The Dodge City Red Demons have regained the aura that seemed to have been missing when they went away from their defensive pressure earlier in the month.
The Red Demons beat the Liberal Redskins 51-38 in a Western Athletic Conference battle at DCHS Fieldhouse, the second straight league game Dodge City has clamped on their opponents' defense.
"We're pretty solid defensively for the most part. When the score is low, we give ourselves a better chance," said DCHS head coach Dennis Hamilton. "I think our kids have also done a good job executing our offense, especially in the first half; and we did well at the boards tonight, outrebounding them by 12. Those are things you've got to do to compete for the WAC title."
Jace Larson had a double-double to lead the Red Demons (7-5, 3-1) to their seventh straight victory over the Redskins. Larson had 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his special game.
"It was most important to get the win, but it felt great to get the double-double," Larson said. "We got the win as a team. We have been pushing each other very hard and we have to keep the mindset every game of playing hard defense."
Hamilton said it was perhaps Larson's best game as a varsity player.
"Anybody who can get 15 rebounds and 15 points must be doing something well," Hamilton said. "He stepped up big and when things aren't clicking on all cylinders, you have to have someone put their team on their back. Jace did that for us (Tuesday night)."
Trenton Hammond scored 13 points to lead Liberal (3-11, 0-3).
The Red Demons pushed ahead 14-4 before five minutes of play and led 16-8 by the end of the first quarter. The two teams traded baskets for the early part of the second stanza, but Liberal didn't score another point in the final five minutes as Dodge City scored the final eight before intermission to build its biggest lead of the first half at 26-12.
Larson scored eight points and had seven boards to lead the Demons in scoring, while Hammond scored seven to lead Liberal. Dodge City made half of its 16 shots before intermission; while the Redskins were 6-of-23 from the field after 16 minutes of play.
Dodge City scored the first basket of the second half to extend the lead before Liberal was able to cut the deficit down to 11 late in the third quarter before the Demons pushed it back to 34-21 by the end of the period. Larson already had his double-double by the third period with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Liberal scored five of the first seven points in the final stanza to cut the margin to 10, but the Redskins couldn't get the margin any closer until a three-pointer by William Ross with two minutes left in regulation.
The Red Demons will travel to McPherson for a non-league battle against the Class 4A-ranked Bullpups. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
LIBERAL (38) – Aaron Green 1, Elmer Quintana 3, J.J. Lewis 6, Blake Stout 3, William Ross 6, Trenton Hammond 13, Britton Abbott 6. Totals 13 8-20 38.
DODGE CITY (51) – Rashaan Taylor 3, Jackson Oldham 2, Shaphan Gross 8, Austin Weiser 6, Jordan Doan 5, Kelan Newton 5, Jace Larson 15, Matt Goedeken 7. Totals 16 17-28 51.
Liberal84917 -- 38
Dodge City1610817 – 51
Three-point baskets – Liberal 4 (Quintana 1, Stout 1, Ross 2), Dodge City 2 (Taylor 1, Doan 1). Records – Liberal 3-11 (0-3), Dodge City 7-5 (3-1).