WaKEENEY — For the bulk of the second half of Thursday’s Class 2A sub-state semifinal, the Hill City girls basketball team managed to fend off Trego’s runs and maintain a slim lead.
When Trego finally knotted the score with just less than two minutes left and got the home crowd going, Hill City never panicked.
Relying on their core group of seniors, the Ringnecks got a key basket and hit free throws down the stretch to put away the Golden Eagles in a 61-57 victory at Trego.
No. 2-seeded Hill City (19-3) will meet top-seeded Hoxie (20-1) in the sub-state finals at 6 p.m. Saturday in WaKeeney.
“We knew it was going to be tough here,” Hill City coach Linda Nighswonger said. “Trego’s been playing really well and they were on their home floor with their home crowd. Just proud of the girls for sticking with the game plan and being strong with the ball.”
Hill City led 31-26 at halftime and the second half remained tight throughout. The Ringnecks got up by as much as seven with 3:38 left but Trego answered with an 8-1 run and tied it up on two free throws from Lili Shubert with 1:54 left.
Carrie Kennedy put Hill City up for good with a running layup with 58 seconds left, and the Ringnecks took advantage of a couple missed free throws from Trego to remain in front.
Lauren Jones hit two foul shots to put Hill City up 60-57 with 17 seconds left, and Conner Keith sealed the win by making a steal and hitting a free throw with three seconds remaining.
Hill City was led by seniors Keith (16 points), Jones (13), Kennedy (13) and Ellie Keener (9).
“Some of them have probably played every minute of every game for the last four years,” Nighswonger said. “We’ve been in tight situations, and they can handle the pressure and take care of the ball. They know what we expect.”
Trego, which finished the year 15-7, was led by Shubert’s 23 points while Tillie Malinowsky and Gracie Pfannenstiel added 11 each.
“I told the girls it was a true heavyweight fight,” Trego coach Donnie Shubert said. “I thought we exchanged blows. (Hill City) came out on top, but I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.”
Hoxie 54, Plainville 38 — Plainville’s Aubrey Dewey pretty much single-handedly propelled the Cardinals to a 26-24 halftime lead, but Hoxie found a way to keep the standout sophomore guard contained in the second half.
Dewey finished with a game-high 26 points but was limited to six points after halftime as the Indians began to impose their will in the third quarter.
“We were scratching our heads about how to stop Aubree Dewey,” Hoxie coach Jared Dowell said. “We tried to go to a little bit of zone. I watched other teams do that and it seemed to be kind of effective. It’s not our strong point, though. I just wasn’t comfortable that it was going to hold very long, so we went to the box and one, and that obviously was the ticket.
“Aubree’s just good, and it wasn’t going to be just a one-on-one matchup. We adjusted, and it worked out.”
The Indians had the advantage inside, with senior forward Rebekah Castle scoring a team-high 18 points. She was joined in double figures by Addi Campbell (14) and Lauren Schamberger (10).
“We slowed down a little bit and maybe were just a little bit more patient (in the second half),” Dowell said. “We don’t get manned up very often and we’re trying to adjust that, and we did. We were patient.”