By CONOR NICHOLL
Columbus boys’ basketball, which returned its entire team, started 5-0 for the first time in at least a decade. The core of the Titan football and baseball programs are key in basketball: Brett Hamilton, Kolt Ungeheuer, Seth Stover and Landin Midgett.
The Titans started with a 49-34 win against Pittsburg Colgan on Dec. 2, and then won against Liberal (Mo.), 59-28, on Dec. 8. The following day, Columbus defeated Southeast-Cherokee, 57-41.
On Dec. 13, Columbus beat Cherryvale, 53-37. Three days later, Columbus posted a 59-48 win against Riverton.
Two months after, Columbus is 15-3 and has won six straight. The Titans have its most victories since before 2006-07.
Columbus remains unranked by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Columbus is in the 3A Girard sub-state. The Titans are ranked second in sub-state behind 18-0 Galena.
Last week, Columbus girls’ wrestling was second at regionals. The Titans had 149 points, two shy of champion Chanute. Senior Addison Saporito (38-1) won at 120 and earned regional wrestler of the year. Columbus qualified seven for state.
Grace Noel (23-11) was second at 100. Madelyn Garcia (23-9) earned fourth at 130. At 135, 140, 145 and 155 all wrestlers took second: Aubree Saporito (39-5), Brooklyn Lima (30-5), Graci Major (23-7) and Jailyn Rodriguez (29-4).
Ungeheuer has a team-best 12.7 points and paces the Titans with 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest. Last spring, Ungeheuer captured the 3A high jump title with a 6-foot-8 leap. The 6-foot-4, 170-pound Ungeheuer committed to Fort Scott baseball on Jan. 29. He was also offered by Kansas track.
Hamilton, CHS’ quarterback in the fall, has 12 points per game.
Midgett, a standout two-way player and all-state selection in football, has 9.2 points and four rebounds. He has committed to Coffeyville baseball.
The 6-foot-5 Stover, last spring’s 3A Pitcher of the Year and an Emporia State baseball signee, has 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds. Cole Minor has 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds a contest. Junior Cole Youngblood has 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Those six players combine for 95 percent of the team’s scoring.
Columbus had no seniors on last year’s team. Hamilton contributed 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds, while Ungeheuer had 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Columbus was a 14-7 squad in 2021-22, including a 16-point defeat to Pittsburg Colgan in the season opener. Two years ago, Columbus finished 10-12, including a pre-Christmas loss to Riverton.
Three winters ago, the Titans went 13-9, though fell to Colgan in the season opener. In ’18-19, Columbus finished 9-11 and took defeats to Colgan and Riverton before Christmas.
Before then, Columbus had multiple years of very few wins. An 11-9 team in 2010-11 opened 4-0 in its December schedule before back-to-back losses against Colgan and Frontenac, per MaxPreps archives.
The basketball success continues an historically great calendar year in many sports. Girls’ wrestling finished third at state and is a top-two 4-1A team this winter.
Baseball won the first state games in program history and finished second. The Titan football team pulled off two upsets and advanced to the state quarterfinals this fall. Columbus softball captured a CNC title last year.