Cubs one win away from history



March 9, 2013 - 12:00 AM


HUTCHINSON — Humboldt High’s magic carpet ride has the Cubs on the brink of history.
After a series of heart-stopping victories that have filled Humboldt’s postseason, the Cubs took care of business much earlier Friday night against Silver Lake.
A 16-3 run spanning the third quarter did the trick, propelling Humboldt to a 47-35 win in the Class 3A state semifinals.
The victory puts the unbeaten Cubs (25-0) in tonight’s state title game against their toughest foe yet — two-time defending state champion Scott City. Scott City defeated Nemaha Valley 50-38 in their matchup.
Tipoff is at 6:15 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
While Humboldt is well aware of Scott City’s prowess — “They’re one of the top five teams in the state in any class,” Humboldt coach David Taylor said — the Cubs showed again they have some fight of their own, particularly on the defensive end.
The Cubs limited Silver Lake to a paltry 20 percent from the field, including 0 of 10 from 3-point range.. 
Meanwhile, Humboldt found its offensive rhythm early on in the third period.
“We hit some shots, but to give you specific instances, I can’t,” Taylor joked. “I was too worried about when we were going to turn the ball over.”
Humboldt’s Nathan Whitcomb sandwiched baskets around a Trey Johnson 3-pointer to start the second half, turning an 18-17 lead to a 25-17 advantage.
Silver Lake’s Tyler Brown scored the Eagles’ first, and only, basket of the quarter to stem the run before Humboldt turned on the jets again.
Hunter Murrow’s putback put the Cubs up 29-20. Johnson hit another 3-pointer to push the lead to 12, then Tanner McNutt’s assist led to another Murrow bucket to put the Cubs on top 34-20 to end the quarter.
The game may have gotten out of hand, but the Cubs committed 16 turnovers, 10 in the second half after Silver Lake deployed a full-court press.
That’s when Silver Lake went on a 7-0 run, capped by Evan Burdick’s jumper with just under 6 minutes left in the game.
The Cubs kept their poise, and ran their motion offense to perfection, leading to a wide open McNutt beneath the basket. He scored, was fouled, and hit the free throw to re-establish a 37-27 lead with 5:22 remaining. 
It was the Cubs’ only field goal of the fourth quarter; it was the only one they needed.
Humboldt ended the game on the free throw line. The Cubs missed six charities in a row at one point, but still managed to hit 10 of 21 in the period.
Silver Lake got no closer than eight points down the stretch.
“We just defended,” Taylor said. “The kids were really prepared and focused. They ran a couple of sets, and we were able to jump all over it.” 
THE FIRST half was a bit tighter, as both teams struggled to find their offensive rhythm. Humboldt trailed only once, 17-16, before Murrow scored with 1:41 left in the second quarter to give the Cubs an 18-17 lead.
Silver Lake’s Trenton Smith scored 15 of the Eagles’ 17 points before halftime, but only seven after intermission.
“We couldn’t stop the guy inside,” Humboldt senior Noah Thornbrugh said. “We changed the defensive scheme in the second half, and sure enough, we got it to be our game.”
“It’s been a long time, four years,” Thornbrugh said. “My freshman year we came in and set a goal, and said by the time we leave, we’ll win a state championship. We know we have this opportunity. We’ll be ready to go. We’ll come out amped up. We just have to execute.”
Thornbrugh is well familiar with Scott City.
“I played with three of their players in a summer league. I know what they’re capable of. I’m sure Coach has some defensive schemes. We just have to take of our defense, and our offense will come to us.”
Whitcomb led the way with 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while Johnson followed with 11 points. Thornbrugh had seven points to go with 14 rebounds. Johnson also dished out three assists.
FRIDAY’S GAME was tame in comparison to Thursday’s quarterfinal, a heart-stopping 41-37 win over Salina-Sacred Heart.
Humboldt twice overcame five-point deficits in the second half, taking the lead for good on Thornbrugh’s jumper with 1:29 left in the game. Johnson followed with two free throws.
Sacred Heart had one last shot at a tie, but Sacred Heart’s Brooks Brown missed a 3-pointer in the final five seconds and Humboldt up 40-37.
The Cubs limited Sacred Heart to 26 percent shooting from the field and no 3-pointers — sound familiar? — although the Knights out-rebounded Humboldt 45 to 33 and corralled 22 offensive boards, leading to several second chances.
Thornbrugh led Humboldt with 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Whitcomb followed with 10 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. McNutt, whose four points were 11 below his season average, still led the Cubs with four assists.
Tony Chavez scored 12 to lead Sacred Heart.  Austin Palen scored seven.
Silver Lake (8-9-3-15—35)
Humboldt (12-6-16-13—47)
Silver Lake (FG-FT-F-TP): Boyd 0-0-4-0, Burdick 1-0-2-2, Vega 0-0-2-0, Perry 0-0-3-0, Pfannenstiel 1-1-4-3, Smith 6-12-5-24, Brown 2-2-3-6. TOTALS: 10-15-23-35.
Humboldt (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): McNutt 1-1-5-3, Murrow 3/1-0-1-9, Whitcomb 3-9-2-15, Crawford 1-0-4-2, Johnson 1/3-0-5-11, Thornbrugh 1-5-3-7. TOTALS: 10/4-15-20-47.
Sacred Heart (7-13-10-7—37)
Humboldt (9-9-10-13—41)
Sacred Heart (FG-FT-F-TP): Brown 0-2-1-2, Comfort 1-0-0-2, Chavez 5-2-4-12, Donley 2-0-1-4, Dooley 2-1-1-5, Richards 2-1-1-5, Palen 3-1-2-7. TOTALS: 15-7-10-37.
Humboldt (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Vanatta 0-0-1-0, McNutt 2-0-1-4, Murrow 2-0-0-4, Whitcomb 4-2-0-10, Crawford 1-0-3-2, Johnson 0/1-3-0-6, Thornbrugh 6/1-0-4-15. TOTALS: 15/2-5-9-41.

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