TOPEKA – With one spill near the end of the second quarter, Whitko was forced to change its ways.

Throughout the 2018-19 boys basketball season, the Wildcats had been bolstered by senior front-liner Spencer Sroufe.

He went down with 2:13 to go in the first half and limped to the locker room. He tried to play at the start of the third quarter, but was unable to continue as Whitko’s season ended with a 60-40 loss to No. 5 Westview in the  semifinals of the Class 2A Sectional 35 at Westview High School.

Whitko coach Eli Henson said the last eight days of practice have been devoted to getting Sroufe the basketball inside, and he scored six points before leaving the lineup while being guarded closely by Nic Rensberger and some help-side defense by the Warriors.

“When you take (Sroufe) out of the game, you have nobody to protect the rim,” said Henson. “It changes everything.

“Everything we’ve worked on — basically all season — goes out the window and you’re in a free-for-all trying to figure out what to do.”

While Whitko finished at 13-10, Westview moved to 23-5 and into the championship at 7 p.m. tonight opposite Prairie Heights.

The Panthers topped No. 6 LaVille 74-60 in Friday’s other semifinal).

What makes the Warriors so tough?

“Look how smart they are,” said Henson. “They don’t turn the ball over. They take good shots. They’ll hold the ball for a minute and then it will lead to a layup. They’re patient. They put the ball where it needs to go.”

Junior Charlie Yoder (26 points) and senior Elijah Hales (17) paced Westview’s attack. Hales scored seven points in the first quarter and Yoder netted 12 in the third quarter.

“The goal was to take (Yoder and Hales) out of the game and let the others beat us, but we never had an opportunity,” said Henson.

Besides Sroufe, the only other senior on the sectional roster was Micah Cokl, who dropped in a three-pointer in a reserve role Friday.

Sophomores Drake Lewis (15 points) and Brett Sickafoose (11) led the Wildcats on offense. Lewis had 10 of his points in the second half while Sickafoose tallied eight.

“I was proud of the way we ended the season,” said Henson. “We were playing our best basketball coming into this game.

“We had a little confidence that we could play with (Westview) and at least make it competitive. There comes a point in your season when you’re going to run into someone that’s just better than you.”

The Wildcats and Warriors did not meet during the regular season.


WH    7    9    11    13    –    40

WV    15    14    21    10    –    60

Whitko – Spencer Sroufe 3-7 0-0 6, William Rickerd 0-1 0-0 0, Drake Lewis 5-10 4-6 15, Clayton Ebbinghouse 1-3 2-3 5, Brett Sickafoose 4-10 2-2 11, Micah Cokl 1-3 0-0 3, Devin Blaine 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Sapp 0-0 0-0 0, Kylar Bryant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-34 8-11 40.

Westview – Nic Rensberger 3-7 0-0 6, Josh Hostetler 1-2 0-0 2, Elijah Hales 6-8 3-4 17, Charlie Yoder 9-16 6-6 26, Dennis Wingard 1-1 0-0 2, Drew Litwiller 0-2 2-3 2, Jordan Schrock 1-1 2-2 3, Lyndon Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Blake Egli 0-0 2-2 2, Luke Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Tim Brandenberger 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Yoder 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-37 14-16 60.

Three-pointers – Whitko 4 (Cokl, Ebbinghouse, Lewis, Sickafoose), Westview 4 (Hales 2, C. Yoder 2); Rebounds – Whitko 14 (Ebbinghouse 4, Sickafoose 4), Westview 27 (C. Yoder 11); Fouls – Whitko 15, Westview 11; Fouled Out – Lewis; Records: Whitko 13-10, Westview 23-5.

Other semifinal: Prairie Heights 74, LaVille 60