Edwards leads Tiger women to win
By CONOR NICHOLL
Senior forward Katelyn Edwards collected second team and third team all-MIAA honors in her first two seasons with the Fort Hays State University women's basketball team. Edwards, known for athleticism, physical play and inside game, collected 13.8 points and 8.1 rebounds during the two seasons. However, Edwards shot just 46 percent from the field, 64 percent from the free throw line and 22 percent (10 of 45) from 3-point range.
Shortly after last season, the right-handed shooting Edwards talked with coach Tony Hobson.
"I think I said, 'I can make more than you left-handed,'" Hobson said. "She said, 'I think I can, too, and I said, 'Well, maybe you should try it.' She had messed around with it a little before. It was more her idea than mine."
Virtually all offseason, Edwards worked on shooting left-handed. Through three contests, Edwards shoots all of her free throws and outside shots left-handed. The move helped her enjoy another big game in a 78-38 win against NAIA Bethel College on Tuesday night at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"I had a moment at the beginning of the season where I was kind of unsure about it, and almost went back to my right, but decided to just trust it," she said.
Edwards finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven steals and three assists, all game-highs to help Fort Hays, receiving votes in the NCAA Division II national poll, move to 3-0. The seven steals set a career-high.
"We played very sluggish, I didn't think we executed very well," Hobson said. "Defensively, we just weren't very sharp, but I can't really say that about Kate, because she tied them up five times on jump balls. Just a good all-around game, she played really hard. I am really happy with the way that Kate is playing right now."
Edwards, who has always driven to the basket strongly with her left hand, continued to shoot well with her left-hand during the offseason. Hobson said Edwards made 96 of 100 free throws left-handed at one point.
"I have always liked driving to my left better," Edwards said. "It's kind of strange that I shoot comfortably with my left hand, too. I feel way more comfortable now shooting with my left hand than I do my right."
Edwards finished 5 of 9 from the field and 6 of 9 from the free-throw line.
"When we first got back, the first week, we were scrimmaging and I saw she was shooting left-handed," sophomore Taylor Chandler said. "I was a little confused, but then they told me that they switched her over. It seems to work."
For the season, Edwards is 18 of 30 (60 percent) from the field and 16 of 21 (76 percent) from the line. Overall, she averages a Tiger-best 17.3 points and 10.7 rebounds.
"I think she is going to shoot a higher percentage left-handed than she did right," Hobson said.
The Threshers, which counted the game as an exhibition, remained at 2-2. Bethel has defeated Oklahoma Wesleyan University, ranked eighth in NAIA. The Threshers took a 2-0 lead and FHSU led just 11-10 with 11 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half. However, Fort Hays finished the half on a 35-7 run and led 46-17 at the break.
"I thought they played great," Hobson said. "I thought they had a really good plan against any pressure that we had, and I thought their kids really hustled, and they sure had no quit in them at all. I think they are a nice little team."
At 2-2, Edwards made three straight plays, scored four points and gave FHSU the lead for good.
Bethel couldn't handle a pass, Edwards stole the ball and found sophomore Taylor Chandler for a layup for a 4-2 lead. She moved the lead to 5-2 when Edwards, on the right side, passed to sophomore guard Chelsea Mason at the top of the key.
Edwards ran in, grabbed Mason's rebound on the left side, was fouled and made a free throw.
"I try not to think about it being my last year, because I enjoy my time here so much and I don't want it to end, but at the same time, yeah, you get to that point where you know you only have so much time left," Edwards said. "You want to make the best of it."
Then, Edwards made a steal down low, dribbled the length of the court and missed the layup. Senior Tera Ingalsbe grabbed the rebound and eventually Edwards made 1 of 2 foul shots again. FHSU will play host to Newman University next Tuesday.
"One thing that you can always count on with Kate is that she is going to compete, and it doesn't matter whether she is playing up at Creighton or whether we are playing Bethel or whether we are playing Washburn," Hobson said.