Tiger women coast to 10th win
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Fort Hays State University women's basketball team comfortably led South Dakota School of Mines by 15 at halftime Saturday. The Hardrockers, though, had shot 45 percent and took advantage of some defensive breakdowns. Since holiday break, Tiger coach Tony Hobson believed FHSU spent about 15 minutes on the team's trademark press.
"Give them some credit, I thought they attacked our pressure very well the first half," Hobson said. "We got caught on our heels a few times and gave them some easy transition baskets."
At halftime, Fort Hays made a couple of minor adjustments in the press, especially when Mines inbounded the ball. The Tigers overwhelmed SDM and eventually rolled to another dominating victory, 96-58, at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Fort Hays, ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division II and the top statistical team nationally in scoring defense and scoring margin, continued the best start in school annals and improved to 10-0.
"While we didn't get that many traps and take it from them, it just wore them out," Hobson said. "We were getting second and third passes in the half court. It wears on you. It's like the water torcher. It's just a drip-drip type of thing, and when we have so many kids that can play, it just kind of wears you down."
The Hardrockers shot 27 percent after intermission and committed 12 second-half turnovers, three more than the first half. Mines, playing its first game since Dec. 9, dropped to 9-4. A provisional Division II school, SDM has started a 10-day road trip that will stretch through five states and cover approximately 4,048 miles.
"As the game wore on, we became a little more efficient," Hobson said.
Fort Hays, known for its depth and strong team chemistry, had 10 players log at least 12 minutes. Junior Katelyn Edwards tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds, both game-highs, as four players scored in double figures. Senior guard Katie Strandholm led Mines with 13 points. Fort Hays never trailed.
"One big clique," Sorenson said of this year's success. "We are together and last year it was the same way, but versus the first two years I was here, it was almost sometimes players versus coach ... and this year and last year, we are the same team and we are after the same goal."
Sorenson continued her return from a series of illnesses that started last year. She played 17 minutes and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting with three rebounds and two assists.
In the last contest against Oklahoma Panhandle State University on Dec. 15, Sorenson finished with 18 minutes, nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and six rebounds.
"I feel a lot healthier," Sorenson said. "I have a lot more air in my lungs and a little more confidence, too, probably."
Before then, Sorenson had tallied just 48 minutes with 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting with 10 rebounds this season.
"I have never been sick in my life, seriously no joke, and it's been like one thing after another, and I feel bad because I have not been able to produce and be the player that I want to be for my team really," she said.
Sorenson developed mononucleosis last year, missed the last part of the season and then returned for the conference tournament. Sorenson thought she was healthy, but after a little break, she met with a doctor.
"My levels were up again," she said. "I didn't do anything, absolutely nothing, April until about mid-July and I started lifting and then back the end of August, I was conditioning and preseason was sluggish."
Sorenson didn't feel fully healthy until about a week or two before Panhandle. On Saturday, she was the Tigers' first sub off the bench and helped the Tigers take a 29-19 lead with 7 minutes, 30 seconds remaining before intermission.
Sorenson found junior Tera Ingalsbe inside for a score and hit a jumper midway through the first half. As well, freshman point guard Beth Bohuslavsky finished with nine points and six assists, both career-highs, and no turnovers.
Several of her passes led to wide-open layups. Bohuslavsky took several hard fouls/collisions and wore ice packs on her knee and hip after the game.
"I liked what I saw out of Beth," Hobson said. "She took care of the ball. She had six assists, but four of them were direct pass-layup and in the open floor. She is a good player. In a game like this, it got a little rough, but she is a tough kid."
During halftime, the Tigers changed their initial alignment on the Hardrockers' inbounds plays. FHSU had two players back, but they sometimes ended up on the same side. Instead of having them play man-to-man defense, Hobson just gave them a side of the floor to guard. Fort Hays quickly opened the margin after the break and scored at least 90 points for the third time this season.
"Then, there is less confusion," Hobson said. "We got a mismatch sometimes, but it doesn't really hurt us."
Hobson confirmed freshman Rachel Jacobs, an all-state player from Thomas More Prep-Marian, is no longer with the team. Jacobs decided to not play basketball anymore. FHSU will travel to MIAA newcomer Northeastern (Okla.) State University on Thursday.