Girls dream season ends short of state
Cold shooting, Bishop Ward quickness doom Wildcats
Allie Heinen's three-pointer with seven seconds remaining in the first half had the Wildcats feeling good as they went to the locker room during Thursday's sub-state semifinal against Bishop Ward. But the three-point lead Heinen's shot provided wouldn't last long.
"That was a big shot she hit for us," said Wildcat senior Emily Baker said of Heinen's trey. "We had heard about how fast they were, so I think we were a little scared at first. That shot kept our confidence up and kept our excitement going."
The excitement may have turned into anxiety, however, as the third period wore on. Ward took the lead less than two minutes into the third quarter and never relinquished it after it out-scored the Wildcats 18-10 in the period.
The Wildcats were able to forge four ties after losing the lead but couldn't overcome the Cyclones, who went on to win the game 53-45.
For Baker and the Wildcats, Ward's speed was just too much.
"We didn't play in a real tough conference this year, and I think that hurt us because we didn't see that kind of speed before," Baker said. "We're not the kind of team that likes to slow it down, and we turned the ball over too much because of it.
"The turnovers went to our head, and everybody started to do it. It was kind of a chain reaction."
Ward's quickness contributed to a 43-28 rebound advantage over the taller Wildcats and the Cyclones' 35 trips to the free-throw line.
"We committed a lot of stupid fouls because they were so fast," Baker said. "We would end up reaching around them. Then when we needed to foul them it was hard to catch them."
Lisa Lambert helped the Wildcats rally from a 36-31 deficit at the start of the fourth-quarter with a three-pointer that rimmed in. Heinen then hit a pair of free throws, tying the score at 36-36 with less than two minutes in the final period.
But Bishop Ward bounced back when Clare Stump drove through the Wildcat defense for a layup and then nailed a three-pointer, giving the Cyclones a 41-36 advantage.
Ward's speed then allowed them to start using the clock. De Soto had three fouls to give early in the fourth period, so it was forced to start fouling early.
Luckily for the Wildcats, the Cyclones were cold from the charity stripe, as they made just 12-of-25 charity tosses in the period. But the Wildcats couldn't take advantage on the offensive end.
"We were forcing too many shots," Baker said. "I don't think we were looking for good shots. Plus, it was hard to get the ball in to Allie."
The Wildcats came out and hit four of their first five shots in the opening, building a 9-0 advantage right out of the gate. But then offense broke down. The Wildcats made just 1-of-19 attempts during the remainder of the period.
"We came out pumped up and ready to play," Baker said. "But I think it seemed easier than we thought it would be, and we backed off. You can't back off on a team like them. They made us pay for that down the stretch."
The Wildcat offensive struggles gave Bishop Ward renewed life. De Soto led 11-7 after the first eight minutes.
Bishop Ward took advantage of a 6-2 run early in the second period, tying the score at 13-13 with just more than three minutes left in the half. The Wildcats and Cyclones then traded baskets until Heinen drilled the three-pointer.
Allison Rank led the way for Ward by piling up 14 points and nine rebounds. Beth Baughman scored 11 points and grabbed seven boards for the Cyclones, while Urse Charbonneau scored nine points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Heinen led all scorers with 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds for De Soto. Amy Petty scored seven points and snared two rebounds, while Lambert tallied five points and raked in four caroms.
The Cyclones (16-6) went on to edge Eudora (16-6) 52-50 for the sub-state championship and a berth in the state tournament.
De Soto ended the season with a 19-3 record.