By KEVIN THOMPSON

sports@gctelegram.com

ULYSSES The Tigers were hoping to play bad hosts Friday night, which meant they would pull off the upset of 4A basketball this season.

Their task knock off undefeated and top-ranked Pratt in the sub-state semifinals.

The Greenbacks had other ideas, however, as they took off at the opening tip, built a 16-point first-quarter lead, and cruised to a 56-26 win over Ulysses in a game with the fourth-quarter running clock mercy rule.

Consider the dominating numbers for the Greenbacks and it's easy to see why they are now 22-0: 68 percent from the floor (19-of-28), 9-of-12 from 3-point land, and a defense that frustrated the Tigers all night long.

The Tigers had won six straight games until this point and they knew the odds were against them. Still, coach Jason Jones thought they'd have to start strong and fast if they were to have a chance.

As it was, the Tigers shot just 5-of-25 in the first half (20 percent) and grabbed just seven boards as the Greenbacks had them playing a half-court offense literally from half court.

Micah Swank was the offensive power for Pratt, hitting all four of his first-quarter shots (all threes) for 13 points. Coupled with BJ Dean's eight points, the Tigers had their hands full.

A 6-1 senior, Swank alone had 19 points in the first half as Ulysses had trouble putting up good shots, let alone make many.

The Swank-Dean tandem hit seven threes in the opening half (nine total) to further deflate the Tigers' confidence, quiet the partisan crowd and earn the respect of coach Jones.

"You're not 22-0 at any level I don't care if it's junior high or college you're doing something right," he said. "They're going to be a load for whoever they face."

Pratt's prowess beyond the arc complicated things for Ulysses' defense, Jones said, as did their zone defense, which fluctuated between tight close and tight spread.

"They just spread you out. You kind of have to pick your poison with them. When they're making shots, they're going to beat you," he said.

As for that fast start Jones was hoping to see from his team?

"Swank kind of took that away from us," he admitted. "He's hitting shots and you can't defend him I think he was bound and determined to show us early what kind of game it was going to be."

Swank led all scorers with 25 points and Dean had 13, while Ulysses' high scorer was Garrett Kissell with just seven points.

The Tigers were forced to shoot threes to try to catch up, but they were just 3-for-20 in that department.

"Against a team like this, you've got to score because they're going to score," Jones said. It just didn't turn out that way for Ulysses.

For Pratt coach David Swank, Ulysses was not a typical four-seed, and getting out to the fast start was crucial for the Greenbacks.

"Ulysses is a very good team, especially on their home floor," he said. "They're well coached and play very hard. The key tonight was to start fast in the first quarter and take the crowd out of the game."

Winning the rebounding battle (24-16) was also essential in hampering the Tigers, David Swank said.

"But all the guys gave us a great effort tonight," he said. "That's what you need at this time of year."

The last time Pratt went undefeated into the state tournament was in 1954, when it went 24-0 before losing in the finals.

They hope to improve on that, but first they have to get past a tough Andale team, 52-40 winners over Cheney.

"Andale will probably play their physical man-to-man. They're long; they're tough, they go nine deep," Swank said. "We're going to do our thing and play for a championship."

Pratt's hot shooting, Ulysses' cold (11-of-48) shooting, too many turnovers and a tough Greenbacks squad spoiled the final game for the Tigers' nine seniors.

"I feel privileged to have coached them," Jones said. "They're a great group of kids. They've worked really hard for us."

Ulysses ends the season 14-8.

------

Pratt 23 12 11 10 -- 56

Ulysses 7 5 8 6 -- 26

Pratt (56) Smith 0 0-1 0, S. Dean 2 0-0 4, BJ Dean 5 0-0 13, Mayberry 1 1-2 3, Swank 7 5-6 25, Besser 1 1-2 3, Kahmeyer 1 1-1 3, Mayhew 2 1-2 5. Totals 19 9-13 56.

Ulysses (26) Galindo 1 0-0 3, Newell 2 0-0 5, Langston 2 0-0 4, J. Mendoza 1 0-0 2, Kissell 3 1-1 7, Zerr 2 0-0 5. Totals 11 1-1 26.

3-point goals Pratt 9-12 (BJ Dean 3, Swank 6), Ulysses 3-20 (Galindo 1, Newell 1, Zerr 1). Rebounds Pratt 24 (Mayhew 5), Ulysses 16 (Kissell 6). Turnovers Pratt 16, Ulysses 12. Fouled out none. Total fouls Pratt 9, Ulysses 17.

Andale 52,

Cheney 40

In the first semifinal game, the Indians of Andale held off a fourth-quarter charge by Cheney to defeat the Cardinals 52-40.

Andale held a 35-24 lead after three quarters, but Cheney cut the lead down to just seven points with 1:41 remaining. That was as close as they would get, though, as they were forced to stop the clock and send the Indians to the foul line.

Leading Andale in scoring was 6-6 senior Andrew Bergkamp with 10 points. Nine Indians got in the score book to lead a balanced offensive attack.

Cheney (15-8) was led by 6-3 senior Gage Scheer with 14 points.

Andale (19-3) will face undefeated and top-seeded Pratt in Saturday's fiinals.

------

Cheney 8 8 8 16 -- 40

Andale 11 8 16 17 -- 52

Cheney (40) Miles 1 0-0 3, Scheer 5 3-4 14, Harbour-Nordahl 2 0-0 4, Needham 2 4-4 10, Keifer 0 1-2 1, Schomacker 2 4-4 8. Totals 12 12-14 40.

Andale (52) Knoblauch 2 2-2 6, Seiler 1 0-0 2, Kihle 2 1-4 5, Meierhoff 3 0-0 8, Bergkamp 4 2-4 10, Mobley 3 0-0 7, Carney 2 2-2 6, Bogner 2 2-2 6, Deaver 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 9-14 52.

3-point goals Cheney 4 (Miels 1, Scheer 1, Needham 2), Andale 3 (Meieroff 2, Mobley 1).