Three quarters doom Cats
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the end of De Soto's season was the evidence that it didn't have to be that way.
Mired in a slump in January, the Cats rebounded with five-straight wins in February, and while they never truly solved their scoring-consistency problems, a 28-point fourth quarter in Monday's game proved that the firepower was there.
None of it would prove enough, however, and the 28-point surge did little but make the final score respectable and extend the game.
De Soto fell to Bonner Springs at home in the first round of the sub-state tournament, 62-51, officially ending the Cats' season.
"The kids worked so hard in a situation that looked hopeless. They just battled their butts off," De Soto coach Dwight Spencer said. "We just dug ourselves too deep a hole."
Jackie Goleman had 27 points and Kira Gonzalez added 10 as the duo led what was a memorable comeback, even if it fell 11 points shy.
Down 20 points twice in the third quarter and 18 points when the fourth quarter started, the Cats surged and nearly brought the game into single digits.
Gonzalez, held scoreless through three quarters, found her game and scored eight points in a two-minute span, cutting the lead to 15. Goleman scored to make it 13 and the Cats had chances to cut it to 10 after forcing back-to-back turnovers.
Minutes later Goleman scored two-straight buckets and drew fouls on both, cutting the lead to 12. She missed both free throws, however, and De Soto wouldn't be as close again until Gonzalez sank two free throws with 10 seconds remaining, setting the final score.
"Our struggles in scoring really gave them opportunities," Spencer said. "If you leave them open, they will hit their shots. They're a good basketball team. They're quick and they can shoot the ball. They're just a good ball team. We just struggled scoring for a while and dug ourselves too big a hole."
The fourth-quarter heroics might have been more effective had the first 75 percent of the game not gone so poorly for the Cats.
De Soto was down just one after a quarter, but Bonner Springs' 3-point shooters began to warm while the Wildcats' passes and decisions turned cold.
The Cats racked up 16 turnovers in the first half, and at one point turned the ball over on four-straight possessions resulting in five Braves points.
Moments later Hilary Johnson connected from beyond the arc to give the Braves a 24-15 lead near the end of the second quarter.
"If we had been able to consistently score through the first two quarters, I think it would have been a different ball game," Spencer said. "We aren't out there shooting 60 or 70 percent, then when we can't even get shots off, that tells you why we didn't score a lot of points."
As disastrous as the second quarter may have been, it was the third quarter that put Bonner Springs out of striking distance.
Goleman scored three quick points, but Bonner's Kelsey Stanbrough nailed back-to-back treys, Johnson hit another and Taryn Lane scored before the Cats could answer.
That 11-point swing pushed the lead to 20 and for all practical purposes ended the game.
Even in the loss, the game was an improvement from De Soto's Friday night performance against Eudora. The Cats saw their winning streak snapped on the road as the Cardinals won, 55-27.
Goleman scored 13, but she was alone in double figures and only three other Cats got on the scoreboard. Managing just five points, all via free throws, in the second quarter, De Soto couldn't keep pace with Eudora.