By Rick Peterson
EMPORIA -- Highland Park's one-point, last-second loss in Friday's Class 5A semifinal game will probably always hurt.
But the Scots handled that heartbreak in the best way possible, taking out their frustration on Hutchinson in a 79-46 rout in Saturday's third-place game at White Auditorium.
Highland Park coach Mike Williams said he was extremely proud of how his team answered the bell less than 24 hours after the 55-54 loss to Andover.
"You never know because we hadn't had to come back from it this year, so it was definitely new ground,'' Williams said. "But we've got guys in our locker room, players and coaches that have played this game dang near our whole life and you win some and you lose some so we have been in this boat before. Maybe not at this magnitude, but its about picking yourself back up.
"Losses feel heavy and hard at the moment and that is one we're going to carry for awhile for sure, but I do think that we gained a great experience and we did some amazing things this year and I watched a group of boys become men.''
Highland Park trailed just once in the game, at 2-0, and steadily pulled away as the game wore on, finishing its season at 24-1 as seniors Jahmir Kingcannon, Bo Aldridge and Tre Richardson combined for 52 points while outscoring Hutchinson (22-3) by themselves.
The Scots built a 15-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter and went up by double-digits (22-12) at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter on a tip-in from Aldridge.
Senior A'Ydren Drew-Gregory made it a commanding 35-22 lead at the half and the Scots opened the second half with an 8-2 run to take an insurmountable 43-24 advantage.
Highland Park led 52-34 at the start of the fourth quarter and it was showtime the rest of the way, with the Scots outscoring the Salthawks 27-12 over the final eight minutes.
Kingcannon finished with a game-high 22 points while hitting five of six 3-point attempts and eight of 10 shots overall.
"We lost a tough one yesterday so we had to come back and fight,'' Kingcannon said. "We had to have character and end the season on a 'W.' ''
Kingcannon agreed that Saturday might have been one of the best games of his career and said he had an inkling in the Scots' shoot-around that he was ready to go.
"It was definitely one of my best games,'' Kingcannon said. "I take my pregame shoot-around very seriously and that's what led to me having a great game.''
Aldridge added 16 points while Richardson had 14 points while going seven of eight from the field.
Sophomore Jacorey Robinson finished with six points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Scots while junior Tamir Anderson had six points on two 3-pointers.
"The reality of it is that two teams in every classification end every year with a win -- your champion and your third-place game,'' Williams said. "This is the first time that we've been able to have a win in the very last game of the year. It makes it a little bit bittersweet but at least it's little bit of sweetness in there.''
Highland Park shot 56.6 percent from the field, including 70.8 percent in the second half, while limiting Hutchinson to a 31.7-percent shooting night.
The Scots were nine of 19 from 3-point range while Hutch was just two of 26 from outside the arc.
Terrell King led Hutchinson with 17 points, the lone Salthawk in double figures.
HIGHLAND PARK BOYS 79, HUTCHINSON 46
Hutchinson 10 12 12 12 -- 46
Highland Park 15 20 17 27 -- 79
Hutchinson (22-3) -- King 7-14 3-5 17, Robertson 0-12 0-1 0, Meyer 3-8 1-1 9, King 4-7 1-2 9, Lange 3-7 0-0 6, Lewis 0-1 1-2 1, Clark 0-0 0-0 0, Spiller 0-0 0-0 0, Heneha 0-1 0-0 0, Rodriguez 0-2 0-0 0, Smith 1-6 0-0 2, Van Syckle 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-60 6-11 46.
Highland Park (23-1) -- Richardson 7-8 0-0 14, Aldridge 5-9 5-6 16, Kingcannon 8-10 1-2 22, Adams 1-2 2-2 4, Robinson 3-6 0-0 6, Drew-Gregory 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 1-4 0-0 2, Taylor 1-2 0-0 3, Wilson 0-2 2-2 2, McMillion 1-2 0-1 2, Anderson 2-6 0-0 6, Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-60 6-11 46.
3-point shots -- Hutchinson 2-26 (Meyer 2-7, Robertson 0-8, King 0-3, Smith 0-3, King 0-2, Lang 0-1, Heneha 0-1, Rodriguez 0-1), Highland Park 9-19 (Kingcannon 5-6, Anderson 2-6, Aldridge 1-3, Taylor 1-2, Williams 0-2). Total fouls -- Hutchinson 12, Highland Park 15. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- Meyer 2, Adams.