American Implement Western Kansas Teams of the Week: “I am just happy he is alive” – Experienced Hugoton basketball overcoming challenges, start strong

Both Hugoton teams had strong starts against larger schools at the season-opening Hays City Shoot-Out


Hugoton teams return bulk of starters; girls encounter significant obstacles

HAYS – Hugoton girls’ basketball has its well-known senior trio of Mikyn Hamlin, Summya Adigun and Gianna Vos. The tandem are all four-year starters. Hamlin has signed with Division I Wyoming, and Adigun to Division II Northwest Oklahoma State University. Vos is going to Division II Florida Southern.

They have led Hugoton to a 3A Final Four and 3A state runner-up the last two seasons. Entering this year, Hamlin had tallied more than 1,260 career points and holds several school marks, including career 3s and single season points scored. Adigun is Hugoton’s leader in single season rebounds. Vos will likely clear 1,000 career points this winter.

Hugoton girls play for Adigun’s dad, Emmanuel, and veteran assistants Jeff Ramsey and Ray Kennedy.

The Eagle boys returned 86 percent of its scoring from a 19-5 squad that reached their second straight state tournament. Trey O’Neil, an acclaimed player at Scott City and Fort Hays and former Hays High assistant coach, took over Hugoton last winter. Hugoton’s key players included junior Dasean Lewis, Isaac Martin and Emmitt Gaskill, and seniors Ryle Riddlesperger and Carson Bennett.

“We have played together since we were little,” Lewis said. “So I feel like our chemistry is already there, and we have been waiting for this, so I feel like our team is really well rounded.”

Both teams went through significant summer basketball play. O’Neil coached on the AAU circuit. He didn’t call any sets in the summer and told his team “just go play basketball with four-out and five-out offense.”

“Stressing making the right read, moving off drives, reading screens,” O’Neil said.

The Hugoton girls, though, encountered two huge hurdles entering another high expectation season. Both teams started with solid performances at the season-opening eight-team Hays City Shoot-Out last Thursday through Saturday.

The boys’ side featured five 5-6A schools and private school Life Prep, known for its athleticism. The girls had six 5-6A schools in its field.

Hugoton boys went 1-2 with a 66-60 win against Life Prep. Lewis, known for his charges taken, picked up two charges in the final 19 seconds to secure the win. Hugoton followed with a six-point loss to 6A Olathe West, the eventual tournament champion, and an OT defeat to Hays High. The girls finished 2-1.

Both Hugoton teams moved to 4A. The girls are ranked fourth. Hugoton boys were ranked ninth in the preseason, though fell out of the top-10 in the latest poll released Tuesday. However, Hugoton impressed all in attendance through the weekend. Hays High broadcaster Dustin Armbruster noted on-air that Hugoton boys will “be a problem” for southwest Kansas and 4A.

Bennett earned All-Tournament and All-Academic team honors for the Hugoton boys. Summya Adigun earned All-Tournament for the girls. Hamlin, Adigun and Vos were All-Academic.

“We are just thankful that we get to be able to be in this environment to see where we are at as a basketball team,” O’Neil told SIK. “Because we don’t get to see that competition, we don’t get to see that length, we don’t get to see that athleticism. We love it.”

“I am just happy he is alive”

In June, Hamlin suffered a knee injury. It remains open-ended when she will return, though Hamlin is expected to miss a large chunk of the winter. Coach Adigun wants Hamlin to be “100 percent both physically and mentally” before she steps on the court. Currently, Hamlin is focused on getting her rehab done.

“I know she wants to be out there with her sisters,” Adigun said last Thursday. “And she is doing an excellent job helping on the sideline, and just being a great teammate, but for me as a coach, I just care more about her health, and her emotional state, and her preparation for the next level – which she has worked super hard to get to. Granted we would love to have her, but if we can’t, I definitely want her to be at her very best at the next level.”

In early August, Adigun’s son and Summya’s brother, 13-year-old Adrian, went through a significant health scare. Adrian is an excellent basketball player. Summya and Adrian are the two oldest of Emmanuel and Heather Adigun’s four children.

“I am just happy – to be honest with you – I am just happy he is alive, and I am happy to see him smiling, and I am happy to see him getting better,” coach Adigun said.

Coach Adigun, who asked for prayers multiple times on Twitter during Adrian’s health crisis, said his son “had an incident to a delayed allergic reaction.”

“It attacked all of his organs, and he was close to kidney failure,” coach Adigun said. “But he got that back up, so the newest update is he is doing awesome, and he is doing excellent, and he is progressing, but he is not quite out of the water, but gosh, he is fighting, and I am so darn proud of him.”

Each day, Adrian wakes up, takes his medicine and follows the doctor’s advice. A straight ‘A’ student, Adrian has been able to attend school, and participate with a smile in P.E. Coach Adigun credited his wife for “doing an incredible job” of balancing her life and schedule to help with their son.

“He’s doing so good now physically and healthy-wise,” coach Adigun said. “That I feel confident and comfortable being away and he’s dominating it right now, but like I said, not out of the water, but definitely on the right track.”

Hugoton bumps to 4A

This marks Hugoton’s third season in the Shoot-Out. Two years ago, Hugoton boys went 1-2 at the Shoot-Out and lost its first two games. Hugoton eventually won 21 straight contests before a loss to TMP in the 3A state quarterfinals.

