Cubs fall in 3A Substate semis

Humboldt High's basketball campaign came to an end Thursday in a 58-41 loss to Heritage Christian in the Class 3A Substate Tournament semifinals. Humboldt ends with a 19-3 record.



March 1, 2024 - 2:12 PM

Humboldt High’s Sam Hull, center, puts up a shot between Heritage Christian defenders Landon Pittman, left, and Spencer Cook Thursday. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

WELLSVILLE — Just as it appeared Humboldt High was escaping its early doldrums Thursday, the Cubs hit a speed bump.

Heritage Christian’s stifling defense paved the way for an early 15-4 lead and put Humboldt in a 14-point hole by halftime. The Cubs mounted a challenge in the third quarter, but could draw no closer than eight in a 58-41 setback.

The loss ends Humboldt’s season at 19-3, while Heritage Christian — which eliminated Iola three nights earlier — advances to Saturday night’s Class 3A Substate Championship game against host Wellsville. The winner advances to next week’s state tournament in Hutchinson.

“We turned the ball over at inopportune times, and they played well,” Humboldt head coach David Taylor said. “We had too many empty trips on offense. That’s pretty much the tale of the tape.”

Humboldt High’s Colden Cook (35) slips past Heritage Christian defender Lucas Prado Thursday. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Heritage Christian’s press forced 20 Humboldt turnovers and was able to forge a sizable lead from the 3-point stripe. The Chargers connected four times from deep in the first half, extending its 18-8 first quarter lead to 28-14 by the break.

But the Cubs, who roared through the regular season with an 18-2 record and then blasted Prairie View by 44 points to open the Class 3A Substate Tournament three nights earlier, showed some spark in the third quarter.

Senior Sam Hull scored five early points in the frame, Blake Ellis hit a baseline jumper and Logan Page’s free throw had sliced Humboldt’s deficit to 30-22.

But Hull was whistled for an offensive foul as he tried to get open beneath the basket, preceding a Spencer Cook 3-pointer — snapping the Chargers’ only extended scoring drought — and the lead was back at double digits.

Just like that, Humboldt’s momentum had evaporated. Heritage Christian’s 15-1 run pushed its lead to 45-23.

Humboldt’s Colden Cook and Hull did what they could down the stretch, but Cook fouled out with Humboldt trailing by 14 with 4 minutes left. Hull, who gave Humboldt fans a charge with three thunderous dunks throughout the contest, joined him on the bench at the 2:05 mark with his fifth foul.

Hull ended his last game as a Cub with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Cook wound up with 13 points, four boards and a pair of blocks. Ellis scored seven points with three assists.

Spencer Cook scored 20 to pace Heritage Christian. Landon Pittman followed with 16 and Lucas Prado had 11.

“I’m happy for Sam,” Taylor said of Hull, one of two seniors on the team. Reserve Nathan Swogar was the other. “He had a good senior year, and he did some good things for us the last three years. We’re happy he’s had these opportunities.”

With junior starters Cook, Ellis, Page and Asher Hart returning next year, and a promising batch of underclassmen, Humboldt also has a solid nucleus for another successful season.