Golden Plains staves off rally from Hope
Published on -3/7/2013, 10:00 AM
By NICK McQUEEN
In the first half of Wednesday's first-round game of the Class 1A Division II state championships at Gross Memorial Coliseum, the Rexford-Golden Plains High School girls' basketball team seemed nearly unbeatable.
The Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed, after trailing 4-3 in the first quarter, jumped ahead, and eventually methodically pulled away from seventh-seeded Hope, and then won 58-43.
The victory, though, didn't come without a scare from a Lions team that suits up just eight players, and played just six most of the game.
"We scored the basketball pretty good," Golden Plains coach Parker Christensen said. "They were playing a little bit of junk defense, and we had a few of the other girls that stepped up and scored.
"We just got a little tentative to start the second half."
Golden Plains (21-2), now a winner of 19 straight games, was clearly better through the end of the first and most of the second quarter, surging to as much as a 12-point lead.
Junior Jordan Christensen hit a 3-pointer to start the second quarter to put the Bulldogs up 19-10, but late in the quarter, Hope started to hit shots. Senior Alissa Lauxman narrowed the gap to 26-17 with a 3.
"They hit the shots," Christensen said. "We've done that before, and have kind of been able to right the ship a little bit, and push it back out."
"We just had to stay the course, and just keep plugging."
By the midway point of the third quarter, Hope (17-8) surged back to within one point, off a steal and layup by Lauxman.
"The first six minutes to the third quarter, I told the girls we had to play our type of basketball," said Hope coach Chris Brown. "They were diving all over the floor, creating turnovers. We just ran out of gas the last minute or two. But that was Hope basketball to a 'T.' "
Junior Kylie Jones hit a pair of free throws on the other end after a feed from senior point guard Angela Ritter. The shots put the Bulldogs back up by three.
"You saw a little (jitters) in the second half when they started to make their run and pull a bit closer," Christensen said of his team. "Being able to stay ahead and not let it get tied was probably a great deal for us."
When Hope pulled within one using its press, Coach Christensen called a timeout.
"They can get a little bit down on themselves, and I just told them 'Relax, we're fine,' " he said. "We just had to get a little better defensively, here or there -- not let them score each time down the floor."
Every time Hope made a rally, Golden Plains had an answer. Ritter pushed the lead back to seven with 1:22 left in the quarter.
"She's an important key," Christensen said of the Bulldogs' lone senior. "She pushes the ball, keeps her head up. She really allows us to get our athletes out and run."
Junior Hailee Spresser pushed the lead to nine with a putback near the end of the quarter, and by the start of the fourth, Golden Plains again mounted a double-digit lead.
"We couldn't be even with them," Brown said. "If we were, they would get the rebound. We just ran out of gas, and they pushed the lead to double digits."
Spresser led the way for Golden Plains with 14 points, while Christensen added 11 with 10 rebounds. Jones scored 14.
Lauxman scored 14 for the Lions, hitting 4 of 12 from 3-point range.
It stayed that way the rest of the game, as Golden Plains earned a semifinal matchup with Norwich (23-1), a 56-35 winner against Dighton. Friday's semifinal is slated for 6:30 p.m.
In the top half of the bracket, Ingalls opened the day with a 54-27 blowout against eighth-seeded LeRoy-Southern Coffey County. Ingalls jumped out big in the first half, and played subs for most of the second half.
It's the second year in a row Ingalls drew a sub-.500 team for the first game, and the second year in a row to earn a blowout in the first round. Ingalls (24-0) will face Wilson (21-2) in Friday's other semifinal.
Wilson earned a hard-fought, 53-47 win against Baileyville-B&B, as the Dragons had to pull away late, despite standout Karlie Steinle playing with four fouls most of the fourth quarter. Steinle subbed in and out for offense and defense most of the quarter, and helped Wilson stave off the fifth-seeded Falcons.