Good Luck

June 05th, 2020

katieshotinlanemanKatie Horyna takes a shot in the lane against Manhattan Friday night in The Big House in the Sub-State championship game. Horyna scored 14 points in a 53-33 win, Horyna also finished her career in The Big House by scoring more than 1,000 points as a Lady Redskin. L&T photo/Earl WattBy EARL WATT

Leader & Times

A barrage of deep shots coupled with a ferocious defensive effort gave the Lady Redskins a fast start in front of a raucous crowd in The Big House Friday night in the Sub-State championship against Manhattan, and Liberal maintained the momentum throughout the night in a 53-33 win that qualified the Lady Redskins for their third straight state tournament berth.

Manhattan had the largest post Liberal faced all season with six-foot, three-inch Zanaa Cordis, and the Lady Redskins looked for their opportunities from the perimeter early.

They found them.

Machia Mullens continued to show the versatility of a post with range when she knocked down a long-range shot with a toe on the three-point line in the first 20 seconds of the game, and moments later, Audrey Gilmore drained a corner three.

Katie Horyna followed with a wing three, and midway through the first quarter the Lady Redskins had an 8-0 lead.

Manhattan put in their first basket while being fouled to cut the lead to 8-3, but Aubrey Warden responded with another three for the Lady Redskins.

The Lady Redskins had slowly worked the post up to the free throw line, and they brought Cordis away form the basket.

That opened up some cuts under the basket, and Warden made a shot at the block before Mullens attempted a shot at the basket and was fouled. She made both free throws, and the Lady Redskins had a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Horyna added another three in the second quarter that pushed Liberal’s lead to 20-7, but Manhattan started to find opportunities and cut the lead to nine with 5:23 to play before half.

Warden, Horyna and Gilmore added baskets, and the Lady Redskins went to half with a 26-15 lead.

After ending the first half on a 4-0 run, the Lady Redskins continued to dominate early in the third, extending to a 14-2 run that included eight points from Mullens, six of those from the free throw line, and the Lady Redskins opened up a 33-15 lead.

Bree Horyna knocked down a three later in the quarter, and the Lady Redskins continued to drive to the basket and reach the free throw line.

By the end of the third quarter, Liberal had a 44-24 lead.

Reece Hay became the fifth Lady Redskin to knock down a  three-point shot early in the fourth quarter, but Manhattan attempted to rally with a 6-0 run midway through the final period and reduced the lead to 15, 49-33, with 2:23 to play.

But Liberal coach Cater Kruger started to play possession, and the Lady Redskins passed the ball while melting more than a minute off the clock until Ashley Carrillo was wide open under the basket and nailed a lay-up for a 51-33 lead.

Mullens added two more free throws in the final minute, and ‘That’ Liberal Band started the chant — “undefeated.”

The Rowdy Crowd joined in as the final seconds ticked off the clock, and the Lady Redskins completed their second consecutive 22-0 run to head back to the Class 6A State tournament.

Mullens led the Lady Redskins with 15 points. Horyna scored 14 and broke the 1,000-point mark for her Lady Redskin career.

Warden scored nine.

substateteamshotThe Lady Redskins show their Sub-State championship plaque after defeating Manhattan 53-33 Friday. L&T photo/Earl WattLiberal held Cordis scoreless in the first half, and he Manhattan standout ended the night with eight points.

“We did a really good job in the first half keeping the ball out of her hands,” Kruger said. “We got tired in the second half, but we competed really hard all night. We’ve been talking a long time about how we can play offensively, and we played really well tonight.”

That offense started early with three of the first four shots coming from beyond the three-point line.

“We’re a really good shooting team,” Kruger said. “When we come out with confidence, we will be tough to beat, especially shooting from the outside.”

With the game in hand, Kruger controlled the ball in the final two minutes.

“We just wanted to get the game over with,” he said. “We didn’t want to give them a bunch of opportunities. And we made free throws down the stretch.”

The Lady Redskins didn’t coast to a 22-0 record this season. They had to beat Dodge City in overtime after Mullens fouled out, and the Lady Redskins had to come from behind in Hugoton and watch a final shot miss to secure a 41-40 win. 

That put Friday’s win over Manhattan in a special place for Kruger.

“When you have the expectation we are going to go to state, this is probably No. 1,” he said. “Our kids had to battle through a lot. We had some close calls and had to win at the end. When you are playing for seeding, it is a culmination of a great season. Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”

After joining the 1,000 Point Club, Horyna also wanted to see the momentum continue for the Lady Redskins.

“It feels amazing, I hope we keep doing it,” she said. “We’ve been shooting all week, if just keep doing it, we will do great.”

Horyna played through some tough challenges all season but believes the Lady Redskins are on a  roll.

“This is where we are peaking,” she said. “We can go far. We are going to do great things.”

Mullens was one of the posts who had to try to slow down Cordis in the lane despite being outsized.

“I had to match her,” Mullens said. “She was bigger so I had to be stronger. I am pretty quick for a post, so I had to run her and get her tired.”

Mullens took her first shot with a toe on the three-point line, and the Lady Redskins delivered from outside.

“We surprised ourselves a little bit,” Mullens said. “We were jittery, but it was working. We were hitting shots.”

But Mullens picked up her second foul in the first half and had to  sit. But the Lady Redskins built on the lead until Mullens returned. “I was just thinking how I can go in and keep momentum going and increase our lead,” she said.

While the Lady Redskins may have had some close games earlier in the season, there is no room for error now.

“This is the real deal,” Mullens said. “This is one and done. This one matters. You could lose and bounce back earlier in the season, but now you lose and you’re done, and now we’re going to state. Last year we were top dog and lost at state. That left a bitter taste in our mouth.”

Liberal will play at Charles Koch Arena Wednesday. The presumed opponent will be 13-7 Olathe South who upset Blue Valley North 50-40. 

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