HOISINGTON, Kan. Last year Norton came up one win shy of a Class 3A state berth. The Lady Jays are back in the sub-state finals. Thursday night in Hoisington, Norton earned a running-clock 55-23 win over Southeast of Saline to advance to Saturday night's championship game.
Norton junior Tayli Hartwell opened the game with a pair of threes for a quick 6-0 lead. Sophomore Tessa Hauser added six points in the frame, including a jumper near the buzzer for a 17-6 score after eight minutes.
Both sides struggled to shoot the ball early in the second. The Lady Jays made just two of their first 13 shots in the quarter and Southeast made just one of its first six. The big difference was on the glass. Norton grabbed 16 rebounds in the second quarter alone and out-rebounded the Trojans 22-13 in the first half. The 6-2 sophomore Hauser grabbed eight boards in the first half and senior sister Hadley Hauser grabbed five rebounds in the first two quarters.
"It really helps with my sister and I being tall because we can get rebounds and have an advantage with our height."
Norton closed out the half with a 3-pointer from sophomore Addison Brooks. Southeast got a lot basket from junior Meredith Tillberg but still trailed 28-10 at the break. The Lady Trojans went just 5 for 20 from the floor in the first half and turned the ball over eight times.
"We play pretty good defense," Tessa Hauser said. "Allison Engelbert does a really good job - one of our best who can pressure the point guard - and everyone else just plays tough D. We don't want them to keep the ball."
Lady Jay senior Taryn Kuhn snapped up six rebounds in the second quarter. She turned it on offensively with nine points in the third quarter. In the final minute of the third, Brooks scored through a foul. Her 3-pointer just 15 seconds into the final quarter set the clock in motion for good at 50-19.
Lady Trojan freshman Karsyn Schlesener paced her team with eight points. Tillberg finished with six points, and Keely Orr added five points. Senior Molly Chitty grabbed six boards to go with her two points.
Tessa Hauser led all players with 17 points and 12 boards. Kuhn also recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hartwell and Brooks each scored eight points for Norton.
It's been several years since the Lady Jays have qualified for the state tournament. Ranked No. 6 with a 19-2 record, Norton will be a favorite to advance Saturday. "Last year we lost in the sub-state championship so we want to win it this year," said Hauser.