It’s not easy to dominate a game when opponents have the same style, so it comes down to who executes better to decide a winner.
That was the case in the Dodge City-Maize Class 6A sub-state game Wednesday night with the Red Demons being able to make the plays when it counted in a 43-36 victory over the visiting Eagles at the DCHS Fieldhouse.
The Red Demons scored nine straight points after the Eagles cut its deficit to one early in the fourth quarter with a combination of transition play and rebounding. Dodge City made four of its five shots in the stanza and seven of 12 at the free throw line to record the win.
Matt Goedeken scored 12 points, Jace Larson 11 points and Shaphan Gross scored seven of his nine points in the final stanza and also grabbed 13 rebounds in the victory.
“I thought our kids played extremely hard and with high energy,” said DCHS head coach Dennis Hamilton. “We knew we were in for a game. Shaphan struggled early, but his 13 rebounds and hard play in the fourth quarter made up for his struggles.”
The Eagles (8-13) had won four of their last five games going into Wednesday night’s contest. Tavon Morrow, Maize’s leading scorer, scored only six points as he was in foul trouble for most of the game. Connor Lungwitz scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Eagles.
“We mixed and matched our defense more than any game this year. We spotted a lot of different defenses and it seemed to work tonight,” Hamilton said. “Our zone was able to slow them down.”
The Red Demons (13-7) scored the first nine points of the game, but made only one more basket. Maize quickly came back with their pressure and attacking of the board score the last 14 points of the stanza to take a 16-11 lead after the opening quarter. Maize hit seven of its last nine shots to gain the lead.
Dodge City used its defensive pressure to slow down the Eagles in the second quarter. Maize scored only one field goal while the Demons scored seven points off of turnovers and four more on second chances in the stanza to build a 24-18 lead at halftime.
Goedeken and Larson scored nine points apiece to lead the Demons in scoring, while Shaphan Gross grabbed nine boards (five offensive). Lungwitz scored eight points to lead the Eagles before intermission.
The Demons made only one field goal in the third quarter while Maize made four of its eight shots to cut the margin to 28-26 going into the final stanza. Maize got the game as close as 30-29 early in the final quarter, but Dodge City went on its run to pull away to seal the victory.
Dodge City will face Garden City in a sub-state final game Friday night at The New Garden. The Buffaloes beat Wichita South in another first-round contest.
“We’ve met a lot ofchallenges this season,” Hamilton said. “I believe our kids will show up Friday night.