Hanzel makes more Humphrey history
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family senior Ethan Hanzel made history on Saturday. In a first-ever state championship, since the programs combined six years ago, it was history for everyone involved.
Yet, Hanzel’s involvement was a little bit more special than anyone else could claim.
Prior to the 61-46 win over Fremont Bergan, Lindsay Holy Family last won a boys basketball trophy in 2005. There was also a title game appearance the year before and in 2000 as well.
Humphrey won its one-and-only boys hoops state championship in 1980. On that team, 39 years ago, was Ed Hanzel, Ethan’s dad.
“He told me that he didn’t get to play that much. That’s what he talked about. he only got to play a couple of seconds, but that was the best moment of his life,” Ethan said in the hallway underneath Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, moments after wrapping up the state championship press conference.
“I couldn’t find him in the stands after the game. He just told me before I came down here, ‘This is a special moment, so no matter what happens, keep your head held high and just go out there and have fun.’”
Ethan must have had a lot of fun. He scored 13 points, 11 in the first half and won a battle with Fremont Bergan’s 6-4 post Riley Lindberg. The latter cleaned up the glass, as usual, totaling 14 rebounds and five offensively.
But in terms of having an impact scoring and giving the Knights an inside-outside presence with Lindberg in the paint, Hanzel completely shut him down.
Lindberg had just four points, only attempted six shots and turned it over four times.
“You call it a battle, man, it was a battle,” coach Joe Hesse said at the press conference.
“He was banging with them. He does such a great job on defense for us. It was physical. Ethan sets the tone. He had probably his best game of his career yesterday against Paxton, shutting down their big guy, then I didn’t even realize he had 13 (against Bergan). That was pretty impressive.”
The day before was a matchup with Paxton’s 6-10 Blake Brewster. Brewster was just four points under his regular average of 20.4 per game, but he didn’t score until late in the first half and only had three at halftime.
Thus, almost all of his points came with his team already down by 15 or more. For a team that was ranked No. 1 in Class D-1 prior to state, Hanzel simply made its best player a nonfactor.
In Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Hartington-Newcastle, Hanzel had just six points but held the Wildcats’ 6-foot-7 forward Sam Harms under his average as well and helped H/LHF control the glass.
The two teams were just about even in total rebounds, offensive and defensive, but Hartington-Newcastle scored just seven second-chance points.
On Saturday, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family fell behind 9-2 then led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a late first quarter run started by seven straight points from Hanzel.
He scored past Brewster to make it 9-4, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored again while drawing a foul. The free throw made it 9-7. Hanzel tied it with another putback on the next possession.
Although the Bulldogs didn’t appear to have any nerves playing in their first state championship game, Hanzel’s effective start had to be a shot of confidence.
“They scored early, so I thought I should just start getting it done down low- scoring a few points for us and get us on the board,” Hanzel said.
He opened the second quarter with his eighth and ninth points for a 16-13 lead then added more points in the paint minutes later for a 20-16 advantage.
It became more of a jump shooting game in the second half, H/LHF cashed in five of its eight 3-pointers, but much of that had to do with Hanzel shutting down the lane in the first two quarters.
He couldn’t quite find his dad in the stands for a wave in the postgame celebrations, but when the two finally reconnected afterward, son had some major bragging rights on dad in terms of who had more of an effect on Bulldog history.
“It’s amazing. I have so many emotions going through me right now,” Ethan said. “Winning that first state championship for our school ... it’s just amazing.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org