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Liberal advances to Final Four with 62-29 blowout of St. James PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 March 2018 00:05


Katie Horyna pulls up for a jump shot at the State Tournament in Topeka Thursday against St. James Academy. Horyna scored 12 points in a 62-29 win L&T photo/Earl Watt


• Leader & Times

TOPEKA — The Lady Redskins never applied a full court press the entire game, but their defense was too much for St. James Academy in the first round of the Class 5A State Tournament. The Lady Redskins held the Lady Thunder to only 10 made baskets in the game, and the Lady Redskins cruised to the Final Four with a 62-29 win.

Liberal didn’t allow a single point in the first quarter, and drives to the basket allowed the Lady Redskins to build a 12-0 lead.

But the Lady Thunder opened the second quarter with back-to-back threes, and Liberal’s lead was cut in half.

St. James would add another three in the quarter, but the hot-shooting Lady Redskins continued to roll on offense including a pair of threes from Whitney Hay and another form Audrey Gilmore, and the Lady Redskins took a 27-9 lead at half.

The Lady Thunder increased intensity in the second half, but the added pressure also led to more fouls, and before the third quarter was over, Liberal was already in the bonus.

The drives by the Lady Redskins forced the Lady Thunder to the free throw line 26 times in the second half, and the Lady Redskins scored 20 of 30 free throw attempts in the game.

Katie Horyna continued to drive to the basket in the second half, and Mullens also got rolling, scoring seven of her 11 points after halftime.

Liberal shot a blistering 53 percent, and they cruised to the 62-29 win.

Horyna led the Lady Redskins with 12 points, and Mullens had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Lucero and Hay also scored 11 points each, putting for Lady Redskins in double digits.

“I thought our kids came out with a lot of energy and fire,” Liberal coach Carter Kruger said. “It was a long day sitting around and letting that tension build up, but it turned into confidence for our kids. I’m just real proud of our effort, and we want to keep building on it.”

The goal was to keep St. James out of the paint, and the Lady Redskins did that. Of the 29 points scored by the Lady Thunder, only six of those points came from shots in the lane.

“We didn’t let them get into the paint,” Kruger said. “When they get it inside, they are dangerous. Our game plan was not to let them drive.”

Kruger said that the Lady Redskins were taking the right shots, and making them.

“We did a nice job, we got really good shots, we penetrated, got to the rim,” he said. “I’m proud of our kids and the effort. We need to keep going now.”

From the beginning of the year, Kruger’s coaching staff had a goal to play until the final day of basketball season at the state tournament, and with Thursday’s win, that is now a guarantee.

“Our goal at our very first coaches meeting was to spend this weekend up here and now we’ve done that,” Kruger said. “Now let’s see what we can do.”

From the beginning, the crowd was decidedly a pro-Liberal crowd despite the six-hour drive from Liberal to Topeka.

“The Big House has moved up here,” Kruger said. “It was a big boost for us when they announced our school, the whole place erupted. It sent a chill down my spine. It gave some confidence to our kids. We felt like we were at home and played with that comfort level.”

Liberal will play Bishop Carroll in the semi-finals at 6 p.m. Friday. The winner will play for the state championship Saturday.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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