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Dodge City girls headed to Wichita after win against Derby

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 10:05 PM CST
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DODGE CITY, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Any other season Dodge City, with its 20-1 record, would have entered the Class 6A bracket as the No. 3 seed. But Covid-19 has made the 2020-21 season anything but normal. Tuesday night in Dodge City, the Lady Demons may as well have been the No. 1 seed, advancing to the state semifinals in Wichita Friday with a 55-30 win against Derby.

“It’s really cool,” said Dodge City senior Kisa Unruh, who had the opportunity to win a state game on her home court. “It means a lot to have all of our fans here because at the beginning of the season we didn’t have any fans. Having as many supporters as we do right now feels really good. To do it with my teammates feels amazing.”

Dodge City entered state with just one loss to a McPherson team that is among the final four teams playing in Class 4A. The Demons have held 17 of their 22 opponents to 40 points or fewer this season. Tuesday Dodge held Derby to just six points in the first and fourth quarters combined. The Panthers shot just 29 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 22 times.

“We always talk about defense wins championships,” said Demon coach Kelley Snodgrass. “These girls really focus on team defense and being there for one another. Lauren Gleason does a great job of communicating and being whatever I need her to be.”

Not that the game was not without peril. Leading 26-16 at the half, sophomore Becca Unruh pushed the Dodge City lead to 13 points 53 seconds into the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Derby fought back with a trey from junior Tatum Boettjer and four-straight from senior Derryana Cobbins. A steal and basket from Cobbins capped a 9-0 run that whittled the gap to 29-25 with 3:14 to play in the third.

Then Lady Demon junior Camree Johnson simply took over. The senior Gleason ended Derby’s run with a 3-pointer, then Johnson added an and-one. Johnson added to more baskets in the third and continued her run into the fourth. She put up 14 of her 17 points in less than five minutes as Dodge City grew its lead back to 49-28.

“Camree’s a tough match-up,” Snodgrass said. “She can shoot it from the outside, off the bounce, and going left she’s about unstoppable. I gave her a hard time in the last game because she didn’t show up until the second half. I said I needed her for both halves this game and she showed up.”

Dodge City continued to dominate both ends of the floor late. Derby’s only points in the fourth quarter came with 4:57 remaining on a pair of free throws from sophomore Addyson Brown.

Brown scored all four Derby points in the first quarter. She entered the night averaging 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. She finished with 16 points and 11 boards in her season finale. Cobbins added seven points, and Boettjer scored five for the Panthers. Derby ends its season at 18-5.

Johnson scored 17 of her 27 points in the second half. Unruh finished with 13 points, and Gleason added eight points, four rebounds, and four assists.

Dodge City (21-1) should enter the Class 6A bracket at Wichita State opposite Topeka (22-1) Friday. Shawnee Mission Northwest (21-0) and Olathe West (15-5) round out the bracket.

“The goal is to play together, to have fun, and enjoy the ride, honestly,” Unruh said. “No one is really expecting much. We weren’t really expected to make it here but we made it. It’s just fun.”

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