Golden Plains girls headed back to Hays
By CONOR NICHOLL
GRAINFIELD – Rexford-Golden Plains senior guard Jordan Christensen was “ready to go” for the Class 1A Division II sub-state championship game against Triplains-Brewster since she woke up Saturday morning.
Golden Plains and Triplains-Brewster had met three times already this season. All three meetings had three-point margins, with the Bulldogs winning two contests. Golden Plains won at Triplains-Brewster, but Triplains-Brewster earned the league tournament title against the Bulldogs. Then, Golden Plains beat the Titans in Rexford in overtime.
Christensen, senior Hailee Spresser and sophomore guard Kami Miller led the way as the Bulldogs collected a 47-34 victory against Triplains-Brewster at Wheatland-Grinnell High School. Golden Plains defeated the Titans in the sub-state for the second straight season. Last year, the Bulldogs took third in Class 1A Division II. Tournament play starts Wednesday at Fort Hays State University.
“It’s just awesome to go two years in a row, senior year,” Christensen said. “We wanted it so bad from the very beginning.”
Golden Plains improved to 20-3, while Triplains-Brewster finished the season 18-5. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 in the classification and first in the sub-state, while the Titans were fifth in the state poll and second in the sub-state.
“The girls are happy,” coach Parker Christensen said. “I am proud of them, and happy for them, but we are not finished. We would like to stay all three days.”
Winona-Triplains and Triplains-Brewster — which started to co-op in fall and winter sports a few years ago — have never reached the state girls’ basketball tournament. The Titans wore some smiles in the on-court photos, but showed emotions in the locker room.
“They were really disappointed, the girls,” coach Kent Gfeller said. “They didn’t show it in the picture, but we were in this spot last year. We really didn’t expect to win. This year, we expected. We thought we had it.”
Spresser finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, including seven boards in the third quarter when Golden Plains turned a 22-21 halftime edge into a 38-25 lead entering the final quarter.
“It was really one of our goals to knock them off, and we did,” Spresser said. “They took the league tournament from us, and we were not going to let them get the sub-state.”
Christensen scored eight first-quarter points as Golden Plains led 10-7 after the first eight minutes. She finished with 15 points, four rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
“It kind of kept us going until the rest of us kind of settled in a little bit,” coach Christensen said.
The 5-foot-6 Miller did a superb job on the 5-foot-7 Rogge, who averages 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest. Rogge finished with a season-low four points on 2 of 9 shooting.
Miller consistently denied Rogge the ball. Rogge collected her fourth foul with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third quarter and sat the reminder of the quarter. With Rogge on the bench, Golden Plains went on a 7-2 run.
“We didn’t score enough points,” Gfeller said. “We normally win when we give up that many points. We did OK on defense. Offensively, we just totally fell apart. When Shayna gets in foul trouble, then we were in trouble. (Miller) does a real good job of playing defense. (Rogge) isn’t selfish enough. She needs to take the ball to the basket and shoot more.”
Triplains-Brewster junior Alicia Barrie, who averages five points and hit 8 of 29 treys entering the contest, made a pair of first-half 3s. She finished with 10 points, while senior Brittany Plummer added 11, seven before halftime. Plummer hit exactly 1,000 career points with an 18-point effort in a 73-52 first round win against Almena-Northern Valley.
“Some girls that maybe don’t hit shots all the time for them were,” coach Christensen said. “We just tried to survive until we could get a little run. I changed defenses to zone finally. Sometimes you throw that zone out and (offenses think) “I can’t penetrate anymore.” That helped on the Plummer girl for sure.”
In the third quarter, Spresser’s rebounding helped Golden Plains score often on second and third opportunities. Golden Plains bumped the lead to 36-25 with 1:23 left in the quarter when a Spresser offensive rebound led to a Christensen 3. Then, another Spresser offensive rebound produced a Miller jumper for the quarter’s final points.
“I really have worked on boxing out, and I think that has helped me a lot,” Spresser said.
Triplains-Brewster never came closer than nine points in the final quarter. With about half a minute left, Miller pumped her fists several times on the court in celebration. With six seconds to go, Christensen exited the game, and wearing a big smile, high-fived and hugged teammates. Afterward, she had some tears of joy.
“I knew we were going to get it,” Christensen said. “We came ready to play. We just did it.”
Golden Plains 47, Triplains-Brewster 34
Golden Plains 10 12 16 9 – 47
Triplains-Brewster 10 11 4 9 – 34
Golden Plains – Miller 3, Hailee Spresser 19, Walz 4, Jordan Christensen 15, Lobato 6.
Triplains-Brewster – K. Lamb 1, Alicia Barrie 10, Rogge 4, Roulier 8, Brittany Plummer 11.