The Quinter Bulldogs girls basketball team did something Saturday no Quinter girls team had every done before them.
They became state champions.
The Bulldogs beat the Hartford Jaguars 46-44 Saturday the 1A DII State Championship Game.
It was a highly contested affair, one which included 13 lead changes, and eight ties, the last being with 47 seconds left and the score 44-44. After Bulldogs senior Peyton Havlas hit a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead 46-44 with 22.1 seconds left, the Jaguars had a chance to tie the game on a contested layup from under the basket.
Havlas recovered the rebound and passed the ball to an open teammate and in doing so securing the win for the team.
Havlas ended with a game-high 13 rebounds, complemented by 10 points to give her a double-double in her final game.
She was one of six seniors on the 12-player roster the team used in the tournament. Head coach Matt Havlas, Peyton Havlas’ father, didn’t coach these seniors in junior high but has known many of them since third grade.
“I’ve been around these girls for so long, just so excited for ‘em,” Quinter head coach Matt Havlas said. “It’s just a dream come true. It’s been a long time since third-grade. It’s bittersweet. I lose my seniors. I’ve had ‘em for so long but what a way to go out: State Champions. It’s just unbelievable.”
The team entered the season with team goals, and the primary one was to simply get to state. When they did, Havlas said his team relied on Quinter boys basketball coach John Crist, who coached the boys team to its only state championship back in 2004.
“Our goals were to come to state, and we had a great year,” Havlas said. “We only lost to good teams. We played Hoxie three teams, it made us better; Hill City once, they’re in the state tournament. These girls wanted it. To come here and win three in a row it’s just so hard to do. You have to have luck and someone on your side.”
At various points throughout the game, junior Andrea Charles could be seen getting up from the bench and giving all of her teammates two-handed high-fives in apparent efforts to energize them.
“Our bench is so behind these seniors too,” Havlas said. “I have four juniors that are really pretty good, but I have so much faith in these seniors it’s hard for me to let ‘em play. They played tonight, they did a great job, they gave us good minutes. It was a total team-effort. Kyle Crist had looks, normally she makes those, and it shouldn’t have been this close but it was.”
Crist, one of the team’s seniors, had 10 points, seven rebounds and a team-high three assists for the Bulldogs. Senior Brittney Walt had a game-high 15 points.
For the Jaguars, sophomore Bailey Darbyshire had a team-high 14 points. Senior Morgan Bolen had a team-high 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Senior Maisie Schroeder had a team-high 12 rebounds.
“Hartford’s a great team, great team,” Havlas said. “We defended ‘em well. When we started this run here about four or five games ago it was because of our defense. (Friday night) against Cunningham, we held the No. 1 team in the tournament to 22 (points), so pretty good. We knew to man this team up, we couldn’t lose by 3’s, we guarded the line, they did everything they were asked to do.”