HAYS, Kan. Hays and Wichita represent the east and west boundaries of the Class 5A west sub-state bracket. Wednesday night Kapaun Mt. Carmel headed north and west in search of an upset. Instead, the Lady Indians took advantage of 47 free throws to advance with a 62-48 win.
"We practice them every day," said Hays coach Alex Hutchins. "I'm glad we made them. The big thing was their height. When you have 6-4 in the middle, that's a big deal. The rest of their roster is 5-10 and 5-11. We only have one girl over 5-9. We really wanted to spread them out and play an open-style game. I'm glad the girls didn't settle for outside shots. They spread the floor but they continued to attack. That's what we drew so many fouls."
The 62-point finish was not representative of an ugly start offensively on both ends of the floor. The Lady Indians missed their first nine shots from the field, and Kapaun was little better at 2 for 14. Hays senior Savannah Schneider kicked off a big free throw night with four in the first quarter and senior Jaycee Dale added a late transition basket for a 12-7 lead after eight minutes.
Kapaun fought to get the ball into the 6-4 sophomore Ella Anciaux. She scored just two points in the first quarter but knocked down a quick pair of baskets to open the second. With a 13-11 lead, Hays junior Brooke Denning kicked off a 13-0 run with a trey. Schneider closed the run with free throws and junior Isabel Robben hit a baseline jumper late in the half to send Hays into the break with a 28-13 lead.
The Lady Indians led 30-13 early in the third quarter before Kapaun sophomore Evan Dallian swished a three. Anciaux added a basket to cut the gap to 12 points. Anciaux finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 5 of 12 shooting from the floor.
"I felt like we did a great job of fronting, getting help, and at least making them for what they got," Hutchins said. "They went on a little run in the third quarter where they got her a couple of looks and we saw that on film as well. We knew they were going to try to force it, especially at the beginning of the half. I'm really proud of the way the girls persevered and did a pretty good of attacking her on offense."
Hays shot 23 free throws in the final quarter. That helped the Lady Indians to a 58-40 advantage with just two minutes to play. The Crusaders put up one more fight capped by a trey from senior Stacey Le. With the deficit all the way down to 58-48, the Lady Indians ran 29 valuable seconds off the clock before junior Tasiiah Nunnery spoiled any hopes of a comeback with a pair of free throws.
Dallian finished with nine points for Kapaun, and junior Ava Ayala added eight points before fouling out. Schneider scored 11 of her 13 points from the free throw line to lead Hays. She also grabbed five rebounds. Nunnery finished with 11 points, Denning score nine points, and Dale added seven points and six boards.
With Wednesday's win, Hays (13-6) will play at third-ranked Goddard (19-1) in Friday's sub-state semifinal.
"Talking to a few coaches, they said (Goddard) is one of the best defensive teams in the state," said Hutchins. "It's a long road trip, it's a tough foe. Your goal in the season, whether you win state or not, is to see how you stack up against the state's best. We get a chance to do that Friday."