CONCORDIA, Kan. (KWCH) On February 24, 2015, then No. 1 Central Plains ended a 44-game win streak with a loss at No. 2 Ellinwood. The following week, the Lady Oilers began a new streak with a win over Ell-Saline and a big 72-54 win over Ellinwood in the sub-state finals.
Central Plains Lady Oiler #11 Emily Ryan takes a shot in the first quarter. The Central Plains Lady Oilers faced the St. John Lady Tigers at St. John High School outside of St. John, Kansas on February 1, 2019. (Photo: Joey Bahr, www.joeybahr.com)
Since then it's been all wins. In March, Central Plains became the first girls' team to win five-straight state championships. Saturday night in Concordia, the Lady Oilers became just the second team in Kansas history to record 100-straight wins with a 72-25 win over the Panthers.
The accomplishment was barely noticed by a Lady Oiler squad that picked "Stay Humble, Stay Hungry" as this year's theme.
"Right now we're just focused on Meade," said Lady Oiler coach Pat Stiles. "All year long we've just talked about getting ready for the next game. That's the most important game. I don't think the girls think about it too much. When everything is done they'll be able to look back and say, 'Wow, that was pretty cool.'"
Most wins in the streak have featured running clocks in the fourth quarter. Saturday's game was no different as the game reach its anticlimactic conclusion with Concordia winding out the clock from the free throw line.
Junior Emily Ryan had a large part to do with that with assists to classmates Rachel Lamatsch and Delaney Rugan in the first 27 seconds of the game. Ryan hit a three in the opening frame and scored 12 points as Central Plains opened a 28-4 lead.
Ryan opened the second quarter with a pair of threes in the first 80 seconds. Late in the half, freshman Kassidy Nixon's offensive board led to points from sophomore Jennah Jeffrey. In the final seconds of the second, Ryan picked up another assist by finding a wide-open Lexi Oeser. The lead grew to 48-12 by halftime.
As with many games over the past few seasons, the starters were headed for the bench at the conclusion of the third quarter. Ryan finished strong with a pair of treys to cap a 30-point night. Delaney Rugan scored eight of her 10 points in the first half, and Oeser, Nixon, Avery Hurley, and Addison Crites each scored six points. Concordia sophomore Kendall Reynolds paced her side with 10 points, and Katlynn Miller added nine points.
At the conclusion of the game, the only indication the Lady Oilers had reached a milestone was Jeffrey's sister, Eliza, bouncing up and down in the stands with a sign.
"I didn't know," Lamatsch said of the streak. "Someone said something after the game and all of us were honestly a little confused about it."
The current group of Lady Oiler juniors and seniors have yet to lose as high school players. The juniors last lost a game to Victoria in the seventh grade.
"It makes us, I feel, more driven to keep it going," Rugan said. "It gives us that energy to keep playing our game because it feels good to win."
And there are no signs of slowing down. Hurley is the only senior on the team who plays regular minutes, and the team continues to figure things out in practice. The next milestone, possibly coming this postseason, is Hoxie's all-time win-streak record of 107 games.
"We’re hitting our stride, especially defensively," Stiles said. "We've gotten so much better defensively, our team defense and helping each other out on the floor and talking. We're a lot better defensively."
"We know there are so many people out there watching us," Hurley said, "so we need to stay humble but keep that same drive to go out there and just play our game."