HOISINGTON, Kan. Every minute of rest counts this late in the season. Tuesday night No. 3 seed Hoisington staved off a late scare from Russell to lead by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter. Cardinal coach Kyle Haxton pulled his starters with 3:38 to play in the 61-43 win.
"We pressed again and they had a tough time with our full-court pressure," Haxton said. "It was good for us. We got up 20 and we let off the pedal a little bit."
Hoisington never trailed in the game. Late in the first half, sophomore Drew Nicholson got a loose ball on the floor and found sophomore Chase Robinson for a jumper at the buzzer. The Cards led 30-14 at the break.
The lead grew by two more as sophomore Mason Haxton picked up an assist to Ryan Woydziak on the baseline. But Russell fought back. Junior Jacob Sohm scored four points in the third quarter and senior Tyler Whipple hit a late three. The Broncs whittled the deficit to 37-29 with a quarter to play.
Hoisington's scorers answered the call in the final frame. Nicholson scored the first seven points of the quarter as the Cards bumped the cushion back to 44-29. Robinson added free throws, then his offensive board led to a drive from Haxton.
Haxton capped a 21-point night with a trey, then Nicholson's free throws gave Hoisington its 55-34 lead with 3:38 to play. Nicholson scored 11 of his 19 in the final quarter.
"They're great players," Coach Haxton said Nicholson and Haxton. "They're two of the best players in our league as sophomores. You have individuals who can score inside and out like they can. I'm just glad they're on my team. They're heady basketball players and easy to coach."
Woydziak added nine points for the Cardinals. Whipple paced Russell with 11 points, and Ceaonte Walston scored seven of his nine points in the first half. Sohm finished with eight points.
Hoisington advances to Friday's sub-state semifinal game against TMP.