There was a familiar feeling at the Mid-Continent Tournament on Friday. Maybe it was one half of the bracket on both the boys and girls side featured rematches of last year’s title games. Maybe it was that Plainville, Phillipsburg and Smith Center own five of the last seven boys titles or that Ellis, Smith Center and Hill City own the last four girls championships.
Ellis won last year’s MCL girls title, by beating Smith Center. The Lady Red were 2012 champs and the 2013 2A State Champs. The meeting Friday’s MCL semis, would be all Lady Railers, though SC did hold a 10-8 lead after one quarter.
Ellis stepped up its offense in the second quarter, led by sophomore Alexcia Deutscher’s 16 first half points, and then the Lady Railers stepped up its defense in the third quarter, holding the Lady Red to 2 points in the third. The result was a 57-29 Ellis victory. Deutscher finished with 22 in the contest.
“We had spent a lot of years never seeing the final game of this (tournament),” said Lady Railers head coach Perry Mick. “This will be the fifth time we’ve been there and so it feels really good. It’s exciting every time.”
The Lady Ringnecks, who won back to back titles in 2010-11, came into the night as the number one seed in the tournament, had more than they can handle in forth seeded Phillipsburg. The Lady Panthers, who have never won an MCL title, lead by 30 at the half. Mindy Gower had 20 in a 72-31 Phillipsburg victory. It is the P-burg girls first trip to the title game since back to back runners up finishes in 2008-2009.
On the boys side of the bracket, Phillipsburg beat Plainville for the MCL championship last season, with the Panther coming out on top. That would not be the case in the rematch in this season’s semifinal. Lead by Hadley Gillum’s 24 points, the Cards, who are ranked number 9 in Class 2A, easily advanced to the MCL title game with a 69-56 victory. This marks the fourth straight trip to the title game for Plainville, which won back to back titles in 2011-12.
“We started getting defensive boards and when we get defensive boards we like to push in transition,” said Cardinals head coach Chris Drees. “We were able to capitalize on some second quarter fast break opportunities and get us the lead into halftime.”
The Cards will square off with Smith Center. The Redmen, had a tough battle with conference newcomers Oakley in the final game of the night, before pulling out a 59-52 victory. Smith Center last won an MCL title in 2008.