By NICK McQUEEN
Special to The Telegram
HAYS — Next time around, Dighton High School girls' basketball coach Amy Felker knows her team will have more confidence.
In Wednesday's first-round game of the Class 1A Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum against second-seeded Norwich, the coach said her young Hornet squad wasn't quite up to speed.
It showed as Norwich, which lost in the first round last season, pulled away in the second quarter and won 56-35. The Dighton loss ended the Hornets' season at 16-8.
"They said they weren't nervous, but deep down I think they were scared," Felker said of her club, which has no seniors. "A lot of it had to with that."
The rest of it was the athleticism and experience on the part of Norwich, which came in with just one loss — to Class 1A-Division I state qualifier St. John.
"Norwich is a great rebounding team," Felker said. "Every scouting report I got they said they're fundamental, they get the rebounds."
Norwich started slow as Dighton mounted a 6-1 lead, but a 3-pointer by senior point guard Haley Rust cut into the lead, and got the ball rolling.
With Dighton holding Norwich's leading scorer, senior Mackenzie Klaver, in check, others stepped up.
"They were very sound," Felker said of the Eagles. "We just got in a hurry. We tried to do too much too fast, and we'd dribble the ball off our foot."
Dighton trailed just 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, but three straight turnovers to start the second helped Norwich (23-1) mount a 20-12 lead.
Freshman Macy Stephens scored four points, senior Hayley Poljansek added four, and junior Bailey Poe scored seven as Norwich outscored the Hornets, 17-4, in the second frame.
Dighton was in a bit of foul trouble with junior Diamond Brown picking up two early. Junior Liz Heath had two as well.
"We had to sit Diamond down with her second foul," Felker said. "We just don't have anyone with the confidence to sort of take over the game in that situation.
"We sat Liz down a little bit with two fouls, and they just capitalized a little bit on some of our younger, inexperienced players," the coach added. "They cut back door on us, and they got some shots just based on our inexperience."
Poe finished the game with a game-high 20 points, while Klaver, who averaged 13 per game coming in, had just six.
"I think we did play pretty well," Felker said. "(Klaver) was a pretty good ball player, and we did all right on her."
Junior Leslie Speer did get her average with a strong second half. She had two points at halftime, but finished with 12. Junior Shambrey Budd led the Hornets with 14, eight coming after intermission.
The Hornets made several small runs in the second half, but a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter was too much to overcome. Norwich moved into Friday's semifinal game against Rexford-Golden Plains (21-2), a 58-43 winner over Hope in Wednesday's late game.
Dighton returns every player in 2013-14.
"It puts the drive in us," Felker said. "I told them 'We have a sound game. We have a good defensive game and we know the offenses and can get open shots.'
"The one thing we are lacking is a shooter from the outside," she added. "If we want to be back here and get out of the first round, we have to have that consistent outside shooter that can knock them down."
Dighton 12 4 6 13 -- 35
Norwich 13 17 13 13 -- 56
DIGHTON (16-8) — Leslie Speer 4-9 4-4 12, Shambrey Budd 6-9 2-2 14, Brown 3-8 1-3 7, K. Budd 0-9 2-2 2, Heath 0-7 0-0 0. Totals — 13-42 9-11 35.
NORWICH (23-1) --Bailey Poe 9-14 0-0 20, Hayley Poljansek 6-11 2-4 14, Rust 2-8 0-0 5, Vavra 0-1 0-0 0, Klaver 2-5 2-4 6, Garrison 0-1 0-0 0, Stephens 3-5 1-1 7, Stephens 0-0 2-2 2. Totals — 22-46 7-11 54.
3-pointers — Dighton 0-7 (K. Budd 0-7); Norwich 3-5 (Rust 10-1, Poe 2-3, Stephens 0-1). Assists — Dighton 4 (D. Brown 4); Norwich 8 (Poljansek 3). Steals — Dighton 7 (Brown 3); Norwich 6 (M. Stephens 2). Blocks — Dighton 3 (Three with 1); Norwich 3 (Three with 1). Total fouls — Dighton 13, Norwich 12. Fouled out — none.
Rebounds — Dighton 21 (S. Budd 7); Norwich 26 (Poljansek 11). Turnovers — Dighton 18, Norwich 15.