COLUMBIA – The trophies commemorating the Hickman boys basketball team's state championships are very old. Predictably so, given that the last one came in 1962.
The one they received for their 1936 championship is heavily tarnished, its formerly brass-colored surface taking on a greenish tint. It would have been nice for this year's Kewpies squad to give those trophies a companion — a brand-new wood block in the shape of the state of Missouri affixed with a still-shiny plate detailing the championship won.
That won't happen this year. The Kewpies lost 67-59 to Rockhurst on Friday at Mizzou Arena, bumping them out of the state championship game. It was largely the result of a fourth-quarter collapse that caused wide eyes and gaping mouths.
The Hawklets hit four straight 3-pointers to open the quarter, forming the meat of what was an 18-0 run. Hickman certainly fought, but the Kewpies couldn't get the rebounds. They couldn't hit the shots. They couldn't hold on.
Hickman does have one more game to play, the third-place matchup against Vianney tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at Mizzou Arena.
All season, head coach David Johnson would never harp on the current performance, always talking about what was next.
And the Kewpies are advancing, if only in the strictest sense of the word. They will receive a trophy tomorrow, but it won't take on the same iconic status as the others.
Players on the bench covered their heads with their hands as the clock mercilessly ran down. When junior guard Chris Clark entered the interview room, he was still red-eyed.
Hickman's last state semifinal appearance came in 1982, when they were led by the venerated Cecil Estes. That team finished third.
So this year's squad can still, in the words of Johnson, "match history." And they still have plenty to play for tomorrow.
"Well, yeah, it does, it has a lot of meaning, and it's about our pride, bottom line," Johnson said.