By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Holcomb High School's Kelley Snodgrass knows all too well what it's like to play in the Class 3A state tournament at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
She was a starter and member of the Cimarron Lady Bluejays' 1998 state championship team when she was Kelley Kramer.
Fourteen years later, she will be returning, this time as the head coach of the Lady Longhorns.
That accomplishment was sealed with a torrential rain of 3-pointers by her team here Saturday night as they roared past Cimarron, 70-46, thus earning their first trip to the state tourney since 2005.
Not many teams could survive the 3-point barrage by the Lady Longhorns, nine in all and seven of those in the first half, when they opened up a commanding 40-27 lead.
"The game's a lot easier when you're making the 3-pointers," Snodgrass said of her team, which drained 9-of-18 treys, including 7-of-14 in the critical first half surge. "I thought in the second quarter we played great team ball, played tough defense, but the big key was hitting the 3's. We had an early drought, but we found our rhythm."
For the Lady Bluejays, it was a disappointing ending.
"We got off to a good start (5-0 lead less than two minutes into the game), but then they hit a lot of shots and we didn't do a good job of getting out and guarding them," said Cimarron coach David Ediger.
Junior guard Katie Pfeifer was the ringleader of the long-range attack. The 5-5 Pfeifer knocked down a pair of treys in both the first and second quarters while Kyshia Prieto, Haley Heydman and Kylee Amos contributed one each.
Pfeifer would finish with a game-high 20 points on 5-of-9 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws while Heydman and Prieto followed closely with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
"We are a diverse team, and when we're playing well, it's hard to guard us," Prieto said.
Prieto, despite her 5-5 height, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as the teams battled to a 28-28 standoff on the boards. Breanna Bryant grabbed six to pace Cimarron.
Cimarron (20-3) got 15 points from freshman Morgan Ediger on 5-of-8 field goals and 3-of-5 free throws. Sophomore Ashtynn Burns also reached double figures with 10 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 at the charity stripe.
Snodgrass said it was the pace of the game early that set everything up for her speedy Longhorns.
"We're good when we can get up and down the floor," Snodgrass said.
After building a 40-27 halftime lead, Holcomb had to withstand one final rally by the Lady Bluejays.
After leading 45-30 with 5:43 to go in the third, Cimarron went on a 9-2 run to trim its deficit to 47-40 with just 1:10 remaining when Ediger scored on a driving layup and added a free throw.
But with nine seconds to go in the period, Prieto slashed her way to the basket and scored, putting Holcomb up by nine, 49-40.
Cimarron would never get any closer.
"We got back in it, but then we couldn't make the shots we needed, and we spent so much energy we couldn't get over the hump," Ediger said of the early fourth quarter.
The first half couldn't have been scripted any better for the Lady Longhorns.
Pfeifer was the instigator, knocking down a pair of treys in the first quarter to propel the Lady Longhorns to a 14-11 lead at the end of the period.
It was then when the team gunners got into the action. Prieto, Heydman and Amos all nailed 3-pointers along with two more bombs from Pfeifer. The Longhorns gradually built their lead, going from 21-15 to 40-27 by the half.
They did it with pinpoint accuracy from everywhere — 6-of-11 field goals inside the arc, 7-of-14 from outside the 3-point line, and to top it off, 7-of-10 free throws. Only a 14-of-16 free throw effort by Cimarron kept the lead from being bigger.