Hutchinson, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–Scott City knew that in Wednesday’s Class 3A State Tournament opener that they would have to dominate the glass. What they didn’t account for was a slow start. The Lady Beavers showed grit in their rallies, but never led in the game. Norton would hit enough free throws down the stretch to advance to Friday’s semi-final game with a 48-45 win over Scott City.
The Lady Beavers struggled shooting in the first eight minutes and got down early 9-0. Scott City would only hit one field goal out of 11 attempts in the first quarter, and trailed 13-3 after one period. They would rally in the second quarter on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 13 with 4:12 left in the first half. Norton would score the final seven points of the half to take a 20-13 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Lady Bluejays used a 10-4 run over the first five minutes to lead 30-17 with 3:08 left in the third quarter. Scott City (17-7) found a way to pull to within nine at 34-25 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter, but Norton scored the final points of the third quarter. Three free throws on a questionable foul call on the Lady Beavers near half court at then end of the third quarter pushed the Lady Bluejay lead to 39-25.
When it looked like it would be the end for Scott City, they battled back in a big way. They used a 14-2 run to pull to within 41-39 with 3:26 left. The Lady Beavers would battle back to within one on three occasions, with the last being at 46-45 with 21 seconds left. Norton (22-2) would miss both free throws, and tip the ball out of bounds, giving Scott City an opportunity to win with 10.3 seconds left. The Lady Beavers would drive, but would lose the ball out of bounce with three seconds left. Norton would hit two free throws to survive and advance with a 48-45 win.
Norton was led by Hadley Hauser and Taryn Kuhn each with 12 points and Tayli Hartwell added 10. The Lady Bluejays were 47% from the floor, and hit 19-30 free throws. Scott City was led by Emily Weathers with 15 points, Amber Latta with a career-high 13 points and Lyndi Rumford added 11. They were 19-40 from the floor for 48%, but hit just six of 15 free throws. Norton won the rebounding battle 28-20, and Scott City was called for 24 fouls to just 16 for Norton.
With the win Norton advances to Friday’s semi-final to face Royal Valley, who defeated Eureka 56-36. The Lady Bluejays improved to 12-9 in state tournament games all-time, and it was their first tournament win since 2001. This is their ninth tournament appearance, and they are now 7-2 in state tournament quarterfinal games. It was also Norton’s first win over the Lady Beavers in three games in the series. All games have been in postseason play. Scott City has dropped four straight tournament games, and are now 1-4 in state tournament play, and 1-2 in tournament openers.
Scott City will have won 17 games for a second consecutive year. They are also projected to return everyone back next year, with no seniors on the roster this year.
Sarah McCormick Postgame