2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Palmer Ridge boys’ basketball finds groove in Kansas

Published: January 24, 2014, 7:01 pm, by Scott Kaniewski

At Colby, Kan.: Normally, Palmer Ridge boys’ basketball coach Nick Mayer doesn’t like having his team’s league schedule broken up by a trip to Kansas.

But this season it might have come at a perfect time.

The Bears lost back-to-back 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference games last week, including one to Discovery Canyon. Since then, the Bears (9-5) beat Vista Ridge and have won the first two games in the Colby Kansas Orange and Black Tournament to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

The Bears beat Wichita (Kan.) West on Friday. A day earlier they pounded Liberal (Kan.) 66-35.

“It’s a good experience for our guys,” Mayer said. “We’re in the middle of nowhere in Kansas and it’s the biggest event in town. The whole community comes to the games.”

The Bears will play Scott City (Kan.) in the final. Scott City has won the last three 3A state championships; the first team to do so, according to Mayer.

“We faced some adversity after the Discovery Canyon loss,” Mayer said. “Our guys worked really hard to get back on the winning side. We’re hoping to carry that momentum forward, hoping to have momentum going into that (Tuesday’s) game (against Sand Creek).”

Last time the Bears played Sand Creek, Scorpions shooting guard Dylan Clark hit two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to win the game. This time the Bears get to host Sand Creek.

“They know how to win close games,” Mayer said. “I don’t think it matters where we play them. We have to do our best job of stopping him.”

For now though, the Bears get center stage in Colby, at the Community Building, which is home to some of Colby Community College’s athletics teams, including men’s basketball.

“It’s a lot of fun for our players,” Mayer said. “They’re getting to play now in the Community Building, which is nice.”