WaKEENEY, Kan - Otis-Bison girls’ basketball coach Bobby Trapp has coached the three Cougar seniors since third grade: forwards Maddie Wiltse and Cora Anderson and his daughter, Cristen, the starting point guard. Coach Trapp highly emphasizes footwork and keeps the same 10 to 15 minute regimen to start practice.
“Every day we work on footwork,” he said.
On Saturday, O-B’s preparation led to a 51-37 victory against Rexford-Golden Plains in a Class 1A sub-state championship game at WaKeeney-Trego Community High School. The Cougars had a significant height advantage with the 6-foot-2 Wiltse, along with 6-1 Anderson, 5-11 junior forward Lauren Maier and 5-10 Trapp.
“I told them, I said, ‘All this work that we have done, it’s really paid off tonight, because our footwork is there,’” coach Trapp said. “We get the basketball, we go score.”
Otis-Bison improved to 23-2 and has set the school mark for single season victories. The Cougars improved to 88-30 in Trapp’s five seasons. Golden Plains, with no senior starters and only one player above 5-10, finished 24-1.
It marked the second straight year GP carried a perfect record in the sub-state championship game, and then suffered a loss. Otis-Bison will play in the 1A state tournament next week at Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena. The Cougars’ lone two losses have come against Central Plains, ranked first in 1A and on the state’s all-time longest winning streak.
“That size is hard to play against,” GP coach Parker Christensen said. “I mean, everybody that plays them other than Central Plains figures that out.”
Otis-Bison continually ran its trademark patient offense and worked the ball inside. In two sub-state games, O-B didn’t sink a 3-pointer.
Wiltse delivered 29 points and 13 rebounds. The Cougars’ finished plus-8 on the glass. Golden Plains shot 21 percent (11 of 53) from the field, including 5 of 28 on 3s. Junior Ashley Stoll paced GP with 13 points.
“Just smooth,” Christensen said of Wiltse. “It doesn’t look like she’s playing very hard, but she is playing hard. It’s just not a great effort for her to do what she does. So we will contest her as hard as we could, but we just don’t have the size.”
Anderson collected 12, and Trapp scored six despite a shoulder problem that required kinesio tape. Trapp, Anderson and Maier all tallied four assists. O-B never trailed and led 14-4 after the first quarter.
“Right from the beginning, we took it to them,” coach Trapp said. “Maddie had a really good game inside. Cora hit some shots early on. Lauren handled the basketball throwing it in. They played really good early.”
Wiltse, a Nebraska-Kearney signee who averages 17 points a game, has three straight 20 point and 10 rebound performances in the last two years of sub-state games. She cleared 1,540 career points Saturday.
“We just know that you have got to play up to the level of your competition, and they are going to come out ready to go, so we have got too also,” Wiltse said.
Last year, Otis-Bison fell 49-40 to Thunder Ridge in the sub-state semifinals. TR then beat Golden Plains in the sub-state finals. This year, TR and GP entered sub-state with perfect records.
On Friday, O-B beat Thunder Ridge, 33-28, in a game that featured several Cougar possessions that lasted longer than a minute. The Cougars held TR to 17 percent shooting.
“That was our big focus all week long, and actually for pretty much the whole season, we have been focusing on Thunder Ridge,” Wiltse said. “Knowing we’d probably get paired up with them, so having that out of the way, I think we could all take a deep breath and just get back to going out and playing.”
Trapp hurt her shoulder freshman year in volleyball. At first, it was believed she tore her labrum. Trapp then wrenched her shoulder in physical play against Thunder Ridge. Trapp and Anderson both did not have a field goal versus TR.
Coach Trapp said it was difficult for his daughter to shoot with the shoulder. Cristen, who called the shoulder “pretty painful,” had two key baskets off backdoor cuts and Maier assists for an early 4-2 lead.
“It was fun to play,” Cristen said. “We knew that we had to come out here and play our game.”
Golden Plains often played man-to-man and had 1-on-1 matchups in the post versus Wiltse and Anderson. Coach Trapp, whether he has boys or girls, has liked when teams play man.
“I have always said it’s really tough on teams to play man-to-man,” he said. “Because if you go inside – and whether I coach a 5-5 guy or I’ve got a girl that is 6-3 – you can post up on somebody inside 1-on-1.”
Late in volleyball, Golden Plains lost Mabel Lugo, a key post and last year’s top rebounder, to a knee injury that has kept her out of all of basketball. In the summer, Lugo played well against Norton’s Tessa Hauser, a similar player to Wiltse.
“This is the first game all year where the absence of the Lugo girl really hurt us,” Christensen said. “…Not that we could have done it, but I think it would have definitely made a difference.”
Otis-Bison led 22-14 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Cougars delivered a 12-0 run for a 36-17 lead. Wiltse had eight points in the run, Anderson four.
“Wiltse is a guard in a 6-2 body,” Christensen said. “She knows how to handle the ball and show and spin and finish. I couldn’t be any prouder of the effort of the (GP) girls.”
Four of the field goals came off passes in the post where Wiltse and Anderson effectively worked around the defense, footwork that starts in daily practice.
“He is definitely very detail-oriented, and that has helped me a lot, especially just since freshman year working on my footwork,” Wiltse said. “And all the time working on post moves and even during the scrimmage, he will stop and he will be like, ‘Nope, fix your footwork, go this way, this way,’ and so that’s definitely made a huge difference. Because without the footwork, you can’t get in the right angle to go score.”