The South Gray Rebels boys basketball team will not have a chance to defend their 1A Div. I State title.

The Macksville Mustangs beat the South Gray Rebels 71-58 in the Sub-State Championship Game Saturday night. The Mustangs will advance to the combined 1A State Basketball Tournament in Dodge City next week.

South Gray’s season ended with the loss.

“I thought we could have hit our free throws a lot better than what we did, and we could have rebounded a lot better than what we did,” South Gray head coach Mark Applegate said. “If we’d have done those two things I think it might have been a little bit different (of an) outcome, but we didn’t and they did. They hit all of their free throws, or a large percentage of them, and they rebounded very well.”

It was an extremely-contested game. The biggest lead of the night before the final two minutes game was 9 with about seven minutes left.

At that point, the Rebels took a timeout and got back into it, cutting the deficit to just 1 point with about 3:29 left and the score 55-54.

The Mustangs later built their lead to 5 before South Gray took a timeout down 3 with 1:52 left to play and with the Mustangs leading 61-58.

Out of the timeout, the Mustangs broke the game open, hitting shots and free throws and defending well while going on a 10-0 run to close the game.

“Their size was a problem with us, and we knew it would be, but we just to keep battling, and that’s what we tried to do,” Applegate said.

South Gray finished the season 23-2 overall.

With the loss, Saturday’s game was the final high school basketball game for six seniors who were listed on the Sub-State program: Clifton Miller, Benny Thiessen, Eli Bullinger, Alfredo Teichroeb, Austin Jantz and Morgan Koehn.

“This is a great group of seniors, they really are,” Applegate said. “They’re special. Those kids sitting over on the bench, they don’t play a lot, but in practice they’re very very competitive. That’s all I can ask out of them.”