Last year, Hugoton went 1-2 at the Shoot-Out with both losses to Olathe West, by 23 and 37 points. Then, the Eagles went 19-2 over their next 21 games.

Hugoton girls captured the 2020 Shoot-Out title when the bracket was four teams because of COVID restrictions. Last year, Hugoton lost to 6A Olathe West in the first game – and eventually played for a state championship.

In the season opener this season, the Eagle girls lost, 58-36, to Northside, an Arkansas power. Northside won the Shoot-Out for a second straight year. Hugoton, with Hamlin cheering and coaching her players on from the sideline, outscored Northside in the second half.

“We are going to get a really good visual of what we need to do moving forward, which I think helped us,” coach Adigun said after the loss. “Last year, we came here and lost by 18 to Olathe West. We competed in a state championship in March. I don’t know if that’s how the ending is going to be for us this year, but I can tell you, I value these games because this is where you grow. You have to compete to grow, and I felt like (Thursday) we got a little bit better, and the scoreboard might not show it, but we saw it visually.”

Hugoton bounced back and defeated 6A Manhattan, 39-31, and rolled over 5A Newton, 53-21. The Eagles will have three more games before Christmas, including a key road matchup versus Cimarron on Dec. 16. Cimarron has McKayla Miller, a Creighton commit. In addition to Summya Adigun, Hugoton will relay on senior Julienne Salazar and junior Abi Slocum.

“Try to grow from here, but we know that we are a different basketball team,” coach Adigun said. “We know we have some moving pieces, but we are not using any of that as an excuse. We are the Hugoton Lady Eagles. We know how to win. We know how to compete, and I am just proud of how my kids responded in a true Hugoton way. That we just talk about being great between the ears.”

Adigun teaches at the middle school and expected Hugoton to move to 4A because of a large incoming freshman class. Hugoton is at 324 students, one off from the smallest 4A enrollment, per KSHSAA numbers. However, both Adigun and O’Neil were pleased with the switch to 4A – even though the class has powerhouse Bishop Miege.

“Moving to 4A, I think does a couple of things for us, A) it gives us a chance to see new people,” Adigun said. “And also not a lot of people see us, because we are so far west, and there are not a lot of 4A teams, so element of surprise, that kind of lack of not really knowing or being able to play against you that much can play in our favor if it goes the right way.”

Classes 3A on down have sub-states based on geography, a negative for many coaches in all sports. Classes 4-6A sub-states are based on seeding. If Hugoton played in 3A, it would have been in the Lakin sub-state with many of its league schools, including defending girls’ champion Goodland. Hugoton can likely host two sub-state playoff games in 4A.

“I think 4A is wide-open,” O’Neil said. “McPherson had a young team, so we are just in the same boat as them, obviously you still have your Bishop Miege that wins it almost every other year, but this team has put itself in position to have a chance at it, and we are so thankful to be able to play in a tournament like this where we get to play some 6As and 5As.”

“They are basketball guys. They love it.”

O’Neil played for his dad, legendary coach Glenn O’Neil, at Scott City. Glenn O’Neil won five state titles and took second twice with SC boys’ basketball. He also collected a football crown. Glenn, currently Dodge City’s head football coach, was in attendance during the weekend in Hays to watch his son.

“A lot of our things that we do is what we did at Scott City,” Trey said.

During the summer, Hugoton lives four days a week at 6 a.m. In the school year, the Eagles lift five days a week.

“He’s a really good coach, really young, he came in day 1, really organized, try to help our team get better,” Lewis said.

The summer basketball helped. Notably, Bennett is O’Neil’s student aid for last hour. The two often practice basketball together. O’Neil mentioned Bennett “works out every single day.”

“They are basketball guys,” O’Neil said. “They love it. They love playing with teammates that they have and with their experience and what we have gone through the whole year, we have gone through the gauntlet together, so right from the get-go, we were able to pick off right where we left off.”

When O’Neil came to Hugoton, he started to learn about the players. He gleaned Lewis had always been the “littlest guy” on the court. Lewis has always enjoyed taking charges, since elementary and middle school. Lewis easily paced Hugoton with 14 charges taken in ’21-22.

“I just try to find a way to be different in the game, not a lot of players take charges nowadays, so that’s why I try to do it,” Lewis said.

Hugoton was minus-9 on the glass against Life Prep, but consistently made better basketball plays against the more athletic Fire. Hugoton had single-figure turnovers, stayed poised, and used several shot fakes to find open looks. Life Prep displayed several emotional outbursts, including a technical foul. O’Neil said that stemmed from the offseason and summer work.

“We have sets, but if we don’t need to call them,” O’Neil said. “I am going to keep them in my back pocket, let them have some freedom, and tonight really showed that they value the ball, and made the right play, and that makes my job a lot easier when I do start calling plays.”

In the final seconds against Life Prep, Lewis noticed a Hugoton teammate was getting beat on the dribble. On the first charge, Lewis was on the right side. On the second one, Lewis slid onto the left. Hugoton made key foul shots to secure the win.

“We just kept taking their shots, and taking their shots,” O’Neil said. “And that’s what a good sign of a basketball team is – is what I really like is those two charges that Desean stuck his nose in and sacrificed his body for our team.”

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