A few minutes had passed since Wahoo won the state championship on Saturday, and shock had turned to reflection. The seniors on the team kept saying to each other that they couldn’t believe they had done it.
Senior forward Cameron Quick said he was starting to get teary eyes. He says Will Shanahan was also.
“And Brendan (Lacey), he was biting the net, trying not to,” Quick said.
After coming up just short of a state championship last season, Wahoo and its six-player senior class got their state championship in their last try, beating Winnebago 70-66 in overtime on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Last year, Wahoo lost to city rival Bishop Neumann 80-57 in the Class C-1 championship. Losing that game last year added to the emotion of Saturday’s win.
“Being here last year and just getting that little tiny bite, just a little glimpse of it, and not being able to get the gold, and now we finally did,” Quick said.
Wahoo got big games from two juniors, Winston Cook and Blake Lacey, off the bench in the win.
But the core of the team was its five senior starters: Billy Hancock, Dylan Egr, Quick, Shanahan and Lacey. The other senior is Cade Belitz.
Quick scored 14 points on Saturday, and Shanahan had 10. Hancock had six points, six assists and made four critical free throws in overtime. Egr made a big three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to pull the Warriors to within three points, after Winnebago had led by 11 in the third quarter.
In the first round of the tournament, Brendan Lacey made seven three-pointers.
You feel a lot better when you have seniors like Wahoo did that have played a lot of basketball, coach Kevin Scheef said.
“A lot of teams could have folded,” Scheef said. “The way we were down it wasn’t looking good, but they kept their composure and just battled back, and I’m really proud of them for that.”
It was only about two weeks after last season ended that the Wahoo players were back shooting, getting time in the gym at school or in “sheds” at players’ houses.
“Billy Hancock, he’s got a shed by his house, and he’s got a really nice hoop in there,” Quick said. “And oh, my, goodness, he’s spent countless hours in there, and we’d go there. He’s had it forever, so we would even go there and just play half-court pickup games.”
Quick said Jason Glock, a star player on some of Wahoo’s past state championship teams, also has an indoor hoop that he allows the players to use.
Wahoo now has 11 state championships, the fourth-most of any program in the state.
Hancock feels a great sense of pride that the team could get another state title for Wahoo. He missed all seven of his shots from the field but made all six free throws in a game where that was a big difference.
“As little kids you watch it on TV and you think that’s what you want to do some day, and when it really happens it’s unreal,” Hancock said.
Most of the Wahoo seniors have been playing basketball together “since they could walk,” Hancock said. Quick started high school at Bishop Neumann before transferring.
But this group wasn’t always dominating on the court.
“I can remember in our grade-school years we weren’t the best, but we had coaches, my uncles, and different coaches, that fundamentally taught us so when it came time we were ready to go,” Hancock said.
Wahoo also won the state tournament in 2013. And then, of course, there was that stretch of years when Wahoo won eight state titles in 11 years from 1988 to ’98. Wahoo has a 54-26 all-time record in state tournament games.
“Coach (Mick) Anderson started this in the ’80s, and then coach (Mark) Watton continued it,” Scheef said. “I think we all feel a great responsibility to carry on that tradition and try to uphold it the best we can. We’re really proud of our town and our school and the basketball program.”