1A Division II: Golden Plains riding hot streak into state
Published on -3/6/2013, 10:02 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
The Golden Plains girls' basketball team is on a roll.
Golden Plains started the year 2-2, but since then, the Bulldogs haven't lost. Golden Plains (20-2) has won 17 in a row, 18 counting the first-round sub-state bye.
The Bulldogs weren't slowed in their sub-state tournament, winning by 19 and 20 points, but they have been challenged this season. Six of their wins were by single figures, and their final game of the regular season came down to the final seconds.
Down by one late on Feb. 15 at Wheatland-Grinnell, Golden Plains tied it with the first of two free throws and grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on the miss to go up by two points. The Bulldogs then had to get a stop on the other end to keep their winning steak alive.
"We've won 18 in a row, and we've won them in different ways," said Golden Plains coach Parker Christensen.
Christensen said that experience could prove bountiful for his team at the Class 1A Division II state tournament.
Golden Plains, the No. 3 seed, will face Hope (17-6) in the first round at 8:15 this evening at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
It's been a slow climb for Golden Plains, which is led largely by juniors.
They took their lumps early in their careers. Several started as freshmen, and more played significant minutes as sophomores when they went 12-10 with a senior-less squad.
Now, with a few seasons of experience under their belts and an off-season of training, Golden Plains is one of the favorites to make a run at the state tournament.
"I kind of expected it from us," said junior guard Hailee Spresser. "I knew we had a really good group of girls and good bench that could step up."
It's the Bulldogs' sixth state appearance, but for senior point guard Angela Ritter, it's her first.
"It's been an awesome experience to be able to play together as a team and come together," Ritter said. "It's been a roller coaster, but we've been able to pull through."
Golden Plains got to state by playing sound defensive basketball, especially on the glass. The Bulldogs average 38.5 rebounds per game compared to 25.7 from their opponents.
Junior forward Jordan Christensen, also the leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, has grabbed a team-high 8.7 rebounds.
Golden Plains has contained teams to 35.3 points per game and only three times has allowed a team to score 50 or more points.
"Defensively, we need to be good every night, and we've been pretty good," Parker Christensen said.
Jordan Christensen is strong down low, but she's also her team's top perimeter threat, shooting 98 of her squad's 105 3-pointers. She shoots 34.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Ritter is the second-leading scorer at 10.1 points per game, and she also averages a team-high 4.9 assists.
Spresser and junior forward Kylie Jones average 7.9 and 7.8 points per game and 6.8 and 7.4 rebounds per game, respectively, while freshman guard Kami Miller adds 5.5 points per game.
With all but one player potentially back next season, Jordan Christensen said the Bulldogs' present and future are bright.
"This is just the beginning, even though this is Angela's last year," Jordan Christensen said. "We'll keep working. Our goals are the same next year. We want to be as good as we can be."