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Tigers still with work to do

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

By mid-February, college basketball teams can sometimes go one of two ways. Either, they can play hard the rest of the way and try to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, or squads lose interest toward the end of the season and focus more on spring break.

The Fort Hays State University women's basketball team is in the mix for a tournament bid at 17-5, 9-5 MIAA. Still, the Tigers have plenty of work left with four regular season games remaining. Multiple close losses early in the season have forced FHSU to play well down the stretch.

"Our team is still really excited about playing and they feel like they have kind of maybe dropped the ball on a couple of those close games," coach Tony Hobson said. "What I told them, is forget about the what if (stuff). What if we would have held on to our lead at Truman? What if we would have held on to our lead at Washburn? Those games are history, and that's the beauty of sports. That's going to happen."

Fort Hays, on a five-game winning streak after a 54-53 road victory at Northwest Missouri State University on Wednesday, will travel to University of Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. Game time is 2 p.m. The Tigers collected an 87-63 home victory versus the Lopers last Saturday at home.

"You can tell by watching a team warmup whether they want to go skiing, or whether they want to go into the postseason, and I don't think our team has any skiers on it," Hobson said.

Men move closer to title

One down. Four to go.

The Fort Hays men's basketball needed five wins in its final five contests for it first MIAA championship.

On Wednesday, the Tigers used a big first half to win theirsixth straight, 64-60, against Northwest Missouri. Fort Hays moved to 16-6, 10-4 MIAA. On Saturday, the Tigers will match up against UNK (6-15, 3-10 MIAA).

Fort Hays delivered a 94-68 blowout victory versus the Lopers at home last Saturday. UNK hasn't played since.

The blowout and back-to-back games reminded coach Mark Johnson of the 2009-10 season. In the final regular season game of the year, Fort Hays beat Emporia State 94-47. Then the Tigers lost to ESU 65-61 a week later in the first round of the conference tournament.

"Eerily similar," Johnson said.