Russell girls ease into Amos Morris Classic finale
RUSSELL, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Defense wins championships. If it works in football, it probably works in basketball as well. Thursday night the Russell girls used some of that defense to build a sizable lead en route to a 41-35 win against Tipton-St. John’s. The Lady Broncs will play in the championship match against either No. 1 Central Plains (1A, Div. II) or No. 5 Phillipsburg (3A) in Saturday’s finale.
Senior Emerson Nichols opened scoring with a drive less than a minute in, then the defense near midcourt picked up with a steal from freshman Kelvie Reeves. That found senior Camille Dortland, who got it back to Reeves for the easy two.
“We’ve got some girls who can really get after it with quick, active hands,” said Russell coach Darrel Dortland. “It’s nice to have two or three I can put in and they keep it going. I’ve got a freshman who tips a lot of balls, and a senior up there as well. It almost looks like a man to man, then I can let my big girls sit back and attack when they need to.”
Dortland was big early with an early three, the assist to Reeves, and a transition basket after 6-2 senior Aniya Stierlen blocked a shot. The Lady Broncs led 13-10 after one quarter.
Russell’s defense maintained in the second half, hold St. John’s without a field goal most of the way. Late in the frame, freshman Carlie Brummer took back-to-back steals the distance in a matter of seconds for the only Lady Jay baskets in the period. Russell still led 27-16 at the break.
Aniya, I’m not sure how many blocks she had early, then they just quit coming inside,” Coach Dortland said. “That’s the best defensively we’ve played so far. Offensively it wasn’t great but we did enough.”
Scoring remained flat into the third quarter with no player making more than one field goal. A Dortland steal to freshman Tionna Napue put the Lady Broncs ahead 37-21.
The game appeared to be well in hand early in the fourth as senior Rylan Reeves scored on back-to-back trips down to give Russell a 41-24 score with 5:30 remaining. But that proved to be it for the Lady Bronc defense that did not score again as the Lady Jays got as close as 41-35 down the stretch.
Coming off the bench, the freshman Brummer paced St. John’s with 13 points to go with five boards. Ella Wiles and Leah Brummer split 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Camille Dortland scored 11 of her team-high 13 points in the first half for Russell. Reeves hit double figures with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Emma Nichols scored a big basket late to finish with 10 points and four boards.
Russell advances to the championship game against the winner of Friday’s big showdown between top-ranked Central Plains and Class 3A contender Phillipsburg.
“We’re going to have to elevate our game to compete because they’re both really good teams,” said Coach Dortland. “Central Plains is always really good and they’re well coached. Phillipsburg has a great girl and some other really good players. It will be a big challenge for our girls but we’ll come out and play hard. The girls just have a great attitude.”
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