COFFEYVILLE — Death, taxes and a Southeast Kansas League title for the Labette County Grizzlies.
With a dominating 69-35 win over Coffeyville, the Grizzlies won their fifth SEK League championship over the last six seasons. Labette County will get a chance to win the title outright next Tuesday against Independence.
"I'm super proud of the effort is this squad tonight against a relentless, much improved, well coached Coffeyville team," Labette County head coach Kristi Snider said. "We played a lot of kids and everyone gave us great minutes. Everyone boarded well to give us second chance opportunities."
Madison Brannin had a career night for the Grizzlies, pouring in a career-best 26 points. Sydnie Stice added 14 points as well for Labette County.
"These girls love each other and share the basketball really well," Snider said. "Brannin played fantastic tonight. But when she doesn't everyone picks her up. That's the mark of a quality basketball team."
Friday night's win gave the Grizzlies the share of a league title that just a few weeks ago was seemingly going to go down to the wire. Labette County beat Chanute in overtime to start the second half of the round robin to force a tie atop the league standings.
Chanute went on to lose two of its next three games on buzzer-beaters, giving Labette County its two-game cushion.
"As far as the league title," Snider said. "We never take it for granted. It's always harder than it might look. It takes focus and consistency over the course of a long season."
The loss for Coffeyville dropped its record to 5-14 overall and 3-8 in SEK League play.
As for the Grizzlies, they improved to 14-4 overall and 9-1 in league play. In addition to getting an opportunity to lock up the SEK League championship outright win a win at Independence on Tuesday, Labette County is also clinging on to the fourth seed in the sub-state standings — the top four seeds are guaranteed to host both rounds of sub-state en route to the state tournament.
"We hope we keep playing well at Indy," Snider said. "We're hoping for a home sub-state berth and an outright title."
IN THE BOYS GAME…Labette County beat Coffeyville in a close contest 58-54.
Eli Hestand led the Grizzlies with 21 points while Ethan Jameson added 19 for Labette County.
Labette County and Coffeyville were tied at 40-40 going into the final quarter before eight points from Hestand — six coming on two 3-pointers — lifted the Grizzlies to their sixth win of the season.
"It was a great team win and we executed down the stretch extremely well when we needed it tonight," Labette County first-year head coach Bradley Argabright said. "Eli stepped up and made some clutch threes in big-time moments."
The loss dropped Coffeyville's record to 3-16 overall and 1-10 in SEK League play.
As for the Grizzlies, they improved to 6-12 overall and 2-7 in league play. Labette County has another trip to Montgomery County next on its slate as the Grizzlies travel to Independence on Tuesday.
"I'm roux of how hard our guys are playing and we're starting to peak at the right time. We'll enjoy this win," Argabright said. "But we need to be prepared for a good Independence team next week."
Labette County 69, Coffeyville 35
Labette County: 20 12 17 15 — 69
Coffeyville: 13 5 12 5 — 35
Labette County: Karsyn Stewart 3, Lauren Forbes 3, Mackayla Forbes 2, Abby Ryan 6, Anna Dean 5, Sydnie Stice 14, Madison Brannin 26, Madison Hayward 3, Elsie Sorrell 7
Coffeyville: Speer 12, Mason 2, Maulsby 2, Collins 2, Peck 16
Labette County 58, Coffeyville 54
Labette County: 19 5 16 18 — 58
Coffeyville: 12 12 16 14 — 54
Labette County: Luke Falkenstein 4, Eli Hestand 21, Austin Jones 2, Trent Brock 3, Ethan Jameson 19, Nathan Smith 9
Coffeyville: Newton 2, Viets 20, Jonas 2, Logan 18, Herring 12