Golden Plains girls, Wallace County boys fall in semis
By NICK McQUEEN
The Norwich High School girls' basketball team will get a shot Saturday to play for its first state championship since 1988.
But, for a while in Friday's semifinal of the Class 1A Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum, it didn't seem like the second-seeded Eagles wanted to all that much.
But, even the Eagles' opponent, third-seeded Rexford-Golden Plains, didn't really take the bull by the horns.
Norwich won what both coaches called a “tentative” semifinal game, 32-29, to advance to Saturday's 4 p.m. title bout with unbeaten Ingalls.
“We played awfully tight, and couldn't make anything,” Norwich coach Mike Klaver said. “It got to the point where we couldn't get good shots, and tried to make from 6 foot.”
Golden Plains (21-3) matched the ineffectiveness as the squads combined to make three of their first 16 shots. The Bulldogs, with one more make, owned a 4-3 advantage after one quarter.
“That set the tone,” Bulldog coach Parker Christensen said. “It was going to be a tough-shooting night.”
Norwich (24-1) took its first lead on a pair of free throws from senior Mackenzie Klaver to start the second quarter. The foul line was the only place either team found success in the first 10 minutes with a combined five makes. A 13-4 run, though, to end the second quarter helped Golden Plains to a 19-11 advantage at intermission. After the rough start, the Bulldogs upped their percentage to 44.4 by the break. Norwich made just 17 percent of its shots, but kept it close.
“Defensively, I thought we did a nice job,” coach Klaver said. “They only scored 19 points. Defensively, we're solid. We just didn't shoot real well.”
The Eagles' defense kept them in it in the third, and Norwich made just enough shots to keep it close. By the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the tempo started to pick up, and the Eagles started hitting shots, benefiting from six fourth-quarter Bulldog turnovers. The run started with the first of two fourth-quarter 3s by Eagle senior Haley Rust. That made it 24-19, and the Eagles outscored the Bulldogs 6-1 to tie the game.
“We had a few foolish turnovers, and they made just enough to get it done,” Christensen said.
Norwich tied the game at 25 on a Klaver runner in the lane. She was fouled and converted with 5:06 to play, Golden Plains took the lead back. Rust's second 3-pointer, though, gave Norwich back the momentum, and the Eagles never trailed again.
“There's nothing like hitting a shot to pick up your defense,” coach Klaver said.
Norwich took a 30-28 lead on a pair of free throws from junior Haley Poe, then iced the game with both ends of a one-and-one from senior Hayley Pojansek with :06 left.
Klaver scored her season-average 13 points, the only player in double figures, but had to work for every bucket.
“We just had to hang around her, know where she was at,” Christensen said. “Just make her work for everything she was going to get.”
Senior point guard Angela Ritter led Golden Plains with eight points.
Norwich will face an Ingalls team that defeated Wilson, 53-42, in Friday's other semifinal. Ingalls, which starts three freshmen, was led by 22 points from freshman Kaisha Batman. It is Ingalls first trip to a state title game since 1984.
“They're tough,” Klaver said. “They're physical and play good defense. We'll put a game plan together (Saturday), but for right now, we'll enjoy the win.”
Fowler boys 75, Wallace County 63
Sharon Springs-Wallace County coach Larry O'Connor knew his team would have a difficult time defending Fowler 6-foot-4 senior forward Jett Reese.
He even changed up his defensive game plan just a bit. Normally, an up-and-down the floor, in-your-face defense, Wallace County came out in a zone.
Fowler's outside shooters got hot early, and made the Wildcats pay in a 75-60 Fowler victory in Friday's semifinal of the Class 1A
Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“They're the No. 1 team in the state for a reason,” O'Connor said of Fowler, which advanced to Saturday's 6:15 p.m. state championship game. “I thought we battled, we had shots to get back into this game, and they would hit a big 3.”
Probably none bigger than the barrage of treys the Goldbugs hit in the first half.
