DODGE CITY — It should come as no surprise the Central Plains girls will be playing for their sixth straight state title.
They came out on top in their semifinal game, 78-36, against Thunder Ridge at the United Wireless Arena in Dodge City to reach Saturday’s championship game in Class 1A.
The Oilers, winners of five in a row in Class 2A, will face Hanover, which defeated Waverly in the first semifinal game.
Having played those previous titles in Manhattan, this will be another venue in which to claim the crown.
Emily Ryan dropped in 33 to lead the Oilers to a 27-0 record — and the team’s climbing state-record 110th consecutive win.
The Oilers started the game the way they have much of the season, causing turnovers and scoring in streaks.
The first six possessions, Thunder Ridge had six turnovers, finishing with 14 for the quarter—and by then trailed 31-9, with Ryan scoring 14.
“They share the ball so well,” Central Plains head coach Pat Stiles said of his team. “That’s amazing. That’s just how they are — they share the ball and have such a team-oriented culture about making the extra pass.”
The Oilers, who shot 13 for 21 in the opening period, finished the half converting 20-of-34 shots, while the defense caused 15 turnovers and held Thunder Ridge to just 6 for 21.
Ryan already had 27 points at half, and scoring six more in the third as many of the starters sat the rest of the game.
Central Plains was up 70-32 in the fourth before the rest of the starters sat, preparing for the team’s next game.
Nine Oilers got into the scorebook. Besides Ryan’s 33, they also got 9 from Addison Crites and 8 each from Rachel Lamatsch and Delaney Rugan.
It was a game of streaks for Central Plains. After starting the game 6-0, they went 18-2 in the first quarter, 9-3 in the second, and 9-0 to end the third.
Those streaks are part of an unselfish approach to scoring, said Stiles, who noted the 28 assists from his team, a number that got a “Holy cow!” from the veteran coach.
The style of play in this semifinal was the same as every other game, he added.
“Defensively, we really try to speed a team up and get them out of their game,” Stiles said. “We were able to do that early. That’s what we concentrate on, just playing good, solid defense. We can score, so we really concentrate on our defense.”
Rugan concurred with her coach about her team’s approach to this and every other game.
“We like to pressure the ball, make the extra pass,” she said. “We try to keep them from getting inside. If they get a three on us, oh well—next play.”
Thunder Ridge got 15 points from Jaden Boden. Her team shot just 10 for 40 from the floor.
It will face Waverly in the third-place game at noon.
Stiles noted that, though the venue has changed for this title attempt, the game plan is the same.
“It’s our next game. It’s our most important game,” he said. “Our kids will play hard. Hanover’s a great team and coached so well.
The girls championship game will begin at 4 p.m.