Unlike the boys first round a day before, the 3A Girls State Tournament gave fans three opening round upsets, including the bracket’s top seed, Riley County falling to No. 8 Lyons.
Lyons 57, Riley County 49
They say come tournament time; throw records and seeds out the window. Sometimes that sentiment is easier said than done, but on Thursday night the Lyons Lady Lions sure played like it.
The 8-seed took the game to the No. 1 Riley County right in the opening quarter.
After trailing 6-3 after a Taylor Oliver three, Lyons went on to outscore the Lady Falcons 13-6 the rest of the quarter, capped by a Lauren Barker triple as time was winding down giving them a 16-12 advantage.
“The record doesn’t matter. You get seeded off your record and I mean we came out there like we were the No. 1 seed,” said Lyons’ junior guard, Brenna McClure.
The two sides traded leads in the second before heading into halftime in a 29-29 deadlock.
But, the second half was all about the Lady Lions and their ability to pressure the basketball, whether it was from its unrelenting full-court or simply getting hands in the passing lane, leading to 19 points off turnovers.
“We worked on practicing our press all week and I guess that was the key because we slowed them down,” said McClure.
Riley County was within striking distance at many points in the second half, but Lyons closed the door in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Falcons 15-9.
Each team had three players in double figures.
For Lyons, McClure had a night to remember, falling 1 rebound, 3 assists and 1 steal shy of a quadruple double (16 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 9 steals). Alexis Lasater and Rachel Minix both finished with 11 points on the day.
Riley County was led by Oliver’s 15 points. Madison Vargo and Katelyn Thomsen had 14 and 13 points respectively.
Nemaha Valley 36, Caney Valley 34
The second game of the day between the Nemaha Valley Lady Raiders and Caney Valley Lady Bullpups won’t go down in the record books for aesthetics, but one team will remember it because they were able to overcome their deficiencies and move on.
That team was Nemaha Valley.
“We play on our defense. Our defense is what got us here and got us through today. We made just enough free throws and just enough shots to pull out one today,” said Hadden Hiltgen, Nemaha Valley head coach.
In the state tournament for the first time in 11 years, the Lady Raiders were a bit nervy early on, but their plan to shut down the Lady Pups top scorers, Desiree Nelson and Makenzie Viring worked for most of the game.
But, the extent of that defensive effort wasn’t really seen until the second half. Viring hit a three as the first half horn sounded to bring Caney Valley within two, 23-21.
The Lady Pups hit 3 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first half, but just 1 of 11 in the second.
Hiltgen said, “We kind of switched to a triangle on their two scorers to try and take them out of the ball game and second half it worked. I don’t know how many shots they got off but it wasn’t very many and they didn’t make very many. So, the girls executed our game plan perfectly defensively so we’re happy.”
Nemaha Valley only shot 24.5 percent for the game, but forced 21 Caney valley turnovers which led to 16 Lady Raider points.
Rachael Baumgartner was the only player in double figures for the victors with 12 points, 6 of them coming from the free throw line.
Makenzie Viring had a double-double for Caney Valley with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Desiree Nelson had 11 points.
Hesston 58, Douglass 34
With the top seed falling earlier in the day, it appears the clear favorite to take home the title may go through Hesston.
The No. 2 Lady Swathers put on a dominant display in its quarterfinal blowout of No. 7 Douglass.
Hesston never trailed in the contest, putting 11 on the scoreboard before the Lady Bulldogs knew what hit them.
They also cashed in on nearly every Douglass mistake, converting 22 turnovers into 25 Lady Swather points.
Cami Richardson and Kelsey Unruh both had 15 points to lead Hesston, while Caylee Richardson chipped in 14.
Douglass’ lone scorer in double digits was Klair Gibson with 11 points.
Council Grove 58, Cimarron 53 in OT
The tournament’s last match-up provided the most exciting finish as No. 6 Council Grove upended No. 3 Cimarron in overtime.
The Lady Braves’ execution was spot on in the first half as they built the largest lead of the game at 25-12 in the second quarter.
“It was just looking for the right shots. Not just any one, but the right one and we stressed that this week. We did run some time off the clock and I told the girls don’t worry about the boring chants or whatever, I like winning,” said Council Grove head coach, Jason Shelangouski.
Cimarron hit just 28 percent of its first half attempts and went 0 for 12 from downtown, after lighting the world on fire in its Sub-State Championship win over Holcomb a week prior.
But, despite the Lady Bluejays fighting their shot, they managed to pick up the slack on the defensive end, using a full-court press to slowly but surely work its way back into the game, beginning the second half on an 8-0 run to make it 27-24 in favor of the Lady Braves.
They trimmed the lead to 1 on a Karina Bailon three pointer but weren’t able to take the lead in the third quarter though and midway through the fourth Council Grove was actually able to push the lead back to 9, 39-30 after a Michaela Peterson baseline drive.
The Lady Jays continued to battle and with under a minute to play had a chance to tie the game with a three and that’s exactly what junior Morgan Ediger did, picking up a rolling ball dribbling to her left and pulling up near the top of the key to make it 47-47.
Both teams had a chance to win it, but Cimarron was tied up after an Ediger miss and freshman Faith Brintle’s runner was off the mark, sending it to overtime.
In the extra session, Council Grove used its size and strength to get easy looks at the rim and clearing out opposing players as they out-rebounded the Lady Jays 41-28 on the night to advance to the semifinals with a five point win.
Kate Hula recorded a double-double for the Lady Braves with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Brintle and Peterson combined for 23 points.
Cimarron’s Morgan Ediger had a game-high 22 points, but had to work for every single one of them. Senior Ashtynn Burns ended her career with an 11 point effort.