‘Just be thankful, grateful and blessed:’ Bishop Seabury rolls to 72-45 victory over Valley Heights in final game of the season
photo by: Braden Shaw
Manhattan — Despite the noise, cancellations and widespread uncertainty over the past 24 hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Seabury head coach Jonathan Raney continued to reassure his team to “control what we can control.”
“But this group is resilient, this group is used to that,” Raney said. “We take it a day at a time, anyway. I just told them, ‘Hey, count your blessings that we’re out here playing today. There’s a lot of people that, unfortunately, their seasons are over.'”
That resiliency helped push Seabury to a convincing 72-45 victory over Valley Heights in the first round of the Class 2A boys state tournament Thursday in Bramlage Coliseum at Kansas State University. Junior guard Zach Bloch led the Seahawks with 27 points, five assists and four steals.
“Well, we didn’t know if this game was going to happen,” Bloch said. “So we came in blessed that we were able to play and we really left it all out there on the floor. We really want to take every day like it’s our last because we never know when it’s going to end.”
Even though he fouled out with 2:21 left to play, Bloch was the best player on the floor.
“We know what we’re going to get out of Zach in big games,” Raney said. “He’s been doing it his whole career. So, did I know he was going to get 27 or whatever? No, but I did know he was going to control the game and make the right plays.”
The Seahawks also had two other players score in double figures with guards junior Stavian Jones (21 points) and senior Cobe Green (11 points).
“I couldn’t do it without them,” Bloch said. “We’re a whole team and I’m blessed to have those guys by my side.”
Amid cancellations in various other sports, KSHSAA state basketball tournaments across Kansas played on Thursday. Less than an hour after the completion of Seabury’s game, however, KSHSAA announced that the rest of the tournament will be canceled.
“Given the escalating concerns regarding COVID-19, the best decision for the safety of our student-athletes and spectators was to cancel the remainder of the championship tournament,” KSHSAA said in a statement.
Either way, Seabury and Valley Heights had a game to play Thursday night.
The Seahawks — who have spent several weeks this season as the No. 1 team in Class 2A — were looked at as one of the favorites as the No. 2 seed in the bracket.
However, it took awhile to get going. Seabury held a narrow 4-3 lead with under four minutes left in the first quarter, with all 4 points coming at the free-throw line.
“That’s kind of how it’s been for us the last three, four games,” Raney said. “We haven’t got off to great starts. We’re going to get (other teams’) best shots every night, so we’ve got to make sure that our defense is tight.”
But the Seahawks shored up their defense and began to force turnovers. Bloch and Green were relentless on the perimeter, leading to 13 first-half turnovers for the Mustangs.
Most of Bloch’s points came in transition, too, and helped start a 19-5 run that shifted the momentum. The Seahawks took a 28-16 lead into halftime and scored 24 points in the third quarter alone as they continued to pull away.
And while the Seahawks have solid outside shooters in sophomore forward Joao Carlos Ramirez, Jones, Green and Bloch, Seabury did most of its damage inside. The Seahawks shot just 1-for-8 from 3-point range and 28-for-49 from the field.
With the bounty of offensive chances, the lead ballooned to 30 points midway through the fourth quarter.
“Our pressure defense allows us to get in transition and get some layups and get some easy baskets,” Raney said. “We’re at our best when we’re getting stops and when we’re able to break out.”
The win may have been lopsided and it may have been bookended by the season being cut short. But even playing at all “meant a lot” to the team, according to Bloch.
And while Raney said he “didn’t even want to think about” the possibility of this being the Seahawks’ season finale, he said his message doesn’t change: enjoy and take advantage of each opportunity.
“Look, if this is the last game that we play, I’m just as proud of them as I have been throughout the whole season,” Raney said. “We try to be us, and just be thankful, grateful and blessed. And like I said, there’s a lot of people who wish they had the opportunity we had today (to play basketball).
“I just feel grateful each and every day to come in and coach these guys.”
Zach Bloch 12-15 3-5 27, Stavian Jones 8-16 4-5 21, Cobe Green 3-8 5-5 11, Luke Hornberger 3-3 1-3 7, Joao Carlos Ramirez 2-7 4-4 6. Totals 28-49 15-22 72.
Valley Heights (45)
Jackson O’Toole 5-9 0-0 14, Trenton L’Ecuyer 4-7 0-0 9, Tyler Wagner 3-4 1-2 7, Jake Yungeberg 2-3 1-3 5, Cameron Beardsley 2-8 0-0 5, Evan Haines 1-5 2-5 4, Kadin Claycamp 0-1 1-2 1, Bryson Kenworthy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-38 5-12 45.
Seabury 12 16 24 20 — 72
Valley Heights 5 11 14 15 — 45
3-point goals: Seabury 1-8 (Jones); Valley Heights 6-8 (O’Toole, L’Ecuyer, Beardsley). Turnovers: Seabury 8, Valley Heights 25.
Remaining teams before state basketball tournaments were canceled
Class 6A boys
No. 1 Campus (23-0)
No. 3 Blue Valley Northwest (21-2)
No. 4 Blue Valley North (20-3)
No. 7 Olathe South (17-6)
Class 6A girls
No. 1 Liberal (23-0)
No. 2 Topeka (23-0)
No. 4 Derby (21-2)
No. 6 Olathe East (18-5)
Class 5A boys
No. 1 Andover (23-0)
No. 2 Basehor-Linwood (21-2)
No. 3 Hays (16-6)
No. 5 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (17-6)
Class 5A girls
No. 1 McPherson (22-1)
No. 2 Andover Central (22-1)
No. 3 Topeka Seaman (20-3)
No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas (18-4)
Class 4A boys
No. 2 KC Piper (22-1)
No. 3 Bishop Miege (19-4)
No. 4 Augusta (19-4)
No. 8 Rose Hill (13-10)
Class 4A girls
No. 1 Nickerson (21-2)
No. 3 KC Piper (21-2)
No. 4 Bishop Miege (21-2)
No. 7 Clay Center (16-6)
Class 3A boys
No. 2 Collegiate (21-3)
No. 3 Beloit (21-3)
No. 4 Galena (19-5)
No. 8 St. Marys (14-10)
Class 3A girls
No. 1 Nemaha Central (24-0)
No. 2 Frontenac (22-2)
No. 3 Halstead (21-3)
No. 5 Cheney (21-3)
Class 2A boys
No. 2 Bishop Seabury Academy (21-2)
No. 5 Sterling (20-4)
No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)
No. 8 Hillsboro (15-9)
Class 2A girls
No. 1 Spearville (24-0)
No. 2 Trego (23-1)
No. 4 Valley Heights (22-2)
No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)
Class 1A boys
No. 2 Little River (23-3)
No. 3 St. John-Hudson (23-3)
No. 5 South Central (21-5)
No. 8 Stockton (15-11)
Class 1A girls
No. 1 Central Plains (26-0)
No. 3 Olpe (26-0)
No. 4 Hanover (24-1)
No. 7 Centralia (19-8)