MAIZE—For the third year in a row, the Maize High School girls beat Dodge City in a Class 6A sub-state final to secure a trip to the state basketball tournament.
Maize hosted Dodge City on Saturday, March 2, and won 45-24. The Eagles prevailed 62-26 in last year’s sub-state championship.
Maize dominated Saturday’s contest, jumping out to a 13-0 lead before Dodge City sophomore Breckyne Pike scored the Red Demons’ first bucket. Pike was responsible for six of Dodge City’s seven points in the first quarter.
Maize led 17-7 at the end of the first and 24-10 heading into halftime. No one scored for the first minute and a half of the third quarter. The drought lasted until Maize junior Brayden Byrd sank one of two free throws with 6:29 remaining in the quarter.
The Eagles’ coach, Jerrod Handy, called for timeout twice in the first three minutes of the quarter. He later said he was trying to teach the girls to control the tempo instead of taking quick shots, which forced them to spend more time on the defensive end.
Dodge City’s best quarter was the third, when Maize outscored its visitor only 10-8. The Red Demons had fewer than eight points in every other quarter.
Saturday was a special night for Maize starter Paige Lungwitz, the team’s only senior. It was the last time to play on her home court.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said, “but I’m glad I got to play my last game at home.”
Maize has qualified for the state tournament every year of Lungwitz’s high school career. The 6A tournament will take place next week in Koch Arena at Wichita State University.
“It’s special every year,” said Handy. “These kids work so hard to get here, so I’m really happy for them.”
Maize placed third at state last season. Lungwitz hopes to advance to the championship game for the first time in her four years as an Eagle. She said the keys to success included lock-down defense and playing together. Handy also emphasized the importance of rebounding.
Lungwitz scored 11 points Saturday while sophomore teammate Keiryn Swenson had a game-high 13. Pike led Dodge City with eight points.