The seniors for El Dorado’s boys basketball team have been thinking about getting to State since the 4th grade.
"We've been dreaming about this since we were little," said senior Jared Haury. "We talked about it in fourth grade when we had our team, and we said we were going to State our senior year."
The Wildcats realized those dreams Saturday night when they defeated Andover Central 55-46 to win their home Class 4A sub-state championship and earn a spot in the 4A state tournament this week.
"I thought going into the season that this would be a year that we would have a chance to do this," El Dorado coach Gary Melcher said. "After we started going, I wasn't real sure, but by golly, they stepped up and got it done tonight."
This will be the first trip to State since the 2000-01 season, when the team had a string of three straight appearances from 1999-01 before Augusta snapped the streak the year the Orioles won the state title. El Dorado is seeded No. 6 with a 13-9 record and will face No. 3 Basehor-Linwood, which has a 19-3 record.
Against the Jaguars, El Dorado was down 35-31 late in the third quarter before making a run. Travis House scored a layup, then dished to Haury inside for another basket to spark a run. El Dorado led 37-35 after the third quarter and pushed its lead to 42-35 early in the fourth.
"I'm the captain of the team, so I felt like I wanted to do my part," House said. "I like having the ball in my hands, and I wanted to make a play."
Christian DeYoung hit a 3-pointer later to pull the Jaguars within two. Darraja Parnell, Central’s standout sophomore, then thought he had a clean steal and the tying layup, but instead got called for his fifth foul with 3:04 left. Zach Lock hit a 3-pointer and Brock Schaffer scored a layup to keep the Jaguars alive, but Central couldn’t put together enough offense to rally.
"You'd be stupid if you didn't say Parnell being on the bench was part of the reason," Melcher said. "We tried to make some adjustments with what we knew they were going to do, which they did do. I think the longer the game went on, the better we got at it. One of the primary ones was the corner 3 and slipping the in-screen."
El Dorado helped itself by doing the little things right. It outrebounded Central 32-16 for the game and scored seven second-chance points to Central’s four. El Dorado made 22 of 31 free throw attempts, including several down the stretch to clinch it.
House finished with a team-high 16 points. Haury scored 13 points, Alec Hildreth had 11 points, Isaac Johnson, John Scott and Garrett Howland all scored four points apiece and Wes Haines added two for the Wildcats.