Dodge City, KS (westernkansasnews.com) The Dodge City High School basketball teams had a lot on the line Thursday night in wrapping up the regular season with rival Liberal. For the girls they came in with the opportunity to win their 18th consecutive game in the conference and finish with a perfect 8-0 record in WAC for the second straight year.
The boys on the other hand were looking for their first conference championship since 2013. One year ago the Red Demons were on the verge of tying Garden City for the WAC championship when they lost in the final seconds to Liberal. For the Redskins it was their first win over Dodge City in seven years.
Unfortunately Liberal picked up right where they left off, but it was not without a fight.
Jessie Harshberger knocked down four trays and finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds on senior night as Dodge City swept WAC for the second straight year 47-35. Harshberger added three block shots. Kaylyn Maple dished out six assists for the Red Demons and Dodge’s defense forced 23 Redskins turnovers in the win.
Dodge City jumped out to a quick start of 12-4 and were able to hold on through the rest of the game to win 47-35 and match their win total of 15. This year’s squad finished 15-5 a full game better than their 15-7 mark from the previous year.
Ali Lucero led Liberal with 13 points. Tuesday she poured in 18 in a three point win over Garden City. Jada Mickens scored 13 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Liberal finishes their first regular season above .500 since 2010 with an 11-9 clip.
DCHS Coach Kelley Snodgrass Post-game comments
As for the boys in their first matchup with Liberal on January 15th a 13 point lead at half turned into a five point loss 47-42. The third quarter that night did in the Red Demons as the Redskins jumped out to a 20-4 run in a pivotal third quarter.
The run may not have been so big last night, but the third quarter pushed Liberal across the finish line for their first WAC title since 2008.
Tim Fitzgerald went a perfect 5-5 from beyond the arc and the fifty percent free throw shooter was ice late knocking down 6 of his eight shots from the line in sparking the win.
Kylan Thomas did his part for the Redskins scoring 12 points and adding nine rebounds.
The Demons trailed 22-21 at half and fell further behind as Liberal opened up the third quarter on a 12-0 run. Dodge City outscored Liberal the rest of the quarter 11-7.
In the fourth quarter Dodge City suffered two significant losses. One was when senior Bryce Unruh fouled out at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The other loss was when senior post player Noah Williams reaggreated an ankle injury he suffered a week and a half ago in the Garden City game with around three minutes to play.
Williams with five doubles-doubles on the year finished one rebound short of another one at 12 points and nine rebounds a game. His status for next week’s substate remains unclear. He will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Dodge City used the power of three to attempt a comeback from a double digit hole. Dayton McGroarty’s three brought the Red Demons to within five points at 48-43 with 4:54 left. Chris Baker’s three cut the deficit to two at 48-46 with 2:09 remaining and Eric Reid’s three tied the game at 49 with 1:16 to go.
Unfortunately the excitement was short-lived as Markaylyn Eatmon made a left handed layup with a little more than one minute left and the back and forth set the stage for Caden Walter’s missed three pointer at the buzzer that went high off the window from 25 feet out to seal the win for Liberal and their first WAC title since 2008.
DCHS Coach Dennis Hamilton Post-game Comments
Liberal after losing 12 straight in the rivalry with Dodge has now won three in a row including sweeping both games this season. The Redskins finished 15-5, 6-2 in conference. Dodge City falls to the number two seed in substate with a 10-10 record after Wichita South beat Wichita Northwest 68-66.
The Demon boys are scheduled to play Wichita West in the 2-7 matchup next Thursday from the Fieldhouse. The girls also have the number two seed and will play Haysville-Campus Wednesday. Expected tip times are set for 6 each night.