Stung at State: MV falls in 1A-II quarterfinals

Marmaton Valley High's head coach reflected on his team's magical run through the postseason after the Wildcats' first appearance at a state basketball tournament in 23 years ended with a loss Wednesday to Dighton.

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March 7, 2024 - 2:09 PM

Marmaton Valley High’s Brayden Lawson, right, puts up a shot while being guarded by Dighton defenders Carson Shimer, left, and Boston Shimer. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register
Marmaton Valley High’s Tyler Lord (21) drives against Dighton defender Noah Roemer Wednesday at the Class 1A-II State Basketball Tournament. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

GREAT BEND — If any sequence epitomized Marmaton Valley High’s struggles Wednesday, it was a stretch late in the third quarter.

The Wildcats, battling top-seeded Dighton in the first round of the Class 1A-II playoffs, were trying to work their way back from a slow start, and were holding their own in the game’s middle stretches.

The Wildcats’ Jaedon Granere, one of the more athletic basketball players in the state, found an opening to the basket as he darted down the lane for a potential layup.

In his way was Dighton’s 6-4 standout Carson Shimer, who swooped in for the block.

Undaunted, Granere outfought a pack of Hornet defenders and regained possession, barreled his way to the hoop and put up another shot.

That, too, was blocked, this time by Dighton’s junior guard, Daniel Cramer.

An exasperated Granere let out a frustrated grunt as Cramer gathered the ball and raced to the other end of the court.

The Hornets’ swarming defense was relentless from the opening tip, limiting the Wildcats to 23% shooting from the field, blocking 11 shots and forcing 22 MV turnovers in a 72-26 victory.

With the win, Dighton (23-1) is one game away from a state championship berth, with a semifinal game against Cunningham (20-3) set for Friday afternoon. The winner will face either Axtell or Lebo in Saturday’s state title game.

Marmaton Valley (11-12) will look to rebound from its first state tournament appearance in 23 years, the only other time the Wildcats advanced beyond the Substate Tournament.

“That’s a tough team,” Wildcat head coach Cornell Walls said of Dighton. “The lead got a little too big, and we had to press, and we got a little winded late.”

Dighton clamped down on defense midway through the first quarter with a 14-0 run to lead 20-4 early in the second period.

Marmaton Valley’s Tyler Lord, who accounted for Marmaton Valley’s first six points, ended a 6-minute scoring drought with a pair of free throws at the 7:06 mark of the half.

Marmaton Valley High fans cheer on the Wildcats Wednesday at the Class 1A-II State Basketball Tournament. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Granere offered a spark off the bench with a jumper and a 3-pointer before Lord added three more free throws over the next minute to pare the deficit to 24-14.

“We were almost a little too patient at the start,”  Walls said. “When a team is that aggressive, you have to attack, and it started on our defensive end. We got calmed down and turned things around a little bit in the second quarter. Tyler did a good job of getting into the lane.”

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