Saturday, April 19, 2014

2013 TOP STORY NO. 4: OHS State Championship

By The Herald Staff | 12/30/2013

Led by nine varsity seniors and head coach Jon McKowen, the Cyclone boys basketball team captured its first state title since 1971 and finished with an unblemished 25-0 record during the 2012-2013 season. It was especially memorable for the seniors on the team, who sustained three consecutive losses in previous state championship games before winning the 2012-2013 title.

“Those bitter losses ... that is why this one is extra special,” senior Semi Ojeleye, who broke the state scoring record during the season, said after the championship win. “Losing three years straight, you know what it takes to win. You know if you are not focused, you are not going to win it.”

Led by nine varsity seniors and head coach Jon McKowen, the Cyclone boys basketball team captured its first state title since 1971 and finished with an unblemished 25-0 record during the 2012-2013 season. It was especially memorable for the seniors on the team, who sustained three consecutive losses in previous state championship games before winning the 2012-2013 title.

“Those bitter losses ... that is why this one is extra special,” senior Semi Ojeleye, who broke the state scoring record during the season, said after the championship win. “Losing three years straight, you know what it takes to win. You know if you are not focused, you are not going to win it.”

Fellow senior Dallas Natt could barely believe it after OHS knocked off Highland Park 54-45 March 9 in the championship game at the Salina Bicentennial Center.

“Words can’t explain what we feel because of the heartbreak we have been through,” Natt said. “Is this a dream? We finally get what we deserve. We played our butts off.”

The Cyclones began their tournament run by obliterating rival Anderson County 76-44 in the first round of the state tournament. The team then soared to an equally impressive 73-49 win over Andale in the semi-finals before beating out Highland Park in the finale.

“We are blessed we have a great team,” McKowen said before the championship game. “The kids have worked hard at it.”

And the hard worked paid off for the players. Aside from being a key part of the state championship team, Ojeleye committed to play basketball at Duke University in Durham, N.C. earlier this year.

McKowen announced in April he would leave OHS to teach and coach at Kennedy High School in his home state of Iowa.

All of the members of the championship team recently returned to their home gym Dec. 20 at OHS, 1120 S. Ash St., to be a part of a ceremony unveiling the new state championship banner in the gym.

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