Stallions Boguard Way Into 5A Final

Malik Cushon (Schlagle)

by David Brox,

The Schlagle Stallions surprised the state winning as the 7 seed in the first round of the 5A state tournament yesterday.  The win came at a cost as Dominique Saunders was injured and would not be available against Witchita Heights who won their first round game as the 6 seed of the tournament.  At the bottom of the 5A bracket a cinderella was going to be dressed for the final.

I got a chance to talk to Shawnee Heights head coach Steve Wallace and Matt Shulman before the game and said that was going to hurt Schlagle.  Saunders provided a lot of energy to the line up and senior leadership not to mention depth.  The first question at hand was who would Coach Potts turn to in the starting lineup and the answer was a foot taller.  Malik Cushon was going to man the middle of the Schlagle team and he was a force.

Both teams came out in the first quarter playing a zone and Schlagle specifically wasn’t interested in going up tempo.  Numerous times the Stallions held the ball patiently working for shots.  This made perfect sense as the Stallions were a bit short handed and shortening the game had to be appealing to Coach Potts.  Devin Davis of Witchita Heights came out guns blazing from outside.  Heights slowly but surely built a 10-3 lead after 1.

Ronnell Mitchell got going in the second quarter penetrating against the Heights zone.  The Stallions who were on the verge of going on a run through out the first half kept getting turned away.  After the short burst by Schlagle, Heights answered with a run of their own to push the lead up to 16-8.  The more Heights tried to push away the Stallions pulled them back in.  Mitchell who had 6 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds in the first half found D’Monte Gaw on the wing for 3 at the first half buzzer.  Schlagle who trailed by as much as 10 had cut the lead to 22-18.

The first half stats were ugly to say the least for Schlagle.  They were 4 of 19 from the floor and 2 of the field goals were from 3.  They were very effective from the free throw line making 8 of 10.  Cushon had 6 rebounds and 4 points and 2 blocks in the first half.  Schlagle had done just good enough to stay with in striking distance.

The third quarter started out well for the Stallions but Davis who finished the game with 19 points kept knocking down 3’s.  He hit two in the quarter which allowed Heights to extend the lead to 30-24 at the midway point.  Cushon kept Schlagle in the game as he really started to work the glass and finishing around the rim and at the free throw line.  Heights however closed out the quarter well extending the half time lead to 36-29. 

It was however the third quarter that I started taking notice of Coach Potts demeanor on the sideline.  His team got outworked at the end of the quarter but he kept a smile on his face.  The best description I can give to how Potts worked the sideline tonight was a calm energy.  His ability to keep a very tense and pressure filled game fun and finding moments to smile provided the players with a sense of calm.  He didn’t complain about any calls and chose to focus all of his praise and energy into his players.  Perhaps he knew all along that the Stallions were going to figure it out and boy did they.

Ronnell Mitchell (Schlagle)

A famous quote from Marty Shottenheimer during a playoff game against the Houston Oilers.  They were playing the high powered run and shoot offense led by Warren Moon.  The Oilers had dominated on offense through out the year and somewhere in the second half Shottenheimer said, “We got it figured out!”.
The Schlagle Stallions figured out Witchita Heights and the answer to the equation was Malik Cushon.  The Stallions repeatedly got to the middle of the zone and found Cushon on the opposite side.  He delivered time and time again in the second half and specifically in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 20 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks.  Forgive my language here but the young man played his ass off on one of the biggest stages possible.  Salute to you young man!

All of a sudden Davis was not hitting 3’s.  Ronnell Mitchell pressured the ball and Cushon affected many shots at the rim.  Heights who were 5 of 5 from the line in the first half were 4 of 8 in the second half.  They made 7 FG’s in the first half only had 5 FG’s in the second half.  The irony had come full circle because Schlagle who scored 3 points in the first quarter absolutely locked down Heights in the fourth quarter giving up just 3 point.  The difference being that Schlagle scored 21!  24 points from the free throw line.  When we say free throws win games we really mean they win ball games!  The Stallions win and advance to the 5A final tomorrow night at 6:15.

We have an opportunity tomorrow as a community and I don’t do this often but I am calling on Wyandotte county specifically district 500 to get to Topeka tomorrow night.  Rally behind this team that is repping the Dotte and hopefully with your help the Dotte will show up.  Tweet this post, like this page, share this post to spread the word throughout the city and if you are free tomorrow night, make the drive.  We can make a statement to the state that the Dotte will rally behind our kids.

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