FRONTENAC, Kan. — The fourth time was definitely the charm for the Webb City Cardinals.
After falling short in three previous championship games at Frontenac High School, the Cardinals got over the hump in 2022.
Ignited by a fast start, and in control from the start, Webb City earned a convincing 90-61 victory over Life Prep Academy on Saturday in the championship game of the Four State Raider Classic.
The Cardinals had finished as the runner-up three consecutive times at the tourney formerly known as the Kansas Army National Guard Invitational.
But this year was different.
“This one feels good,” Webb City coach Jason Horn said. “This was our fourth straight year in this game and after coming up short in the last three, we felt like we had a lot of pressure on us coming into this game. I thought our guys were really focused and just made plays tonight.”
In what was arguably the team’s best first period of the season, Webb City overwhelmed Life Prep from the tip, as the Cardinals raced out to a commanding 26-11 lead in a clash they would never trail.
“Defensively, we were really good at the start of the game,” Horn said. “We got the game at the pace we wanted it at. Our defense got us some easy runouts and our guys were feeling good offensively and started making plays.”
Ranked eighth in Class 5, Webb City improved to 12-4 with the lopsided win.
NAMES & NUMBERS
Three players reached double figures for Webb City. Junior guard Dante Washington led the way with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while senior guard/forward Kaden Turner scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and junior forward Trey Roets contributed 18 points after making 8-of-11 shots.
Roets had eight rebounds, while Washington recorded three steals and three assists.
Washington and Turner were all-tourney selections.
Senior point guard Cohl Vaden contributed six points and three assists and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“He deserves it,” Horn said of his varsity veteran. “He had a great tournament. He does so much for us. He can score if we need him to score. He can be a defensive stopper. He plays a lot of minutes. There’s a lot on his shoulders and he’s doing a great job of leading our team.”
The Cardinals, who had 12 players score in the contest, shot 52 percent for the game (33-of-64).
“I’ve said it all year, our guys do a great job of sharing the basketball,” Horn said. “That was a point of emphasis tonight. They valued the ball. I think we only had two turnovers in the first half.”
Based in Wichita, Life Prep fell to 7-4. Michael Johnson scored 20 points for the Fire, who made 21-of-55 field goal attempts (38 percent).
Life Prep had 23 turnovers to Webb City’s 10.
Looking fired up from the start, Webb City stormed out of the gates by scoring the game’s first 11 points. While the Cardinals were clicking on all cylinders offensively, they were also active defensively.
Webb City took a comfortable 19-4 advantage after Washington scored six straight points.
Late in the opening frame, Vaden scored in the lane before Max Higginbotham and Roets drained 3-pointers to give Webb City a 15-point cushion.
“We were able to mix our defenses and we did a good job of getting in the passing lanes,” Horn said. “Offensively, we were sharing the ball and I thought we executed really well. Whether they went man or zone, we were able to run our stuff and execute at a high level. We got a lot of easy looks. When we get paint touches, set good screens and execute, we’ve got a lot of guys who can score the basketball and shoot at a high level.”
It was more of the same in the second quarter, as Webb City’s balanced attack, fast pace and trapping defense were too much for the Fire.
Turner recorded a hoop inside, Roets scored five straight points and then Washington finished strong at the rim in transition to give the Cards a 35-15 cushion.
Turner threw down a dunk off an alley-oop from Vaden and the Cardinals were up big at the break, 47-23.
The Cardinals didn’t let up in the third quarter, and Webb City’s lead was 68-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
Horn got his reserves plenty of minutes in the final frame, as the final outcome was never in doubt.
Webb City is at Hillcrest on Tuesday.
NEVADA EARNS WIN
Nevada defeated Owensville 56-38 in the seventh-place game.
Jack Cheaney led the Tigers (4-14) with 13 points, while Cade Beshore added 11 points.
Shaun Gray’s Tigers led 16-4 at the end of the first period and 26-10 at intermission.
In other action, Frontenac beat Christian Heritage 79-66 for third place.
FULL STATS: Webb City HS (webbcitycardinals.com)