WAKEENEY, Kan. - WaKeeney-Trego senior Libby Frost played the entire contest in the Purple and Gold tournament championship game. Frost kept her even-keeled personality, contributed in all facets and had to continually guard Oakley senior standout Jordyn Lowrie.
Trego junior Lili Shubert has battled through a fractured hand she suffered last winter. Shubert has refused surgery or significant time away from sports.
On Saturday, Frost and Shubert, the team's top-two players for several years, led the Golden Eagles to a 50-38 home victory versus Oakley. It marked the second straight year WaKeeney defeated the Plainsmen for the title.
“It's all about all the girls making sacrifices for the greater good of the team,” coach Donnie Shubert said. “That's what I love about this team.”
WaKeeney made several key defensive adjustments and opened on an 11-0 run. The Golden Eagles led 19-6 after the first quarter and held a double-figure advantage the majority of the contest.
WaKeeney-Trego, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, improved to 4-0. Oakley dropped to 3-1. The pair of Mid-Continent League squads will match up in a conference contest Tuesday.
“That's awesome,” Frost said. “The feeling of winning it never gets old, so winning a tournament like this, I mean, it's just unreal. I love it. That's why we play the game – to win.”
On Friday, WaKeeney required a second half comeback to beat Victoria in a contest where Lili Shubert and Frost each finished in single figures.
“I felt like we took it for granted when Victoria came out and hit us in the mouth,” coach Shubert said.
WaKeeney watched how Oakley lined up on the press break. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Golden Eagles met for a walk through for about an hour in the Trego's back gym. WaKeeney normally uses the pack line half court defense. The Golden Eagles focused on extending the defense, ran a little zone trap, and some man-to-man.
“We just didn't handle their pressure,” Oakley coach Mike Zimmerman said. “We knew exactly what they were going to do. We worked on it for two days, their 2-2-1 they liked to run after makes, and we kind of got in spots that we didn't want to be in. And we just had way too many turnovers in the first quarter, and that led to some easy baskets for them, and they are a very physical team.”
Frost tallied the game's first basket on a turnaround jumper. She added another score off an offensive rebound for a 6-0 advantage in a physical contest.
“I used to not, but then my mom got pretty mad at me when I showed my facial expressions,” Frost said. “So I've just learned to keep a poker face the whole game, don't let people know what you are thinking. Kind of like if you are tired, you don't let the other team know.”
In the first quarter, Frost tallied six points, three rebounds and a steal. Overall, she finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
“We just really focused in the locker room from last game,” Frost said. “We knew we didn't come out focused, so that was kind of our goal this time.”
Additionally, Frost had excellent interior defense on Lowrie, a returning first team all-league player.
“I love playing against her,” Frost said. “She is so nice. Actually, we are friends outside of it, but she plays really hard, and it causes me to work hard, and it makes me better to play against her.”
Lowrie ended with a game-best 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks and missed part of the game late with cramps. Oakley senior point guard Danielle Allison was bothered by a quad and finished with just three points. Overall, WaKeeney finished plus-14 on the glass and had seven fewer turnovers.
“She will make sacrifices for the good of the team,” coach Shubert said of Frost. “That's why we need her on the team. … She doesn't have to score a lot to influence the game.”
By the 3 minute, 49 second mark of the first quarter, WaKeeney led 11-0. Oakley was 0 of 3 shooting and had six turnovers.
“We have to be stronger with the ball,” Zimmerman said. “And we have to rebound the ball, too. Those are the two differences in the game.”
Last winter, Lili Shubert averaged 15.4 points per contest and earned honorable mention all-state by the Kansas coaches. About a week into basketball, though, Shubert fractured her left hand and had multiple fingers swell up.
“She couldn't close it most of the season,” coach Shubert said.
Lili Shubert is a state placer in pole vault. Coach Shubert, Lili's father, asked her if she wanted to have surgery, miss basketball, and then come back for track. Or she could finish basketball and then miss track. She told her dad, “no way” and participated in both.
“She wants to play,” coach Shubert said.
Healthier this season, Lili has bettered her offensive arsenal.
“It took some time to get back to normal,” she said.
She finished Saturday with 13 points and three rebounds. Shubert and junior Tillie Malinowsky (13 points, seven rebounds) tied for the team-high in scoring. Shubert scored in a variety of ways, including a drive and floater in the first quarter.
“We all do what's best for the team, and that helps us,” Lili said.
Shubert hit a trey early in the third. In her first two seasons, Shubert sunk 28 treys on 22 percent shooting from long range. She completed the third quarter with a running bank shot. The Golden Eagles led 40-26 entering the fourth. With 6:41 left, Shubert had an impressive spin move, drive and finish with the left hand. Oakley cut the deficit to 42-33, but Lili quickly scored on a drive where she drew a foul to bump the lead to 11.
“That's also what makes us good,” coach Shubert said. “We are calm all the time. Lili, you can't tell if we are winning or losing. Libby is the exact same way.”