It was sophomore night, a chance to honor the five guys who have put in two quality years on the court for the Larks. It was going to be a tough matchup as Hesston College was taking on Johnson County Community College, top of the standings and undefeated in Region VI play. After a slow start, the defense got rolling and the Larks were able to take the victory, winning 79-78.
Johnson County started off hot hitting their first three shots, including two 3-pointers. They started the game on an 11-0 run until Grant Harding hit a three to open the scoring for the Larks. But it was almost eight minutes into the first half and down 23-6 until the Larks really got things going.
“Our defense was the key,” said Head Coach Dustin Gaylon. The defense spurred on the offense allowing the Larks to move the ball down the court before Johnson County could get their defense set up. Coye Campbell took over attacking the rim.
With just over six minutes remaining in the half, two big defensive plays elevated the Larks. Aubrey Johnson came up with a block and seconds later Shannon Cordes stole the ball. On the transition offense, Johnson was about to knock down a jump shot to bring the Larks within five, 30-25. This was a part of a 20-7 run for the Larks to end the half, giving them a two point lead heading into the break, 39-37.
The second half saw more back and forth basketball, but the Larks never relinquished their lead. “I am proud of how hard our guys played on the defensive end,” said Gaylon. “We finally played defense like we are capable for a full game.”
David Ladwig led the defense with four steals and Cal Hartley and Grant Harding each had six defensive rebounds. On the offensive side of the ball, Cambell had 28 points, Hartley 16 and Harding 12.
The Larks will head to Labette CC (Parsons) on Wednesday, February 28, for the opening round of NJCAA Region VI playoffs. The game will tipoff at 6 p.m.