By CONOR NICHOLL
MANHATTAN -- At the 2 minute, 25 second mark of the first quarter, the Ellis High School girls' basketball team had a seven-point lead. The Railroaders ran their trademark press and played aggressively against Washington County in the first round of the Class 2A state tournament.
Ellis had two blocks and four steals. Senior Sidney Gottschalk took a charge. Sophomore Alexcia Deutscher made a basket, senior Brittany Dinkel made two treys, and junior Stephanie Greenway scored off a steal.
"Maybe Washington County was a little bit surprised there for a moment or two that they were getting pressed," Ellis coach Perry Mick said.
With Ellis up 14-7, the game quickly changed. Washington County went on a 14-0 run over the first and second quarters. Ellis eventually lost 64-44 on Wednesday at Kansas State University's Bramlage Coliseum.
"We haven't seen teams like this, and it was an honor to play against them," Deutscher said.
Washington County, in the first state appearance in school history, wreaked havoc with its press, and 6-foot-1 junior forward Erin Alexander scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Ellis finished minus-17 on the glass.
"They came out and they really took us out of our game," Mick said. "They did a nice job. They are a good team, they made shots. We didn't respond very well, and that's a little disappointing. I would have thought that we would have faced adversity a little better than that."
Ellis, the No. 6 seed, finished the season 19-5. The Railers have won 39 games the last two seasons and reached state for the first time since a runner-up showing in '08-09.
"I am really emotional," a teary-eyed Deutscher said. "It's a tough loss. At least we made it to state. We accomplished so many goals this year."
Third-seeded Washington County (21-2) moved into the semifinals against No. 2 seed Jefferson Co. North (24-0) on Friday.
"I've got to give credit to them," Mick said. "They played very well. They did a good job, and we didn't."
Deutscher averaged a team-high 14.9 points, while Greenway was third in scoring at 7.9 points per game. Deutscher finished 2 of 15 from the field and 1 of 6 from the foul line for five points with seven blocks, four rebounds and six turnovers. Deutscher had a collision while going for a steal and hurt her calf during the game. But shots never fell throughout the contest.
Washington County continually contested shots whenever Deutscher drove inside and kept Ellis from fast breaking. Greenway played with a hurt wrist that required tape on the wrist and some fingers. She finished 1 of 4 for three points.
"We kind of saw on film that (Deutscher) is really right-handed," coach Scott Romeiser said. "We tried to overplay her to the right. For the most part, I thought we did a really good job."
Ellis jumped out to a 10-3 lead and led 14-7 at the 2:25 mark before Washington County quickly took the lead. Dinkel (team-high 16 points, 4 of 7 on 3s) gave Ellis a 17-13 advantage with 1:36 remaining in the quarter.
"We had a lot of nerves early," Romeiser said. "The same thing happened to us in sub-state. In the championship game, we got down like 7-2, and we finally kind of relaxed and made some shots."
Then, the Tigers tallied the next 14 points. The last two baskets of the first quarter came off steals, including one from freshman Annie Otott. She finished with a game-high 19 points off the bench.
"The pressure - when they were doing the full court press really got to us," Dinkel said. "We struggled with that. We really didn't have anyone pressure us during the season. They were really good. They had good ballhandlers. I think that really put them at an advantage. They were really quick."
In the halfcourt, Washington County collected 27 offensive rebounds and continually got behind the Railer defense for layups. Ellis trailed 36-24 at halftime and 51-35 after three quarters.
"You have to pay so much attention to the Alexander girl," Mick said. "We got drawn way up on her, and it left the backside exposed."