By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

PLAINS - Let there be no doubt, the Lady Mustangs of Southwestern Heights want to go back to Hutchinson in March and repeat as the Class 3A state basketball champions.

And the way they've started this season, they have every reason to expect that as a realistic possibility.

They finished off their pre-holiday schedule with a resounding 70-28 thumping of the outgunned Syracuse Lady Bulldogs on Friday night, and in the process moved to 5-0 for the season, while the struggling visitors drop to 3-2 for the year.

Both teams will now be idle until Jan. 5, when schools resume play after the break.

This game was settled early as the Lady Mustangs rattled off the first 22 points, 17 of them in the first quarter to simply put any question about the outcome away.

"We have great balance with the inside/outside game and we're fortunate to have some good shooters and ball handlers," Heights coach Barry Mellen said.

It was a 35-11 lead at halftime that ballooned to 55-22 after three quarters. Heights' biggest lead came at 68-23, midway through the fourth period.

Junior Deni Jacobs provided the offensive spark for the defending champs by pouring in a game-high 21 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

"We're really working as a team," Jacobs said. "But we're still having too many turnovers (17) so we're just going to have to get better in that area. We know what it takes and we'll just keep trying to improve."

Syracuse coach Mark Akers, a veteran of southwest Kansas girls basketball, simply said he thought it was the best team he'd seen in all his years in the profession.

"They are good, they are strong, they are powerful," Akers said of the Mustangs. "There's not a weakness on the team. They play hard, they play clean, and they're just very good."

Heidi Brown tossed in 18 points and Lindsay Garinger had 12 to give Heights a balance scoring attack. Syracuse was led by senior Kylee Hedberg, with 13 points, but she was just 4-of-16 from the field. Syracuse hit just 9-of-39 shots (21 percent).

------------

SW Heights 70, Syracuse 38

SYRACUSE (3-2) Rash 2-12 1-1 5, Sharp 1-5 0-0 2, Gordanier 1-3 1-3 3, Nairn 0-2 3-4 3, Hedberg 4-16 5-9 13, Graber 0-0 0-0 0, Darnell 0-0 0-0 0, Gerard 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 9-39 10-17 28.

SW HEIGHTS (5-0) Butler 0-1 1-3 3, D. Jacobs 9-12 3-5 21, Garinger 4-5 3-4 11, R. Jacobs 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 7-9 3-5 18, Angell 0-5 0-0 0, Eakes 1-1 0-0 2, Eaton 0-2 0-2 0, Stout 3-4 0-0 6, Ryan 1-1 0-0 2, Sigala 2-2 0-0 4, Juarez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-46 9-18 70.

Syracuse 0 11 11 6 -- 28

SW Heights 17 18 20 15 -- 70

3-point goals Syracuse 0-5 (Rash 0-2, Sharp 0-3), SWH 3-8 (Butler 1-3, Garinger 1-1, Brown 1-2, Angell 0-1, Eaton 0-1). Rebounds Syracuse 21 (Gordanier 8), SWH 37 (D. Jacobs 11). Turnovers Syracuse 21, SWH 17. Total fouls Syracuse 14, SWH 15. Fouled out SWH (Ryan).