The Central Plains girls are halfway home to a rematch with Sterling High.
Central Plains shook off the dust after a 13-day layoff to cruise past Medicine Lodge 57-28 Thursday in the Class 2A Sterling basketball substate.
Top-seeded Central Plains (19-2) will play Pratt-Skyline (14-7) in Friday's 6 p.m. semifinals at Sterling College. If the Oilers and second-seeded Sterling win Friday, Central Plains will get a rematch with the Black Bears after losing 66-56 in their first meeting at Great Bend.
The Oilers captured a Class 2A substate championship in their first season as a consolidated school featuring Claflin and Quivira Heights High School. The Oilers finished fourth in Class 2A last season after beating Oakley and losing to Olpe and Republic County.
Central Plains outscored the Indians 31-11 behind a near perfect second half.
Central Plains converted 14 of 28 field goals while outscoring the Indians 31-11. The Oilers scored the first 10 points of the second half for a 36-17 lead. The Oilers' effective pressure defense forced 26 Medicine Lodge turnovers, which led to several easy transition baskets.
"Our biggest difference in the second half was we finished our shots and took advantage on our fast breaks," said Central Plains coach Pat Stiles. "I was really pleased how well that we played that second half."
Jennifer Hitschmann led the Oilers’ balanced offense with 16 points while dominating inside. Katie Hipp scored 10 points and led the Oilers' unselfish play with several nice assists. Freshmen Taylor Rolfs and Reagan Phelan each added nine points. Janae Hekele chipped in eight points.
"That's pretty normal for us because someone different will lead in scoring about every night," Stiles said. "Our offensive balance is a nice advantage."
The Oilers started sluggishly on defense, according to Stiles. The Oilers converted 7 of 11 field goals the first period for a 16-10 lead.
Medicine Lodge executed fairly well at the start, handling the Oilers' usually effective fullcourt pressure defense. The Indians converted 3 of 8 field goals the first period to stay within range.
"I was wondering how we'd start off because we had not played since Feb. 15," Stiles said. "We missed a few shots we'd normally make. We didn't finish a few plays."
Central Plains pressure defense helped the Oilers lead 26-17 at halftime, fueled by a couple of easy baskets off Indian turnovers.
Medicine Lodge (3-18) executed its offense solidly at times. The Indians' senior tandem of Addie Roe and Cassidy Stimpert combined for 18 points. Roe scored 11 points and Stimpert added seven.
The Indians showed off excellent teamwork and patient passing when they were able to work into their halfcourt offense.
The Indians converted 9 of 40 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers by Roe and 3-pointers by Sarah Eck and Mallory Shinliver.
"We knew it would be a tough matchup because Central Plains is such a quality team," said Medicine Lodge coach Lowell Dohrmann. "Our girls are battlers. They us great effort tonight."
Dohrmann said Central Plains' talent and athleticism was hard to match up against for the shorter Indians.
"They are quick and aggressive and they take advantage of your mistakes if you don't handle the basketball," he said. "They are a high quality team."
Skyline 51, Ellinwood 44 – Point guard Kaitlyn Stark scored 23 points and handled Ellinwood’s pressure defense to lead the Thunderbirds. Stark drilled a trio of 3-pointers and added 10 free throws. Ellinwood’s Sophie Hayes scored 13 points.
Sterling 67, Inman 15 – Freshman sensation Kylah Comley scored 27 points to spark Sterling past Inman. The Black Bears roared to a 53-7 halftime lead. Dani Dowell added 10 points.
Kiowa County 49, Little River 27 – Kiowa County outscored Little River 20-4 in the fourth quarter to roll past the Redskins. Katelynn Gamble scored 12 points and Riann Heft added 11 points.