Braves hoping for a little Emporia magic


2019 Braves Basketball. Front row: Dylan Palmberg, Keyon Thomas, AJ Watson, Noah Villarreal, Jayden Young. Row 2: Trent Stimac, Rishaud Dockery, Ethan Byers, Cortland Hervy, Caden Lipp, Damian Streit, Nasjon Porter.

Blake Best, Sports Writer

March 10, 1984. Six seconds on the clock, the game on the line. Inbounding the ball, Rob Stewart passes to an open Mike Martin, who pulls up and sinks the apparent game-winner.

The Bonner crowd erupts as the deafening screams of triumph fill the gym. But the game isn’t over yet. Parsons shoots the ball with only two seconds remaining when the clock strikes zero. But the gun failed to fire, and Parsons continued to play, making a shot after two failed attempts. Confusion filled the auditorium; both sides thought they had won.

The officials huddled at the scorer’s table to sort things out. Then an announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention, please? The final score of the game is Bonner 56, Parsons 55.” The Braves won their first and only state basketball championship.

Thirty-five years later, another Bonner Braves varsity basketball team is headed to state. Like it was in 1984, the game is being held in Emporia at the White Auditorium.

And there are other similarities between the two teams and their situations. Both teams won the Paola and Tonganoxie tournaments, and both teams had a Palmberg on the roster: Brad in 1984 and his son Dylan in 2019. If the 2019 team advances to the second round, they could play a familiar opponent in the Basehor Bobcats. The 1984 team beat Bishop Ward, also a familiar foe, in the second round.

Clausie Smith, who owned the Bonner Springs Chieftain and covered sports from 1979 to 2002, said he is impressed with this year’s team and sees similarities with the 1984 team in scrappiness and a lack of height.

“They are extremely quick, tenacious defensively, and are as well coached as I’ve seen in Bonner Springs,” Smith said.  “They are great three-point shooters and make the most out of the height they have.”

Smith was present at the 1984 championship game. He hopes that Bonner can experience the same excitement once again.

“It’s got to be the number one game I covered because it’s the state championship. There was such excitement for that game, and the atmosphere at the game was just electric. It meant a lot to the community to see them win it. It gave us a lot of pride and the chance the say ‘We’re No. 1’ in something,” Smith said.