Are we ready?
That’s the question Schlagle coach Prentes Potts and his staff has been wrestling with this week at the Kansas Class 5A tournament.
It was a great achievement for Schlagle to make it to Topeka, which it hadn’t done since 2000, and then the Stallions reached Saturday night’s championship game at the Kansas Expocentre.
Was it too much, too fast for a young team?
Potts and the Stallions received their answer Saturday when a senior-laden Shawnee Heights team playing in front of a home crowd was too much for Schlagle in a 66-49 victory.
“I think everyone always thinks they are ready for success, but it’s how you handle adversity that ultimately decides if you’re successful,” Potts said. “Hopefully they use this as fuel and they come back hungry so they don’t have to feel like this again.”
No one thought Schlagle, a six-loss team out of the KCAL, could make it this far — and few figured they would be able to slow down Trey Brown and the T-Birds in the championship game.
But even as an underdog, it hurt losing just one win away from a title.
“We came in on a nine-game winning streak with everything clicking and thinking we were the buzz saw,” Potts said. “But we ran into the buzz saw tonight. Shawnee Heights is really, really good.”
Brown, who averaged 21.3 points in three games in Topeka, scored 21 points against Schlagle.
Shawnee Heights raced to a 32-19 halftime lead, and the lead never dipped below nine and grew to as many as 21 in the second half.
“I know Trey gets a lot of the credit, but it’s not a one-man show for us,” Shawnee Heights coach Steve Wallace said. “We had so many different guys step up this week for us and that’s why I believe we always had a shot at winning this.”
Ronnell Mitchell scored 15 points to lead Schlagle, while Malik Cushon added eight points and 10 rebounds.
Schlagle graduates two starters in Cushon and Tama Johnson (eight points), but returns the majority of its production for next season.
“We thought we were ready and prepared, but there’s another level of getting to that final step that we found out tonight,” Potts said. “I’m excited for this group though because I’m pretty sure we’re going to get there.”