“We went to a tournament, I believe it was the Purdue tournament, and we played two really tough teams and we kind of came together then. That’s when I knew we had something special coming along,” he said. “We had a couple losses at the beginning of the season, but we probably needed those to learn from and they took a little pressure off. We just built from there.”
Cass opened 2-2 with losses to Logansport (77-68) and Hamilton Heights (73-70 in overtime). The Kings have followed with 20 straight wins with a payback victory over Logansport (86-68) in late January.
Last week, Cass beat No. 3 Wapahani (63-62) and Tipton (55-47) to win its first regional title since the 2003 squad won the Class 2A state title and finished 26-0.
“It hit me at the end of the Tipton game that we were the second team all-time in Lewis Cass history to be a regional champion. That says a lot and that means a lot to me,” Keisling said. “Winning that regional championship, I wanted to celebrate so much but I was so tired. That first game took a lot out of me and the Tipton game just topped it off. But it was a great moment. I’m really proud of my team. Hopefully we can get this semistate.”
The Kings’ success starts with a six-player senior class. Keisling, Hadley and forward Victor DeJesus work as starters and guards Jake Martin and Destin Irwin and forward Drew McRae are regular contributors off the bench.
“In seventh and eighth grade, I think we lost two games and we played this exact same offense, exact same defense, so I knew we had something,” Hadley said. “We were just very poor shooters last year, including myself. I knew I needed to step up and everyone else has as well.”