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Castle Rock: Golden Plains girls off to good start

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

QUINTER -- Rexford-Golden Plains junior forward Kylie Jones said her team has a chart outlining steps the Bulldogs have to take to reach state.

The steps are games marked with Xs leading up to the final goal: "GMC," or Gross Memorial Coliseum -- the site of the Class 1A Division II state basketball tournament.

"We are hoping to X off each game on our way there," Jones said.

It's early, but Golden Plains (2-0) is off to a good start.

The Bulldogs defeated Atwood-Rawlins County 65-39 in the first round of the 29th Annual Castle Rock Classic on Tuesday in Quinter.

Golden Plains dominated the paint and shot 26 of 44 from the field.

Jones led the Bulldogs with 17 points off 7-of-12 shooting, and senior Angela Ritter added 14 points off 4-of-4 shooting and 6-of-7 shooting from the foul line.

"We have lots of experience and talent," Jones said. "Hopefully we can put it together to make something happen."

Golden Plains is a young contender, with several of its starters playing significant minutes as freshmen. They played 3-on-3 basketball when they were younger as well as summer league.

Even now, they are still young with only one senior on the varsity roster, but the Bulldogs have invested enough time that they are attracting people's attention, earning a No. 7 ranking in the 1A Division II statewide coaches' poll.

"They feel like they've matured enough that they deserve to be on the floor with some better teams," said Golden Plains head coach Parker Christensen.

Golden Plains struggled early in the first quarter and trailed Rawlins County (1-2) by four points, but then the Bulldogs switched to a zone defense that stifled the Bufflaoes.

Rawlins County attempted to shoot its way out of it, but the Buffs struggled from beyond the arc, making just 6 of 25 3-point shots.

Only Rawlins County senior guard Tasia Reuber got hot, making 7 of 14 shots and 5 of 12 from 3-point range to lead her team with 21 points -- a tournament high so far on the boys' and girls' sides.

"The little Tasia Rueber is really hot. Usually, Keshia Green hits (shots) well for us, but she was cold tonight," said Rawlins County head coach John Terry.

Green, a junior guard, finished with just two points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Golden Plains didn't need to shoot from range, as the Bulldogs dominated the transition game and made easy shots.

Rawlins County committed 21 turnovers to Golden Plains' 15, and the Bulldogs made the Buffaloes pay.

After trailing 8-4 with 4:45 remaining in the first quarter, Golden Plains went on a run where the team made its next 10 shots in a row and led 25-18 with 6:51 remaining in the second quarter.

From the start of that run to when Golden Plains put its subs in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs shot spectacularly, making 26 of 35 shots.

"We want to attack the paint, and if they help, we can pitch to someone and finish at the basket," Christensen said.

Other first-round games

Grainfield/Wheatland-Grinnell made an impressive comeback in its first-round game against Dighton.

The Thunderhawks overcame a 9-point deficit with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter and went on a 13-0 run in three minutes using their press to force Dighton turnovers. Wheatland-Grinnnell won 47-43.

Junior Shania Dirks and senior Brooke Ostmeyer were clutch during that run. Dirks scored 6 points and Ostmeyer had 5 during that run.

However, Wheatland-Grinnell gave Dighton an opportunity to come back, making just 1 of 6 free throws down the stretch, but the Hornets didn't take advantage.

"Those two kids have got to make shots for us to be successful, and they stepped up big in the last three minutes of the ball game and made some shots when it mattered," said Wheatland-Grinnell head coach Tyler Flavin. "Thankfully, they made those, and we didn't have to go to the free throw line and make any free throws, because we struggled there."

Ostmeyer led the Thunderhawks with 19 points.

Dighton junior Diamond Brown led her squad with 17 points, and junior Shambrey Budd added 10. Dighton's tallest player, 5-foot-10 junior Leslie Speer fouled out late in the game, which helped Wheatland-Grinnell come back.

Hoxie and Ellis dominated their first-round games.

Hoxie defeated Bird City-Cheylin 85-23 that seemed over after the first quarter when the Indians led 30-0.

Four Indians finished in double figures. Junior Kristina Farber had 13 points. Freshman Terran Hoyt posted 12, and sophomore Carly Heim and senior Marlee McKenna had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Cheylin freshman Danea Magnani led the Cougars with 7 points.

Ellis defeated Quinter 60-39.

Freshman Alexcia Deutscher led the Railroaders with 14 points, and junior Kaleigh Soneson added 12.

Quinter senior Brooke Flax posted a team-high 18 points.