McPHERSON — It was not a convincing way to advance to the semifinals of the 24th annual Mid-America Classic for the Ulysses High School girls basketball team, but the Tigers escaped with the 29-24 victory over Dodge City High School despite it being the lowest scoring game in tournament history.
"We were sluggish offensively," Ulysses Head Coach Tim Hofferber said. "It wasn't that we weren't getting good looks, we just couldn't make anything. That puts a lot of pressure on the defensive end, which I thought we played pretty sound defense.”
It took until 3:36 was left in the first quarter for either team to put points on the board, when Ulysses’ Gina Ballesteros sunk a three-pointer. The Tigers made just 25.6 percent of their shots (10 of 39) while Dodge City hit just 22.5 percent (9 of 40). The Demons also turned it over 19 times, while the Tigers had just 12 miscues.
"We did a lot better defensively. I was pleased with that effort, but we had some run outs and missed layups," Dodge City Head Coach Kelley Snodgrass said. "We talked about pushing the ball … We have to get better at that."
Both teams went back and forth with two lead changes during the third quarter, but Ulysses still had the edge against the Demons, taking a 21-19 lead into the fourth quarter.
Chidera Okoro tied the game up for Dodge City in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but the Tigers regained the lead after a put-back shot by Gomez to make it 23-21. With less than a minute left, Riley Oglevie gave the Tigers a 27-24 lead. Dodge City called a timeout as the Demons looked to tie the game up, but the Tigers' defense came through late when it needed to, sealing the Tigers' victory.
Kisa Unruh was the only scored to finish in double figures, recording 11 points. Madison Haney led the Tigers with nine points. Olglevie may have scored only scored four points, but she put up 14 rebounds and five blocks.
"I thought the key to our defense was we rebounded the ball really well," Hofferber said. "Our big, Ogleive, defended the paint pretty good. In the second half we got more ball pressure, and got them turned over a couple time."
With the win, the Tigers advance to the semifinals, where they will take on the host McPherson High School on Friday. Hofferber knows what the Bullpups are capable of, and wants his players to surpass the first round and get ready for the next one.
"We try to forget the offensive part tonight, and come with a fresh attitude because we can score the ball. We’ve shown that in the past. We don't really need to worry from that part of it. I think that's a mental issue," Hofferber said. "What we have to do is take care of the ball against McPherson's press. I think that's one of the things they do the best. We’ve got to get out of the perimeter and find their three-point shooters.
“When you play McPherson, they don't beat themselves very often. It's going to be a big challenge for us, but we like being able to play in games like this because win, lose or draw it makes us better."
As for Dodge City, the Demons will drop to the consolation bracket, where they will take on Wichita-Southeast High School at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Tipoff of the semifinals will begin at 7:30 p.m. The winner will take on the winner of the Olathe South-Manhattan High School game in the finals at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the Roundhouse.
Other quarterfinal scores at the Mid-America Classic:
Olathe South 51, Valley Center 31
Manhattan 81, Wellington 51
McPherson 67, Wichita-Southeast 39