One short: Lady Hornets fall in Class 1A-II state semifinals
By KEVIN THOMPSON
By KEVIN THOMPSON
HAYS — When the Dighton Lady Hornets surrounded coach Amy Felker 15 minutes after their 40-37 loss in the state semifinals, it was not to console, but to thank.
Thank her, thank each other, and thank their fans for getting them this far in the state Class 1A- Division II tournament.
The consoling was done in the locker room, but the Dighton players knew they had left everything on the floor of Gross Memorial Coliseum, just as Baileyville B&B had in the win.
Both teams played zone defenses, accounting for the low score.
Both teams only turned the ball over 12 times, and they were low in fouls. Rebounds were nearly equal.
But in the end, it was Baileyville (23-3) that played its way into tonight's final against Rexford-Golden Plains.
It was the type of game Felker told her team to expect, Felker said.
"Our game is really a slow-paced game, and theirs is a slow-paced game," she said. "You knew it was going to be a battle of who executed and got those last few possessions."
Those last few led to three missed shots before Dighton's Leslie Speer's final basket of her high school career with just four seconds left.
"They had a mission and they worked hard," Felker said of her team. "First half, things were rolling for us. Second half, they (Baileyville) got some key post moves inside and made some big baskets. But our girls played hard. They battled the whole way. It was a team effort."
Dighton dominated the first quarter, holding the Lady Falcons to just a pair of field goals for the first seven minutes, eventually taking a 14-8 lead. Kiara Budd hit a pair of treys to go with Speer's five points.
Both teams came out cold in the second, with the Hornets holding a 22-16 lead at halftime.
Baileyville then went on a run in the third period, scoring field goals on six straight trips to tie the score at 28.
"The confidence (from the first half) started dropping when they made that run," Felker said. "We tried to pull ourselves together but just came up short."
The momentum switched to the Falcons, as they took their first lead since the opening basket at 5:42 in the fourth, the first of five lead changes in the final quarter.
The Hornets' final lead came at 2:34 when Jordan Speer broke free from a double team for an easy layup.
But Lauren Sudbeck backed herself under the goal for a spinning layup and the Falcons got to play the stall game, converting 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch for the win.
Sudbeck led the Falcons with 15 points, the only player in double figures for Baileyville.
Felker was impressed with her team's defensive play, a year-long goal to hold team's under their scoring average, which they did by five.
"We worked as a unit, but we had a couple of down times in the third and late in the fourth, and those hurt in a crucial game like this," she said.
Baileyville keyed down low on Speer, but Felker was proud of how her team spreads the wealth.
"Tonight, different people took turns stepping up at different times to make some really big baskets that were important to the runs we made," she said. "That's been our team all year."
Senior point guard Diamond Brown echoed those sentiments.
"We left it on the court. It was all heart," she said. "We came out on fire. We were working as a team."
Felker said it was team play that got the good start.
"We were playing with confidence in the first half. We got some huge rebounds the second half," Felker said. "I told them that if they wanted to compete, they had to rebound. They did everything they could. We just came up a little bit short."
Dighton caught a break in the second quarter when both teams shot poorly (Dighton was 2 for 7, Baileyville 3 of 14), but they also committed seven of their 12 turnovers in that period. Turnovers meant no chance to score, and that meant the Hornets couldn't widen the gap going into halftime.
Brown said, "I don't think we came out as powerful as we did the first quarter. I don't think we got up as quick."
"I told them it's a game of runs and they just have to play and keep going," Felker said. "We tried really hard to make that last run."
For the senior Speer, it was a tough game. The first quarter defense got the good stops, which carried through the first half, she said.
"The second half, we came out strong, but they definitely came out more aggressive than we did," she said.
Then came the fourth quarter.
"It was definitely a very intense part of the game. We still believed," Speer added.
Thursday's 47-35 win over Argonia in the quarterfinals had given her team confidence, she said. It just wasn't enough Friday.
Freshman Jordan Speer finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
"It was exciting to play in this game," she said. "It's an honor playing with these four seniors, especially my older sister."
Felker emphasized rebounding, and she talked about the game of runs, the younger Speer said.
"We know that, and we know we can always come back," she said. "Just things didn't work out in our favor. We're still a good team."
Dighton (18-6) takes on Bucklin (21-4) in the third-place game at noon. The Red Aces fell 52-49 in their semifinal.
The Falcons move on to the championship against Golden Plains at 4 p.m.
"Both teams wanted it really bad. Our girls know that that was a huge game," Felker said. "Now they've got to come back and show what kind of character they have because we still have a trophy we could bring home and be proud of."
This was Dighton's second straight trip to state, bowing out in the first round last year.
"They're so team-oriented, and they love each other," Felker said. "It's just a blessing to be able to coach them."
Dighton 14 8 6 9 -- 37
Baileyville B&B 8 8 12 12 -- 40
Dighton (18-6)--Brown 2-6 0-0 4, K. Budd 2-8 0-0 6, Heath 1-4 1-1 4, L. Speer 5-11 2-3 12, S. Budd 2-9 1-3 5, Cramer 0-1 0-0 0, J. Speer 3-6 1-2 7. Totals 15-45 5-9 37.
Baileyville (23-3)--Huerter 3-7 3-4 9, Kramer 1-6 2-2 4, Hulsin 2-12 0-0 4, L. Sudbeck 7-13 1-4 15, A. Schmitz 1-1 1-1 4, N. Sudbeck 1-1 1-2 3, Macke 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-43 8-14 40.
3-point goals--Dighton 2-9 (K. Budd 2-6, S. Budd 0-3), Baileyville 0-4 (Hulsing 0-2, L. Sudbeck 0-2). Rebounds--Dighton 29 (L. Speer 9, S. Budd 8, J. Speer 7), Baileyville 25 (L. Sudbeck 7). Turnovers--Dighton 12, Baileyville 12. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--Dighton 14, Baileyville 13. Technical fouls--none.