Putting in their time, Lady Red head to Bramlage
Published on -3/6/2013, 10:00 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
A rarely-looked at statistic, especially in high school basketball, is minutes played. However, that number tells the story of how the Smith Center High School girls' basketball team advanced to the Class 2A state tournament, and had drastic improvement this year from several players.
Last week, three teams, Ellis, Smith Center and Oakley, all entered the semifinals of the Plainville sub-state, with fewer than three losses. The trio had spent much of the season in the state rankings. Smith Center, the No. 2 seed, drew No. 3 Oakley in the semifinal.
The Lady Red outscored Oakley by 17 points in the second half and won 67-50. The five starters combined for all but 14 minutes, 18 seconds. Senior Blair McNary, a reserve all career, became a starter in late season when senior Briana Dietz suffered a season-ending knee injury. She played all 32 minutes. Senior guard Alexis Ryan played 30 minutes, 20 seconds, while senior guard Trenna Cox played 30:15.
Senior Sydney Benoit played 27:12, and junior forward Colbie Decker played 26:05.
On Saturday, Linn had similar tactics in the sub-state championship versus Ellis. The starters played all but 19 minutes, 32 seconds.
"I rolled the dice," coach Nick Linn said. "I didn't sub very often and I went with my gut."
Ryan tallied 28:29, while McNary played 28:22. Benoit finished with 25:50 and Cox had 23:56. Decker had some foul trouble, but still led the team with 16 points in 16:16 of playing time. The Lady Red (21-2) after falling short of the state tournament the last couple of years, moved on with a 59-48 victory.
"My kids were dead," Linn said. "You look at it, we didn't sub very often the last two nights. We found a second wind. In the fourth quarter, we had a couple of things go our way. Hit a few free throws. Colbie Decker came through."
The Lady Red will play No. 7 seed Sedan (17-6) on Thursday at Kansas State University's Bramlage Coliseum. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
"We have got five girls who are working well together and have some chemistry together," Linn said. "I am excited."
Benoit, who battled a hamstring injury in the last part of the regular season, leads the team with 18.9 points, nine rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.7 assists.
"The first week I came back, it was kind of sore," Benoit said. "It feels a lot better. It's all right."
Decker averages 11.6 points a contest, while Cox has 9.8 points and a team-high 4.2 assists per game. Ryan is at 8.3 points and four steals. McNary finished with arguably the best game of her career against Ellis when she had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven steals.
"Blair has been a reserve her whole life," Linn said. "The only time she has ever started was the first couple of games this year, because she was a senior, and the end of the year now, because we had the injury. She has played all these minutes. Did I ever think she could do that? No.
"She has improved," Linn added. "Girls like her and Colbie improved unbelievably from the beginning of the year -- but they had to, because those were the two that had to come in and play with Sydney and Trenna and Alexis, who had experience."