Re-focused girls squad can’t hang with Trailblazers
The De Soto girls basketball team was able Friday to escape its immediate past - it put to bed the horrid taste of last week's 17-point performance against Eudora but putting up more than 40 against Gardner Edgerton.
It wasn't able to escape the fact that it's still a team comprised almost completely of youngsters, however. De Soto was better, but it still wasn't good enough in the Frontier League. The Cats fell 62-43 at Gardner, their 15th loss of the season.
"We were more focused on both sides of the ball," Spencer said. "They post it up extremely well, then they have good shooters to boot, so it's really hard to help on the post people.
"Overall, compared to the other night, I feel a whole lot better. We took some steps forward."
The Cats will have one last opportunity to take a step before it opens up sub-state play Monday with a trip to top-seed Basehor-Linwood.
De Soto will play host to Louisburg Friday, the team's last home game of the season. It will be the last home game for one senior, guard Amber Wilson, and it will be a chance for the team to avenge a close loss from earlier in the season.
The Cats let a game slip away at Louisburg. They lost 46-41, but led through most of the game and into the fourth quarter.
Spencer said he saw his team execute a few of the things it'll need to win Friday against Gardner despite the lopsided final score.
De Soto trailed by 10 after the first quarter, but finally found a solution to its season-long offensive woes. The Cats drew fouls and picked up the slack at the line, banging home 12 points from free throws in the second quarter alone.
The charity-stripe onslaught helped the team keep pace with Gardner's efficient attack and consistently cut the gap to single digits.
De Soto shot 68 percent from the line Friday, making 17 of 25 attempts.
"As a team, that's not bad," Spencer said. "Until we handle pressure better, you're just trying to make it one trip at a time. We're just trying to make the right pass on the press, break the press."
The Cats still struggled to find scoring, even when it did break through Gardner's relentless full-court pressure. Sophomore Kelsey Fisher broke free once, slashing through the press for an easy layup. That one possession represented what the team had hoped to do all night.
Instead, it often found itself bogged down, passing the ball around the three-point arch without a good shot to be had.
"We allow them to push us out too far," Spencer said. "Hopefully that will come. We've talked about trying to make a cut to get the ball within shooting range as opposed to just making a cut to the next spot to keep the ball moving. We need to keep working on it."
Not that Gardner left much of a door open for any sort of De Soto rally - the Blazers opened up the game in the third quarter, a pair of free throws to start the fourth making it a 20-point contest.
Free throws, De Soto's savior early in the game, proved its downfall. Gardner hit 25 of 30, 83 percent.
"That's exceptional as a high school team - even a college team would be thrilled to shoot 84 percent," Spencer said.
De Soto may need to find a similar hot streak Monday if it's to knock off Basehor. The Bobcats are one of the top Class 4A teams in the state, and one of the favorites to win the state championship.
They've lost only one game, an overtime contest against Tonganoxie, and enter the tournament 18-1. They had already beat the Chieftains once this season, and have bested all other comers, plenty of 5A schools included.
The game is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Basehor-Linwood High School.
"They're an excellent team, No. 1 one the area in the small class and that's the only thing that's small about them," Spencer said. "What do we do? We come out and play as hard as we can. We play and believe we have a shot.
"The biggest thing we want to do is play hard, focus on doing things right."