Olathe East came up short in the championship game at the 2013 Chick-fil-A KA-MO Hoops Shootout on Sunday at Shawnee Mission North, but that was small potatoes for the Hawks.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Sure, winning a title would have been nice, but the summer is more about coming together as a team, learning and growing together.
Olathe East did plenty of that despite a 62-57 loss against Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo.
“It’s disappointing to lose in the championship,” said Ezra Talbert, the Hawks’ 6-foot-8 senior center. “But we learned a lot. Our defense wasn’t good enough and we haven’t really practiced much against a zone. They were able to slow us down in the beginning and disrupt our offensive flow, but it was definitely a positive experience.”
Ultimately, that was the biggest accomplishment for all the teams during the KA-MO Shootout — which had 91 teams, the largest field in the tourney’s history, including 50 varsity programs from five states.
“It just keeps growing,” said SM East coach Shawn Hair, who organizes the KA-MO Shootout along with his brother, B.J. “It’s the largest high school tournament in the Midwest.”
The field included Vianney from St. Louis and Regis Jesuit from Denver, which traveled farther than any team ever to compete in the KA-MO Shootout. Most of the top teams in metropolitan Kansas City from both sides of the state line also competed, along with teams from Iowa and Nebraska.
“It allows us to figure out a whole bunch about our team — what our weaknesses are, what our strengths are and the kinds of things we want to do offensively and defensively for next season,” Hawks coach Jim Super said. “That’s spun right here. We’ve got to decide what we’re capable of doing.”
For Olathe East, which has been to the Kansas 6A state tournament two of the last three seasons, the sky appears to be the limit. The Hawks defeated Ankeny (Iowa) Centennial, Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast and Lawrence Free State en route to the final.
“We need to get a little more physical, but we’re going to be aggressive and I think that tournament has proven that to us,” Super said. “We’ve been aggressive this whole tournament.”
Expectations around Olathe East’s program already were high for next season, but the bar was bumped even higher with a strong performance at the KA-MO Shootout.
“This helps to solidify that our expectations are attainable if we’re willing to discipline ourselves and put in the work necessary to reach our goals,” Super said.
“I like this bunch a lot. They’re hard workers and they listen. They’re just a good bunch of kids and they’re talented.”
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org