By BRETT MARSHALL
HUTCHINSON — Prior to Thursday's Class 3A quarterfinal opening game, Holcomb coach Kelley Snodgrass and Burlington coach Doug Stewart said that their respective teams were similar in playing styles and size.
That was, in their own words, the match-up issues facing each coach as they sent their teams out to see who would advance to today's 3 p.m. semifinal at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Burlington, the No. 2 seed, utilized its size and length, however, to dominate the third quarter that propelled the Lady Wildcats to a 62-47 victory over the Lady Longhorns and advance to the semis against Hillsboro, a 48-39 winner over Caney Valley in the afternoon's second quarterfinal.
Despite giving up 15 free throw attempts in the first half, the Lady Longhorns were down just four points, 25-21, at the break. It was 14-all at the end of the first period.
"We knew we couldn't get into foul trouble or it would limit the things defensively we wanted to do," said Holcomb's Snodgrass. "They (Burlington) hit some big shots and made a bunch of free throws, yet we were still right there."
With junior guard Kyshia Prieto on the bench with three fouls and three other players saddled with two infractions, the Lady Longhorns came back out for the second half with expectations of overtaking the Wildcats.
It didn't happen.
Three minutes into the third quarter, Holcomb was still within three points, 32-29, but then the roof, or in this case, the press caved in.
Burlington used its length to throw long lob passes over the Holcomb press and turned those into easy layups. Over the next three minutes, it produced a 17-5 run that drained the life from the Longhorns. It was 51-36 at the end of the quarter.
The largest lead in the fourth was 20, 59-39, and only an 8-3 finish closed the deficit to the final 15 points.
"I thought when Prieto got her third foul it took away their defensive quarterback," said Burlington's Stewart. "We were able to throw it out there and got some of them to land in the right place and got some easy baskets. Their quickness really bothered us at times."
Snodgrass, though, lamented her team's struggles with the Burlington length on defense.
"Usually we can take advantage of the other team, but in this case Burlington's length and their physical play took us out of things we like to do," Snodgrass said. "When we were aggressive and ran our press break and were able to finish, I thought we were competing pretty well."
Burlington's balanced scoring also presented issues for Holcomb's defense. Breanna Bluma had a game-high 15 points for the Wildcats while Jackie O'Connor and Madison Stewart followed with 13 points apiece.
"They're a good team, they've only lost once," Snodgrass said. "We fought all the way to the end and I'm proud of the effort we gave.
"You don't like the bitter taste this leaves, but we'll get back and work in the summer and get ready to try and come back here next year."
For the Lady Longhorns, who finish 17-7, junior Karissa Pena led the way with 13 points and seven rebounds. Prieto added 10 points to finish as the only other double-figure scorer for the Lady Longhorns.
Turnovers plagued both teams, Holcomb guilty of 22 miscues to 21 for Burlington.
"I thought we did a good job of switching on screens to keep their shooters from getting good looks," Stewart said. "We knew they didn't do much in the way of posting up, so it allowed us to focus on their dribble-drive penetration."
The Lady Longhorns trailed throughout the first quarter, but managed to knot the score at 14 when Prieto canned the first of her 3-point shots with 1:21 to go in the opener.
It was a whistle-affair in the second period as Holcomb found itself in its ever-growing foul problems. Prieto got her third foul with 1:28 before halftime while Pfeifer, Heydman, Madison Taylor and Taylor Deniston all had two each.
Except for that critical third quarter stretch, the Lady Longhorns battled on near-even terms. But they never led in the game.
Holcomb 14 7 15 11 -- 47
Burlington 14 11 26 11 -- 62
Holcomb (17-7) — Pfeifer 3-9 2-2 8, Prieto 3-6 2-3 10, Heydman 3-6 0-0 7, Taylor 0-1 1-2 1, Deniston 2-4 2-3 6, Amos 1-3 0-3 2, Pena 6-10 1-4 13, Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-3 8-17 47.
Burlington (23-1) — Gilman 1-2 0-0 2, Bluma 7-14 1-5 15, Ledom 1-2 0-0 2, Trimble 2-4 2-2 6, Stadel 0-1 2-2 2, Pearson 2-8 2-4 7, Burns 1-1 0-0 2, O'Connor 4-7 5-9 13, Stewart 5-9 2-2 13. Totals 23-48 14-24 62.
3-point goals--Holcomb 3-11 (Pfeifer 0-3, Prieto 2-3, Heydman 1-3, Amos 0-2), Burlington 2-5 (Bluma 0-1, Pearson 1-3, Stewart 1-1). Rebounds--Burlington 33 (Stewart 8), Holcomb 26 (Pena 7). Fouls--Holcomb 21, Burlington 18. Fouled out--none. Assists--Holcomb 6 (Prieto, Pena 2 each), Burlington 14 (O'Connor 4). Turnovers--Holcomb 22, Burlington 21. Blocked shot--Holcomb 3 (Pena 2), Burlington 4 (Gilman 2). Steals--Holcomb 12 (Prieto, Heydman, Pena 3 each), Burlington 8 (Bluma 4).