with low expectations from outsiders.
"The whole season we've been underdogs," Funtarov said. "Nobody really knows who we are. They just know that we don't have a good record and when we show up people see that we actually can play."
And as far as those rankings go, Lane said Seabury will let its play do the talking.
"I think at the beginning of the season it kind of got to us a little bit," he said of not being ranked, "but it kind of motivated us to work harder. Now we don't really worry about it."
The Seahawks' attention, obviously, needs to be zeroed in on Ashland. Battles said the Blue Jays are a lot like Seabury, because they have a number of good players.
"They're a team of very strong athletes, with one exceptional player that would probably start on any team in the state, regardless of classification," Battles said, referring to Ashland senior swingman Jay Luerman. "The rest of their players are extremely solid basketball players who do everything."
Ashland has four players averaging seven or more points per game and the 6-foot-2 Luerman leads the way:
• No. 1, Jay Luerman, sr. — 23.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.2 spg, 2.3 apg, 68% FGs, 50% 3-pters
• No. 5, Austin Stebens, sr. — 9.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, 48% FGs, 39% 3-pters
• No. 4, Chance Stebens, sr. — 8.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 42% FGs
• No. 3, Grant Meininger, so. — 7.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 53% FGs
— Keep up with the game's progress today by following @LJWpreps on Twitter.