By CONOR NICHOLL
On March 9, Girard faced Hoyt-Valley in the Class 3A boys’ quarterfinals. After 8-12 and 12-7 records, Girard bumped to 16-6 this winter and returned to the state tournament. Girard was the No. 8 seed, while Royal Valley was the top seed.
It’s rare for a No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed at state. However, Girard stayed with Royal Valley in a close game throughout the contest. The first quarter was tied at nine. RV outscored Girard, 10-8, in the second and 19-17 in the third. Both teams scored 22 points in the fourth.
Girard senior Brahm Born completed a superb season. He finished 8 of 19 from the field, 1 of 4 from beyond the arc and 5 of 8 from the foul line. He delivered 22 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists in the loss. Plus, Aiden Damman contributed 19 points, and William Troike tallied 15. Royal Valley won the first two games in school history and finished as state runner-up to Hesston.
This marked Girard’s first state trip since a 22-3 record and 3A state championship squad in 2019 when longtime coach Rod Wescott earned SIK all-classes coach of the year honor. Girard has 16 all-time state appearances, per longtime historian Carol Swenson. Since ’89, Girard has qualified in ’07-09, ’14-16, ’19 and ’22.
Born earned SIK 3A player of the year finalist and delivered 17.6 points a contest. He has put together three consecutive solid to spectacular seasons. On the eight-win squad, Born averaged seven points a game. He was one of seven players who started – and returned last winter. He was first team all-league last winter. This winter, he had a stretch where he scored 85 points in three games.
In the fall, the 5-foot-10 Born, a running back and free safety, helped Girard to a 10-1 record, a six-win improvement from 2020. Girard girls’ basketball posted another strong winter with a 13-6 record. Olivia Cullen named team MVP after she paced with 6.2 rebounds and a block a game. Kinley Smith earned team defensive MVP.