WAKEENEY, Kan. - In the first 10 years of the Purple and Gold tournament, the WaKeeney-Trego Community girls’ basketball team reached three finals, but lost each time. The last time the Golden Eagles reached a title was 2011, and the last occasion Trego captured a first round contest was 2013.
However, the Golden Eagles had a much improved team last winter and returned the bulk of its squad this winter. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles defeated Oakley, 32-24, in a tough, defensive battle to win the crown.
“It just means a lot to the girls,” coach Donnie Shubert said. “They have been working hard. I know the season is early, but they have been working hard, and I feel like they deserved this.”
WaKeeney trailed 4-0 and 6-5 early, but led 7-6 after the first quarter and maintained the lead throughout the contest. Neither team made a 3-pointer. Oakley shot 8 of 40 (20 percent) from the field.
“We got outhustled to some of the 50-50 balls, and we will correct that, but just not giving up,” Shubert said. “Once we start playing better on offense, I think we will be tough to beat. We are just a helping defense. We think all our girls can defend one through five, but we don’t want to switch.”
This season, Oakley is 2-2 but has allowed just 29.5 points a contest. Oakley coach Mike Zimmerman has emphasized his team reaching 40 points.
WaKeeney shot 13 of 50 (26 percent) from the field and moved to 4-0. The Golden Eagles finished plus-five on the glass. Sophomore Lili Shubert, last year’s top scorer and rebounder, led WaKeeney with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Oakley junior Jordyn Lowrie scored the game’s first four points and led with eight. Oakley struggled some versus WaKeeney’s half-court man.
“We have to be better at setting screens and attacking the rim when we can, and we have got to find a way to score, there is no doubt about it,” Zimmerman said. “Defensively, we are going to hurt people. We have all year long.”
Oakley took advantage of nine fourth quarter WaKeeney turnovers and cut the deficit to 27-24 before Lowrie missed a free throw. Shubert went coast-to-coast, was fouled and made two free throws for a 29-24 lead with 42.3 seconds left. The teams play again Tuesday in WaKeeney.
“Since the beginning of the year, we have talked about defense has got to be a constant,” Shubert said. “Offense is going to come and go.”