Girls overwhelm Eagles for win
It was exactly what the team needed, De Soto girls basketball coach Dwight Spencer said.
After a humbling yet rewarding 0-3 start to the season at the Hays City Shootout, Tuesday's 55-21 shellacking of Maranatha went a long way toward helping heal the Wildcats. Spencer said the win helped both prove the dangerous trip to Hays a success and label the new Wildcat girls as a team loaded with potential.
In forcing 31 turnovers, holding the Eagles scoreless in the second quarter and finding plenty of ways to score in their own right, the Cats were thorough in dismanteling their opponent for their first win of the season.
"Our intensity was good (Tuesday) and that just wore them down," Spencer said. "Turnover wise, that's what we're trying for. We won't be the best rebounding team because of our size, so we're really preaching that we get back on defense and a turnover number like that is great for us."
De Soto got scoring from seven different players and went a long way toward showing exactly how it plans to generate points this season.
Utilizing a steady and patient offensive approach, the Wildcats often waited for their shot and cashed in when they had the opportunity.
Sophomore Kelsey Fisher led the Wildcats with 14 points, but classmate Katie Williams served as the team's go-to offensive player against the Eagles.
De Soto proved itself stocked at guard Tuesday, Fisher starting along side fellow sophomore Tami Crow and junior Amber Laudick, with freshman Shelbi Petty, sophomore Jordin Burford and junior Danielle Price rotating in for quality minutes.
The guards worked the ball around the perimeter throughout the game, but eventually it found its way into Williams working in the paint.
She scored 11 points despite shooting just 40 percent from the field. It was the second best game in her career behind only a 13-point effort in last season's opener.
"I could have played better than I did. If I had made all my shots, I would have had more, but that's the only thing I'm frustrated with," Williams said.
She scored the ball and consistently forced the defense to adjust to her presence. As the game wore on into the second half, it turned into fouls and free throw opportunities.
"She's very active inside and even though she didn't shoot the ball as well as she would have liked, she made things happen," Spencer said. "She has to understand that and not get frustrated."
Junior Barbara Hartz joined Williams working inside, earning her first start in her first home game as a Wildcat. An exchange student from Germany, Hartz finished with 10 points. She played and scored with flair both early and late. She grabbed a steal and drove for a layup to make the first-quarter score 9-2. Later, she fed Petty for an assist, sank a 15-foot jumper and jumped high above the fracas to toss in another during a third-quarter stretch in which she contributed to three of four consecutive baskets.
"We haven't played her much inside because she handles the ball so well," Spencer said. "She got an opportunity and she really looked good in there. What I hope to do is get her in there more and more. With her height and athleticism we need her there."
The Cats scored breaking away from the established offense, too.
Fisher kick started her game by draining a 3-point shot on the game's first possession. De Soto had a 13-7 lead after the first quarter and pushed it to 24-7 by the end of the second, Williams scoring on a feed from Fisher and on two offensive rebound put-backs, the second coming packaged with a made free throw.
"The best part of that is we've really been struggling in the second quarter," Spencer said of the eight-minute shutout. "We set the level of intensity. We didn't play to their level and that really set the tone for the game."
Petty, who finished with nine points, came alive in the second half, scoring in the third quarter after an assist from Hartz, then making four of six free throws. She finally hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
"We had a lot more shots go in (Tuesday) and we shared the ball a lot better. We also had better passes," Williams said.
The whole night was a welcome change from a weekend in which the team struggled.
De Soto had the lead at the end of the first quarter in its first game, but ran out of gas in the second quarter. Hays took the lead and quickly built a healthy gap, distancing the Wildcats as the game went on.
De Soto played more consistent, but still lost in the second game, falling to Newton. Finally, the team struggled to score in the seventh-place game, losing 37-25 to Garden City.
"We've improved a lot from the first game," Williams said. "Everyone knew we'd come back and play hard (against Maranatha.)"
The team now has plenty of time to come to terms with both Tuesday's easy win and the weekend's rough losses. The Cats have 10 days off before returning to the court Dec. 14 at home against Atchison.