EMPORIA – Earlier this week, Hoxie High School girls' basketball coach Shelly Hoyt said multiple opponents have played their best game of the season against the top-ranked Indians.

“It kind of gets frustrating to hear that over and over and over, ‘Oh yeah, we haven’t played that well all year,’ ” Hoyt said. “'It happened to be our game.' ”

Hoyt expected the same trend at the Class 1A Division I state tournament at Emporia State University’s White Auditorium. On Thursday, Hoxie didn’t play its best and Spearville delivered one of its stronger performances. Hoxie had a close game until late in the third quarter and eventually pulled away in a 60-39 win. The Indians set a season-low for points.

Hoxie tallied 63 in a 27-point sub-state championship victory against Thunder Ridge and had 64 points four times this season. The Indians’ average margin of victory was 41 points entering Thursday. In addition, Hoxie had tallied 81 and 71 points in first round state victories the last two years.

“We didn’t have a lot of intensity,” Hoyt said. “Maybe that’s my fault, maybe not preparing them well enough.”

No. 1 seed Hoxie won its 70th straight contest and improved to 24-0, while No. 8 seeded Spearville ended its season at 13-10. The Indians are looking to become the first area team to win three straight championships — and complete back-to-back undefeated seasons.

“I don’t think our girls were intimidated,” Spearville coach Lorie Stein said. “They believed they could win the game, and I think our defense was tough. We played our defense to our strengths, which was not man-to-man.”

Hoxie is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Osborne (20-3) in the semifinals in a 6:30 p.m. start Friday.

“This is going to be the toughest year yet,” Hoyt said. “Because everybody gives us their best. Everybody. It doesn’t matter who it is. They can look like a good team on tape. But when they get to us, they become a great team.

"That’s just the part of being good – so you either deal with it, or you go home,” she added. “Thank goodness we dealt with it tonight, because they brought it. We are going to expect the same thing.”

Outside of 2-0, Hoxie never trailed, but Spearville stayed within striking distance.

“We know they are all out to get us,” said Hoxie junior Lexi Schamberger, who finished with 15 points. “We are the team to beat.”

The Indians led 17-9 after the first quarter. Hoxie made four treys in the first eight minutes, two from sophomore Terran Hoyt and two by junior Carly Heim, who led Hoxie with 17 points. Hoyt has hit 60 treys this season.

“Those were big shots,” Schamberger said. “They got us going, started our team off.”

The Indians led 32-19 at halftime before Spearville closed it to 37-27 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

“I don’t know if it was our best game of the year, but it was probably up there in the top three or four games," Stein said of her team’s performance.

The Lancers held a plus-3 margin on the glass, and junior Rachel Slattery finished with a team-high 14 points. Hoxie shot 40 percent from the field, Spearville 30 percent.

“I told them before the game, this is going to be ‘Who is tougher?,” Stein said. “Who is going to win the game is the tougher team mentally and physically. I think physically as far as the boards, we took care of business there. We don’t have the pure shooting that they have, and the experience that they have. They play year round and have that on-the-court chemistry.”

Hoxie wore down Spearville late and had a 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

“We didn’t have people in position to rebound or any ball movement,” Hoyt said.  “We were kind of wearing ourselves out, which was not very smart basketball. When we got to running and playing our game, they looked pretty good.”

Hoxie 60, Spearville 39

Spearville (13-10)

Schuette 0-4 1-2 1, Heskamp 1-10 0-0 2, Rachel Slattery 7-9 0-2 14, Marisa Kistler 3-8 1-2 10, Doussa 0-1 1-2 1, Ratzlaff 0-0 0-1 0, Craft 1-4 0-0 3, Hornung-Heeke 0-2 0-0 0, C. Offerle 2-9 2-2 6, B. Offerle 1-2 0-0 2, Krominga 0-0 0-0 0, Gleason 0-1 0-0 0. Totals – 15-50 5-11 39.

Hoxie (24-0)

Spresser 3-7 0-0 7, Hoyt 2-7 0-0 6, Carly Heim 6-9 2-2 17, Farber 3-13 1-2 7, Lexi Schamberger 5-11 5-8 15, Niblock 0-2 2-3 2, Heim 0-0 0-0 0, Carter 0-1 0-0 0, Allmer 2-3 2-3 6, Washington 0-0 0-0 0, Geerdes 0-0 0-0. Totals – 21-53 13-19 60.

Spearville 9 10 8 12 – 39

Hoxie 17 15 13 15 – 60

3-point goals – Spearville 4-13 (Schuette 0-2, Heskamp 0-4, Kistler 3-5, Craft 1-2); Hoxie 5-14 (Spresser 1-5, Hoyt 2-6, Heim 2-3). Technical fouls – none. Fouled out – none.

Rebounds – Spearville 38 (Kistler 9); Hoxie 35 (Farber 10). Turnovers – Spearville 27, Hoxie 17.