Fowler, led by junior guards Taylin Bird and Tem Shetley had four first-quarter bombs, and jumped out to a 22-8 lead. O'Connor switched his Wildcats out of the zone.
“They come out and hit four 3s in a row. We couldn't stay in that,” he said. “We did what we could do. We just ran into a good ball club.”
The Goldbugs cooled off a bit later, but still managed to hit 10 3s in the game, and finish 49.1 percent from the field for the night.
“They were making some tough shots,” O'Connor said. “We knew they would hit some, but we thought maybe they'd be a little tired.”
Wallace County, which had made a habit this season of running teams to the point they lose their legs, got its offense going in the second quarter.
But, facing one-on-one coverage, Reese took over the game for Fowler.
He scored eight second-quarter points to maintain the lead, and Fowler led 40-25 at the break.
“When they had to, they got into the big guy,” O'Connor said. “He's tough — a tough matchup for us anyway.
“He's a lot bigger, a good senior and he knows what he's doing.”
Reese finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Bird had 16 and Shetley 14.
Wallace County senior Eli Kuhlman, who had 27 points in Thursday's first-round win against Colony-Crest, was in foul trouble early.
He still managed 16 points as Wallace County put together a better second half. Junior Cayden Daily finished with 12.
Wallace County is set to face White City (20-4) in Saturday's 2 p.m. third-place game. Fowler takes on upset-minded Axtell (18-8), a seven seed with back-to-back wins against Hutchinson-Central Christian and White City, 56-29, in Friday's other semifinal.
Norwich 32, Golden Plains 29
GOLDEN PLAINS (21-3)
Ritter 3-6 2-2 8, Spresser 2-8 2-4 6, Miler 1-3 0-2 2, Joens 2-7 2-4 6, Christensen 2-5 0-0 5, Ramriez 1-1 0-0 2, Lobato 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 11-31 6-12 29.
Mackenzie Klaver 5-14 3-3 13, Rust 2-11 0-0 6, Poe 1-6 3-4 5, Poljansek 0-7 4-6 4, M. Stephens 2-4 0-0 4, J. Stephens 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 10-43 10-13 32.
Golden Plains 4 15 4 6 — 29
Norwich 3 8 5 16 — 32
3-point goals — Golden Plains 1-2 (Christensen 1-2); Norwich 2-6 (Rust 2-6). Total fouls — Golden Plains 10, Norwich 12. Fouled out — none.
Rebounds — Golden Plains 24 (Jones 6, Christensen 6); Norwich 25 (Klaver 7). Turnovers — Golden Plains 19, Norwich 9.
Fowler 75, Wallace County 63
SHARON SPRINGS-WALLACE COUNTY (19-6)
Cayden Daily 6-15 0-0 12, Eli Kuhlman 7-17 1-2 16, C. Schemm 2-2 1-2 5, Mote 3-8 1-4 7, Klinge 2-2 0-0 5, Gfeller 1-2 0-0 2, L. Schemm 3-4 2-2 8, Montes 1-2 0-0 3, Grund 2-3 1-2 5. Totals — 27-55 6-12 63.
Jett Reese 10-16 4-4 24, Ty Clark 4-7 5-6 13, Tem Shetley 5-11 0-1 14, Taylin Bird 5-13 2-2 16, Milford 2-4 0-0 5, Shumard 1-3 0-0 3, Duesing 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 27-55 11-13 75.
Wallace County 8 17 19 19 — 63
Fowler 22 18 13 22 — 75
3-point goals — Wallace County 3-11 (Daily 0-1, Mote 0-1, Klinge 1-1, Kuhman 1-6, Montes 1-2); Fowler 10-28 (Milford 1-3, Bird 4-12, Shetly 4-10, Shumard 1-3). Total fouls — Wallace County 18, Fowler 13. Fouled out — Grund, Wallace County.
Rebounds — Wallace County 23, Fowler 32. Turnovers — Wallace County 18, Fowler 12.