Dodge City, KS(westernkansasnews.com) The Dodge City boys’ and girls’ basketball teams split the season opening doubleheader against Junction City, with the Lady Red Demons coming from behind to win 46 – 39, while the boys fell to the Blue Jays 83 – 76.
The girls’ game was close all night, with six ties and 10 lead changes. Dodge City scored a couple of quick baskets at the end of the 1st quarter to take a 10-9 lead, but Junction City opened the 2nd quarter on a 9-0 run to take the game’s biggest lead, 18-10. The Lady Demons started chipping away, outscoring the Lady Jays 13-8 the rest of the half to trim the lead to 25-23 at the break.
Dodge City took the lead early in the 3rd quarter, with a 6-0 run to go up 29-25; but Junction City responded with 7-0 run to regain the lead, 32-29. Then it was the Lady Demons’ turn as they finished the quarter on a 6-1 run to lead 35-33 going to the 4th quarter.
Junction City would regain the lead 38-36, but Dodge City responded, retaking the lead, 40-38, on a Madison Armstrong bucket; and then getting a steal and coast-to-coast layup from Brianna Buller, who got fouled on the basket and hit the bonus to complete the 3-point play and give the Lady Red Demons a 43-38 lead. Dodge City finished it off at the free throw line, winning 46-39.
Freshman Kisa Unruh led Dodge City off the bench with 12 points and 5 rebounds, part of the Red Demons’ 27-7 advantage in points off the bench. Madison Armstrong added 9 points and Brianna Buller finished with 8. Dodge City shot 43% from the field for the game and had a big advantage at charity stripe, hitting 18 of 30, while Junction City connected on 7 of 14 free throws. The Red Demons also won the rebounding battle, 27-21. Turnovers were about even, 24 for Junction City and 23 for Dodge City, with the Red Demons getting 22 points off turnovers.
Head coach Kelly Snodgrass commented, “I thought the girls put it together at the end. We were a little bit more aggressive.”
The Lady Red Demons open the season 1-0, with defending state champion Manhattan up next.
In the boys’ game, the Red Demons jumped out to a 13-0 lead and then went cold from the field as the Blue Jays climbed back into the game and then took a commanding halftime lead. After opening with that 13-0 run, Dodge City held a 14-8 lead at the end of one quarter. The Red Demons’ last field goal came at the 4:30 mark of the 1st quarter and they couldn’t get another shot from the field to fall until there were less than 20 seconds remaining in the half, a field goal drought that spanned more than 11 minutes. They had plenty of chances at the charity stripe, hitting 12 free throws during that same span.
With a lid on the Red Demons’ basket, the Blue Jays stormed into the lead with a 16-1 run to start the 2nd quarter, building the lead to 14 late in the half, 38-24. Francisco Cayetano then hit a trey to end Dodge City’s field goal drought, but Junction got a last-second bucket to go into the locker room up 40-27.
In the 2nd half, Junction City built the lead to 17 points, 55-38, but Dodge City clawed back, twice cutting the lead to 8 before falling behind 61-51 going into the final stanza.
The Blue Jays stretched the lead to 16 in the first two minutes of the 4th quarter and the Red Demons battled back again, cutting the lead to seven, 80-73 with less than a minute to play. In the end, too many missed free throws and an overall cold night from the field kept Dodge City from completing the comeback, falling 83-76.
Tony Starnes, in his first game as Dodge City’s head coach, saw some positives in the Red Demons’ effort. “I just applaud the kids’ effort; never gave up; stayed positive with one another. We’re going to get better at everything we’re doing.”
The Red Demons forced 35 Blue Jay turnovers, scoring 32 points off those miscues, but shot only 34% for the game, including just 19%, 6 out of 31, in the 1st half. Dodge City hit only 6 of 32 3-point attempts and was 22 of 42 from the line, compared to Junction City’s 23 of 41 free throw shooting. The game was marred by 68 combined fouls, 36 for Junction City and 32 for Dodge City. Five Blue Jays fouled out, while no Red Demons fouled out, but several finished the game with four fouls.
Junction City’s Xavier Cason finished the night with a double-double, 13 points and 12 boards. Dodge City’s Noah Sowers led all scorers with 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field, but just 1 of 4 from the charity stripe. Kaden Rieckenberg tossed in 12 points, with Luke Gleason and Hunter Heath each adding 10 points to join Sowers in double figures.
The Red Demons open the season 0-1 and will travel to Manhattan next Friday, Dec. 8.
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