(KMAland) -- The fourth and final team to be honored in this year's KMA Sports Hall of Fame class ended a 57-year state tournament drought 20 years ago.
The 1998 Lenox girl's basketball team became the first to qualify for the state tournament at the school since 1941. As you might expect, the community celebrated it in a big way.
"Lenox is a great community that always supports its kids," Lindsay (Brown) Wetzel said. "My mom took an old bed sheet and painted 'On To State' in the garage and hung it up on the house. People had signs all over town."
Wetzel, who was the leading scorer on the team, remembers how they always dreamed they would go to state - except they figured it would be in volleyball.
"That just didn't happen for us," she said. "But we had a class of some really good athletes."
Some of the other standouts from the team included Shilo and Brooke Belding, Tara Christensen, Jennifer Reed, Ashley Maharry, Lindsay Beaman and Amanda Morris. And the head coach for the Tigers was Gary Smith.
"He was really tough on us," Wetzel said, "but we knew that was for a good reason. He had high expectations. His practices were hard, and we got a lot done. Obviously, what he did worked."
The run to the state tournament for Lenox saw them beat Orient-Macksburg, Diagonal and Murray before knocking off Guthrie Center in the regional final.
"We had lost the year before to Diagonal during a district game," Wetzel said, "and we weren't supposed to. We had a bad taste in our mouth, so that was one of the games I really remember."
The Tigers took a 20-3 mark into the state tournament, where they fell to eventual state runner-up Winfield-Mt. Union in the first round. While the state tournament experience was one they will never forget, the extracurricular elements were also memorable.
"There was a big snowstorm right before state," Wetzel said. "Our game was on Monday afternoon, and the state called the school to say we needed to leave on Friday because of the snowstorm. They weren't going to postpone or cancel any games."
So, Lenox left for their Monday game in Des Moines after school on Friday, ate from vending machines (due to closed restaurants) and practiced in a church gym.
"It snowed 14 inches on Sunday," she said, "but the Vet's experience was great. The locker room was huge, the court was huge. I remember everything just being so big compared to what we played in everyday."
Other members of the Lenox team in 1998: Sarah Fehring, Alana Haidsiak, Leah Siverly and Kerry Sweeney. Kirk Maharry was an assistant to Coach Smith.
To listen to the full interview with Wetzel click here. The Lenox girl's basketball team will be inducted into the KMA Sports Hall of Fame at a later date to be determined.
A KMA Sports Hall of Fame announcement will be made on Upon Further Review at 11:50 AM each weekday until August 28th.
2017-18 KMA Sports Hall of Fame Announcement Schedule
Friday, August 25th — 1998 Lenox Girls State Basketball Qualifier (Team)
Monday, August 28th — Legacy Award