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SMNW's Keaton Wagler helps bring home state basketball championship

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Posted at 11:31 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 00:31:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For Keaton Wagler, he still can't believe what he and his basketball teammates accomplished at the state tournament in Wichita.

"It was amazing just being able to do this with all of my teammates," said Wagler.

Wagler is referring to the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball team's undefeated, state championship-winning season.

"We thought we were a contender for the state championship," said David Birch, Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball head coach. "But I don't know if you ever think you're going to go undefeated."

But that's exactly what the Cougars did, going a spotless 25-0 on the way to the Kansas 6A boys state crown.

"When we were, like 18-0, 19-0," said Wagler. "You just try to get rid of all the pressure and that's what we did."

SM Northwest looked good getting off the bus, too.

Easily the tallest team in Kansas high school basketball, the Cougars starting lineup included players that range from 6 feet 3 inches tall to 7 feet tall.

Wagler was the 6 feet 5 inch point guard that stirred the drink all season long.

"He was voted as a captain last year as a sophomore, which is the first team that I've ever been a part of that had a sophomore captain," said Birch.

Wagler understood he needed to support his teammates.

"That's what I was trying to do is just keep us together," said Wagler, a junior. "If we can all play for each other and not ourselves."

50-0? The Cougars will have a shot. All five starters return next season.

"Obviously that's great," said Birch. "You want all the guys coming back and you want to do it again."

Wagler agrees with his coach.

"We're working to do the same thing that we did this year, next year."