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Redskins!

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Saturday
March 28th, 2020

machiaosMachia Mullens splits two Olathe South defenders on the way to the basket Wednesday in Koch Arena at Wichita State University in the first round of the Class 6A State Basketball Tournament. Mullens scored 20 points to lead Liberal to a 41-33 win. L&T photo/Earl WattBy EARL WATT

Leader & Times

WICHITA — After watching an 11-point lead disappear in the second half against Olathe South Wednesday at the Class 6A State Basketball Tournament, the Lady Redskins picked up the defensive pressure and fought their way to the basket to finish the game on a 10-2 run in a 41-33 win that sent Liberal to its second Final Four in three years.

Liberal has relied on its defense all season, and another strong defensive performance allowed the Lady Redskins to overcome a slow start.

Katie Horyna scored first, and Machia Mullens followed with a free throw to give Liberal an early 3-0 lead.

But Olathe South responded with four straight points to take the only lead the Lady Falcons had all game.

Olathe South standout Dane Winslow was whistled for her second foul in the first four minutes of the game, and the Lady Redskins pushed to an 8-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Olathe South coach Michael Allen put Winslow back in, and she was able to avoid foul trouble and landed a three early in the second quarter to cut Liberal’s lead to 10-8.

But Mullens scored 11 of her 20 points in the second quarter to push Liberal’s lead to 19-12.

Horyna added a basket, and Aubrey Warden scored before half, and the Lady Redskins had a 23-16 lead.

Liberal quickly pushed out to an 11-point lead by connecting on the first two shots of the third quarter with baskets from Warden and Ashley Carrillo for a 27-16 advantage.

But after a Lady Falcon time out, Olathe South responded with a 9-0 run that included two threes, and the Lady Redskins lead was cut to two, 27-25.

Liberal coach Carter Kruger took a time out, and Audrey Gilmore responded with a basket, but two free throws form Sophie Reed and a basket from Winslow forced a 29-29 tie with 1:46 to play in the third quarter.

Horyna hit a shot at the end of the period, but Olathe South tied the game at 31-31 with 5:44 to play in the game.

Mullens was fouled on her next shot but only made one free throw, and Olathe South had two chances to take the lead, but the Lady Redskin defense held firm. 

Mullens stretched the lead to three with a shot, and after another defensive stop, Warden landed a basket to push Liberal’s lead to 36-31 with 2:41 to play.

The Lady Redskins forced a turnover on the next possession and pushed the ball up to a streaking Carrillo, but she was fouled on the breakaway attempt and temporarily left the game.

Reece hay landed one of two free throws for a 37-31 lead.

Olathe South’s Mandy Truit landed a shot with 2:03 to play to cut the lead to four, but the Lady Redskins started to melt the clock, and Mullens was sent to the lines for back-to-back one-and-one opportunities, and she made all four shots for the 41-33 win.

Mullens led the Lady Redskins with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Horyna scored eight points and seven rebounds, and Warden had eight points and four rebounds.

“We really wore them down,” Kruger said. “We came on at the right time. There are things we can improve on, but we played a really nice game.”

The Lady Redskins only shot 37 percent, but they held Olathe South to only 23 percent.

Kruger also had to make a call to play Horyna in the fourth quarter after she committed her fourth foul. Horyna came out for a possession and went back in.

“It was one of those things where you cross your fingers and hope she doesn’t get her fifth,” Kruger said. “She needed to be out there on both ends of the court.”

Olathe South was athletic and talented.

“We played really hard,” Kruger said. “They are a great team.”

Liberal played two close games earlier in the year, an overtime win over Dodge City and a one-point win over Hugoton.

“It gives you confidence,” Kruger said. “It’s like practicing for this situation. The pressure is on, and you have to go make plays. It shows our mettle and fortitude.”

Liberal will play Derby who needed double overtime to knock off Shawnee Mission Southwest, 44-39. The semifinal game will begin at 3 p.m. in Koch Arena.

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