The Maize Eagles beat the Wichita Heights Falcons Saturday, earning the title of "Champions" in the 2018 Tournament of Champions.

Maize junior Caleb Grill led all scorers in the game with 21 points.

He got going early.

Before Saturday’s game, Grill won the tournament’s free-throw contest.

“It really didn’t mean that much to me because it’s a team sport,” Grill said after his team won the Championship game. “Really, winning the game’s the most important part to me, it was just another thing that came along with it.”

With 6:51 left in the first quarter of the game itself, and with the score tied at 0-0, a Wichita Heights player fouled Grill on a 3-point attempt.

He made all three free throws, then hit a 3-pointer without being fouled less than a minute later, at which point Wichita Heights took a timeout with 5:05 remaining in the first quarter.

“It felt good because I think we got off to a really good start after that,” Grill said. “I was open and my teammates got me the ball, so they really got all the credit for the play and I just was open.”

The Eagles took a 16-6 lead into the second quarter, but Heights struck back. Maize extended its lead to 21-11 in the second quarter. Wichita Heights then took a timeout with 4:15 remaining. Out of the timeout, Maize got a shot to fall, but after that Heights went on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 23-23 going into halftime.

The Eagles outscored the Falcons 21-19 in the third, taking only a a 42-40 lead into the last quarter.

From there, Maize never again trailed, though it got close. Maize made it 52-49. Grill was fouled on the next offensive series but made neither free throw with 1:36 left.

Maize head coach Chris Grill said it was cool to see some guys who missed on some early opportunities come through later in the game.

“I was really excited for those guys, and that more than anything was the fun part tonight for me,” Grill said.

Even though Heights had tied the score at halftime, coach Grill said he reminded the guys they weren’t playing poorly just because of that.

“I thought we had done a lot of things right, we just didn’t convert,” Grill said. “So I was just reminding ‘em ‘Guys we’ve done a lot of things right, keep doing the same things, keep getting those same opportunities in the second half and it’ll be a difference-maker for us.’”

They talked about a couple defensive things, but that was it, he said.

“I thought the kids really came out and executed that stuff pretty well and it was a lot of fun,” Grill said. “Like I said: Fun to see ‘em come back in the second half and down the stretch really execute and play with poise and was really proud of these guys.”

After Maize made it 53-49, Heights was forced to foul, which allowed Maize to build up the score, ending in a 60-49 win.

 

Individual awards

All Tournament Basketball team:
- Josh Early of Bishop Miege
- Ethan Nunnery of Hays
- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of Bishop Miege
- Carson Marsh of Manhattan
- Jaylen Randle of Wichita East
- Nate Awbrey of Manhattan
- Caleb Grill of Maize
- Devin Davis of Wichita Heights
- Antonio Espinoza of Maize
- Izaiah Hale of Wichita Heights

Free Throw Champion:
- Caleb Grill of Maize

Most Inspiratonal Player:
- Caleb Grill of Maize

Coaches Sportsmanship:
- Rick Keltner of Hays

Individual Sportsmanship:
- Tyce Hoover of Manhattan