The Lyons High girls tuned up for substate basketball with a solid team performance on Pink Night that remembered those who have battled cancer.
The Lions roared past Nickerson 54-23 in Tuesday’s Central Kansas League game with a workmanlike effort. Aubrey Hollinger and 6-foot-3 center Alexis Lasater each scored 11 points. Point guard Brenna McClure performed brilliantly with several assists and crafty ballhandling.
“It’s a nice luxury to have an unselfish point guard like Brenna who moves the ball upcourt and makes the right pass,” said Lyons coach Leanne Hollinger. “I always feel good when she’s running our offense. I liked the way the girls worked together tonight. They all did their jobs and passed the basketball to the open shooter.”
Lyons (14-6, 5-3 CKL) will be seeded third in the Hillsboro Class 3A substate behind top-seeded Hillsboro (18-2) and second-seeded Haven (16-4). The Lions will play Halstead (7-13) at home in Monday’s substate opener after beating the Dragons 63-25 earlier this season.
Central Kansas League co-champion Hillsboro beat Lyons 51-28 and Lyons surprised Haven 50-41, which is a likely semifinal matchup next week.
Other first-round games are Marion (5-15) at Hillsboro; Hutchinson Trinity (10-9) at Southeast of Saline (11-9); and Salina Sacred Heart (6-14) at Haven (16-4).
“Our girls are playing really good basketball. Hillsboro is a really talented team and they are the favorite,” Hollinger said. “We beat Haven the first time, but we would expect a really competitive game if we would play them again.”
The Lions executed its fullcourt pressure to perfection, turning 18 first-half Nickerson turnovers into easy layups. The Lions jumped into the passing lanes for several steals. Nickerson finished with 27 turnovers.
“We like to play our fullcourt defense as much as possible,” Hollinger said. “We’ve got smart players who anticipate where the ball is going. They use their quickness to get steals and score easy baskets. When we are playing our game, it’s because our pressure defense is on our game.”
Lyons led 16-4 after one period and 32-9 at halftime behind 13 of 41 field goal shooting. Aubrey Hollinger led the way with nine first-half points. The Lions finished making 21 of 60 field goals and 10 of 12 free throws.
"I was glad we came out focused on our Senior Night," Hollinger said.
The Lions also featured good balance. Kari McClure scored seven points and Brenna McClure and Lauren Barker each added six points. Breanna Lutschg, Kari McClure and Rachel Minix also dished out assists. Seniors Kennya Ortiz and Kari McClure were honored before the boys game.
Nickerson (1-19, 1-8 CKL) finishes the regular season with one victory for the second consecutive season. The Panthers will play at top-seeded Andale (16-3) Tuesday in the first round of the Pratt 4A substate.
The Panthers’ ballhandling hurt their ability to get into an offense. Nickerson, at times, executed its offense. As usual, point guard Paige Stewart led the offense with excellent passing and drives to the basket. Alex Parker also had an assist that set Oakley Meadows for a score. Paige Stewart also had four steals the lead Nickerson.
Erin Nuss and Meadows each scored six points. The Panthers shot 27 percent on 9 of 34 shooting and converted five of six free throws.
Nickerson posted its victory this season over Smoky Valley.