By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY --In her first three seasons as the girls basketball coach at Holcomb High School, Kelley Snodgrass had been using the basketball court as a classroom.
Her first three teams likely came out with average to below average grades.
But now, in the early part of Snodgrass' fourth season, the Lady Longhorns have upped their grade and made it to the championship game Saturday of the Scott City Invitational. Holcomb passed the test by knocking off Scott City, 55-49, to claim the school's first girls title in the tournament.
"It's a tribute to the girls who played so hard and executed our offense so well," Snodgrass said. "Their basketball sense is coming along and by far it is the best we've played. They're seniors and juniors who know the system and it is now paying off."
As they have in most every game of the young season, the Longhorns started quickly. Scoring the first eight points of the game and owned a 12-4 lead after one quarter.
"With (Holcomb) getting out to a quick start, I think our girls were a little shell-shocked," first-year Scott City coach Mark Campos said. "They were saying, 'holy cow, they came to play.'"
Juniors Mallory Komlofske (5-of-6 free throws) and tourney Most Valuable Player Breanna Gottschalk (a 3-pointer) got Holcomb off to its quick beginning.
"We stress trying to win every quarter and when we make shots, we're going to play well," Snodgrass said. "We told the girls that (Scott City is) going to go on runs and we're going on runs. We just have to win that last run."
And that's exactly what happened.
When Scott City junior Carissa Chelemedos hit a free throw with 2:41 left in the game, the Lady Beavers were up 49-47. It would be Scott City's last points, though. Holcomb closed the final 2:21 by hitting 7-of-11 free throws. Gottschalk had five of those charities.
"Except for those three I missed, I tell myself I should be able to make free throws," Gottschalk, who finished third in the free throw contest earlier in the day. "When we work together, we're a good team. We had our runs, and just had one more than them."
Scott City put itself back in the game with a solid second quarter effort, and trailied at the half. The score switched back-and-forth in the third quarter before Holcomb used one of its runs to take a 38-31 lead, but then the Lady Beavers scored the final six points of the period to close to within one heading into the fourth quarter.
There were three lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter before the final 2:21.
The 3-point shooting was the defining stat as Holcomb hit 6-of-8 behind the arc, while Scott City missed all 15 shots from behind arc.
"We usually rely on the three to soften up the inside for our taller girls, but they just didn't fall in the game," Campos said. "We had good shots, they just didn't fall. We just struggled all night from the outside."
The Beavers (2-1) finished 21-of-51 (41 percent). The Lady Longhorns (4-0) hit an even 50 percent of their shots. On the rebounding side, Holcomb owned a narrow 36-31 advantage.
Gottschalk's 22 points were a game-high. Komlofske's 10-of-14 free throws were all the points she made and was the only other double-figure scorer for Holcomb. Chelemedos had a double-double for Scott City with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Justine Woofter and Amanda Shearmire contributed 10 points apiece.
"We've been a young team for a long time and now we're veterans," Gottschalk said. "We've grown up and we play so much better because we know how to do things for coach."
Tournament awards, events: Sarah Munds of the Wichita Defenders (116/125) captured the free throw contest while Lindsey Estes of Wichita County (9/25) won the 3-point event. The all-tournament girls team was comprised of Breanna Gottschalk and Amy Stegman, Holcomb; Carissa Chelemedos and Jade Glunz, Scott City; Lirona Rexhepi and Brianna McGuire, Wichita Sunrise; Kelli Crittenden, Greeley County; Hannah Mehl, Wichita County; Amy Dunn, Lakin; and Sarah Munds, Wichita Defenders. Amanda Shearmire of Scott City was voted the tourney's Most Inspirational Player and Holcomb's Breanna Gottschalk was named the Most Valuable Player.
See Scoreboard, Page B2, for other box scores.
Holcomb 55, Scott City 49
Holcomb (4-0) — Baier 0-0 0-0 0, Asmus 3-8 0-0 6, Gottschalk 6-7 6-10 22, Komlofske 0-2 10-14 10, Boyles 1-1 0-0 3, Landwehr 3-4 0-0 8, Stegman 3-8 1-4 7, Lohfink 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-32 17-28 55.
Scott City (2-1) — Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Hess 2-5 1-3 5, Glunz 4-9 1-3 9, Woofter 4-8 2-4 10, Shearmire 4-14 2-4 10, O'Neil 0-6 Baker 1-5 0-0 2, Chelemedos 6-14 1-3 13. Totals 21-51 7-17 49.
Holcomb 12 11 15 17 — 55
Scott City 4 16 17 12 — 49
3-point goals — Holcomb 6-8 (Gottschalk 4-5, Landwehr 2-3), Scott City 0-15 (Glunz 0-3, Shearmire 0-5, O'Neil 0-5, Baker 0-2). Total rebounds — Holcomb 36 (Gottschalk 6, Komlofske 6, Stegman 6), Scott City 31 (Chelemedos 11). Turnovers — Holcomb 22, Scott City 14. Total fouls — Holcomb 18, Scott City 22. Fouled out — Scott City (Woofter).