By JORDAN WICKSTROM
GREENSBURG — Prior to Saturday's Class 2A girls basketball sub-state championship game, Meade (10-13) had already played Cimarron three times during the regular season and lost all three.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the game at Kiowa County Gym, it looked as though the result would be the same following Cimarron's Ashtynn Burns hitting what many believed would be the game-winning shot to send Cimarron (19-5) to the state tournament.
However, Meade junior Tatum Hansen drove the length of the court and hit a bank shot 3-pointer at the buzzer to help the Buffaloes win, 49-48, and propel them to a state tournament berth at Kansas State University's Bramlage Coliseum.
"I just thought, I've got to set my feet and give this ball a chance," Hansen said of her final shot. "I called "bank" so it counts."
Hansen finished with a 14 points for her team that she said few believed could pull off a trip to state.
"All week we've been calling ourselves a Cinderella team," Hansen said. "We never ever thought that we couldn't do it, and all year we've been fighting and it finally paid off."
Emotions ran high for both teams following the game and for Meade coach Craig Batchman, this was especially true as he will make his state tournament debut as a coach.
"It was an amazing game," Batchman said. "The girls played really well. We knew it was going to be a battle because this was the fourth time we'd seen Cimarron. We knew even when we had the lead, we had to keep battling and hang on."
Neither team never made it easy for the other, however. Cimarron trailed 16-8 after one quarter but fought back following Avery Burns' five points and trailed by only four, 27-23, at the half.
"They showed a lot of character," said Cimarron coach David Ediger. "Their hearts were there, their effort was good. But (Meade) made a bank three and deserved the win."
After Cimarron outscored Meade 10-6 in the third quarter, the two teams started to warm up by practically trading baskets.
Avery Burns once again got Cimarron's offense kick-started, scoring eight of the team's first 10 fourth-quarter points.
After battling to a 46-46 tie, the teams failed to take advantage of foul shots and possibly taking the lead.
Cimarron's Kate Lock and Breanna Bryant both missed free throws, while Meade's Britney Reimer missed her foul shots as well.
It wasn't until the final pair of shots from Meade and Cimarron that the teams finally scored.
For Cimarron, this game was obviously hard to endure.
Still, the team was proud of the way the season went and will look forward to next year when it will return all but one of its players from this season's roster.
"I told the girls, they've got an awful lot to be proud of. They don't see it now, but they will," Ediger said. "They accomplished some things that even our team that finished second at state couldn't do.
"That was win the league regular season and league tournament. They've got a lot to be proud of. I hope this makes us stronger."
Meade will play Oxford in the first round of the state championship at 3 p.m. Thursday in Manhattan.
Meade 16 11 6 16 -- 49
Cimarron 8 15 8 17 -- 48
Meade--Hansen 4 4-7 14, Larrabee 3 3-4 11, Friesen 3 0-0 6, Cook 2 2-2 6, Cordes 2 0-0 4, Crain 0 2-4 2, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Totals 14 11-17 49.
Cimarron--Av. Burns 3 14-16 20, Lock 3 3-6 9, Ash. Burns 3 1-2 8, Wehkamp 2 3-3 7, Dupree 0 2-4 2, Bryant 1 0-3 2, Totals 12 23-34 48.
3-point goals--Meade 4 (Hansen, Larrabee 2 each), Cimarron 1 (Ash. Burns 1).