A coach can scheme against a motion offense, isolation and dribble drives.
But it is hard to stop a player that is just having a good time.
“I just have fun. That's what I do,” said Mulvane's Elise Gerlach. “It all comes when you play hard and have fun.”
In that sense, Gerlach was the life of the party. She dropped 24 points and added seven rebounds and three steals to help the Wildcats to a first-round win in sub-state competition. They topped Wichita Collegiate 57-33.
“She knows when to go,” said Mulvane's KaSandra Melick. “When it opens up a little bit, she goes for it. She's a good player.”
The Wildcat offense has prided itself all season on having a balanced inside-out attack. Against Collegiate, it never materialized that way.
Gerlach hit the only Wildcat 3-pointer, and that did not come until the fourth quarter.
“You have those days,” Gerlach said.
Instead of fading from the script, Gerlach and Melick rewrote it. Melick scored six points on long-range jumpers from inside the arc, including a buzzer beater to put the Wildcats ahead 13 going into halftime.
“At the beginning, I wasn't really making anything,” Melick said. “I have those games. I try to tell myself to keep shooting.”
Mulvane became relentless crashing the boards. Along with Gerlach, Melick snagged five rebounds and Destynee Donaldson added six. Keeping the backcourt active on the glass gave the Wildcats a monster 37-17 advantage in rebounding.
The Wildcats won the opening quarter 13-3 and never trailed. Collegiate scraped within five points in the second quarter before faltering.
This season is unique for the Spartans (4-16). The roster only has three players that are not freshman.
In her curtain call, senior Jerica Skar delivered 20 points for Collegiate.
“She's like a daughter to me. I've coached her for four years,” said Collegiate coach Terrance Phox. “That's the sad part about this time of year. I'm going to miss coaching a kid like Jerica.”
Mulvane (15-5) gets a familiar opponent as it moves on the postseason. Clearwater (14-6) split its two games against the Wildcats in the regular season. The defense will hone in on Bryna Vogel, Clearwater's do-everything conductor.
“We've heard she's been putting up a lot of points lately these past couple of games,” Melick said. “Ashley (Wilson) is usually the one guarding her. We have to make sure she doesn't get second shots and keep her in front, really.”