Wednesday night’s non-conference matchup against Tabor College at Gross Memorial Coliseum meant little in the big picture for the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team.
It was highly unlikely the visiting NAIA Bluejays, while sporting a solid record, were going to do much in the way of pulling off an upset over the Tigers.
It wasn’t until after the game where unknowing fans got a glimpse of what the 90-44 blowout actually meant.
After the final buzzer, the Tigers gathered with 10th-year head coach Tony Hobson and presented the longtime skipper with three numbers — 6-0-0 — each of them decorated with pictures and headlines spanning his 30-plus year coaching career. The three numbers, of course, represented Hobson’s career victories after the “W” on Wednesday.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had,” Tiger senior Emma Stroyan said. “For him to get that milestone in his career is really good. Just glad I could be a part of it.”
Hobson’s career spans through four head coaching positions. He started at Cloud County Community College, then Barton County Community College before taking over at Hastings College in Nebraska. Then 10 years ago, he took the job at FHSU and now sits 187-87 during his career in Hays.
Hobson took the time afterward to thank all of his assistant coaches through the years, and of course, the players who have put in the time and effort.
“You have to do this for a long time, and you have to have a lot of good kids,” the coach said. “Lot of miles covered. Lot of places we’ve went and played. There are so many people that are involved in that.”
On Wednesday, Stroyan was a big reason why No. 600 for Hobson never was in doubt. The senior fueled the Tigers’ 17-0 run out of the gate, then later a 23-0 run as the Tigers rolled to a 31-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and a 52-14 lead by halftime.
“These games are kind of trappy sometimes,” Hobson said. “I thought our kids came out and did what they needed to do. It never got sloppy.”
Stroyan scored 18 of her game-high 20 by intermission, including all but two of the Tigers’ first 14 points. She said despite the fact FHSU is in the middle of finals this week, the Tigers were focused on the task at hand, even against an NAIA opponent.
FHSU was coming off back-to-back MIAA losses on the road, both coming by three points to Washburn and Emporia State.
“It’s kind of hard. You sit all day in class taking finals, then you have to make that mind shift back to the basketball sense and just go with it,” Stroyan said. “I think we did that tonight.”
The Tigers got contributions from everyone in the win. Kacey Kennett had 13 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and Lindsay Shupe — a sophomore guard from Minneapolis — poured in a career-best 12, hitting 5 of 7 shots. As a team, the Tigers hit 56 percent from the floor, were 8 of 16 from 3-point land and were 10-of-13 from the free throw line.
The Tigers will be in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday to face 6-3 Rockhurst University in a 2 p.m. contest.