Emporia High Head Boys Coach Beau Welch often speaks of how his team likes to play a speedy, transition-based game.
So does Topeka High.
The Trojans overcame an early deficit and played at a speed even the Spartans struggled to keep pace with much of the night as T-High picked up a 76-69 win at Spartan Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
“Offensively, I thought we did a good job of getting the ball up the floor and we were able to attack them and get baskets,” Welch said. “Their athleticism and margin for error is so big, they can do things and get away with things that we definitely can’t. They’re extremely talented and ... tonight they shot free throws extremely well.”
The Trojans were 27-of-49 (55 percent) from the floor but also 16-of-20 from the free-throw line, making it a difficult defensive night for the Spartans.
“We’d try to get them (at the line) and they kept knocking (them down) so we were never able to shrink (their lead),” Welch said.
Emporia High was in full attack mode in the opening quarter, as the two teams switched leads back-and-forth before the Spartans closed out the period with an 8-2 run which saw the Trojans use a pair of timeouts.
In the second quarter, Topeka High fought back to a deadlock. Even a pair of technical fouls assessed against Topeka High — on separate plays more resembling showboating than being spiteful — the Trojans had a full head of steam, knotting it at 29 going into the break.
“I thought the technicals got them going,” Welch said. “They picked up their energy, picked up their intensity ... I thought at the three-minute mark of the third quarter we got a little winded, a little gassed and they were able to get a couple baskets and we got sped up offensively and missed some shots that allowed them to get some run-outs on us and (they were) able to get the lead up to about eight.”
A layup from Skyler Douglas late in the third cut it the E-High deficit to 60-57, but a confusing melee for a loose ball just a moment later, turned into a three-point play for Topeka High in what Welch defined as a pivotal play in the contest.
“Overall, I thought we played our tails off,” he said. “We’ve just got to try to maintain a little longer. Our margin for error in a game like this is little-to-(none). They showed their margin for error is as big as you can get in this game.”
Charles Snyder finished with a game-high 33 points, though he had to work for it as he also got a number of shots blocked and stolen thanks to the Trojans’ athleticism.
“They’ve got the guys that can (give him trouble),” Welch said. “King Sutton’s as good an athlete as you’re (going to see). Six-seven and can get up and down the floor. That’s a great athlete guarding him. On the flip side of that, he scored 33 against them.”
Douglas added 15 in the contest.
Sutton scored 20 for the Trojans, while three other Trojans reached double-digits.
E-High (4-3, 2-2) will play at Seaman High in Topeka on Friday.
TOPEKA 11 18 24 23 — 76
EMPORIA 18 11 15 25 — 69
Topeka High (4-2, 2-1) — Smith 1-2 1-2 3, Harden 1-5 4-4 7, Sutton 7-13 6-7 20, C> Esquibel 6-9 2-2 15, I. Esquibel 5-8 2-5 13, Williams 5-9 0-0 13, Cooks 1-2 0-0 3, James 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-49 16-20 76
Emporia (4-3, 2-2) — Hoyt 0-4 2-2 2, Baumgardner 2-4 2-2 6, Hines 5-9 0-0 11, Douglas 7-16 1-1 15, Snyder 14-27 5-11 33, Kirmer 0-0 0-0 0, Corum 0-0 0-0 0, Gilpin 1-1 0-0 2, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-71 10-16 69
3-point goals — Topeka 5-19 (Williams 3-6, Harden 1-4, C. Esquibel 1-4, Cooks 1-2, Smith 0-1, Sutton 0-1, I. Esquibel 0-1); Emporia 1-8 (Hines 1-2, Hoyt 0-1, Baumgartner 0-1, Douglas 0-2, Snyder 0-1). Total fouls — Topeka 13, Emporia 13. Fouled out — none. Technicals — Topeka: Harden, Williams.