The Dodge City Red Demons tried to fight back from a double-digit deficit, but wasn't able to complete the feat in losing to the Hutchinson Salthawks 52-46 in a Class 6A sub-state contest at Salthawk Arena.
Julian Sands led the fourth quarter drive by the Red Demons after the Salthawks led by 11 early in the fourth quarter. Sands scored five points as the deficit was cut down to 37-31 early in the third quarter, and then hit a three-pointer after the Salthawks converted from long distance.
"We just needed to open the court to take of the pressure and Julian did a good job of taking advantage of it," said Dodge City head coach Dennis Hamilton. "He's a kid who has been working hard at it with the injuries; not just the ankle, but battling shin problems the last two seasons."
The Red Demons couldn't keep their momentum going and Hutchinson was able to push the lead back up to 10 with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Dodge City made one final push with a lay-up by Jace Larson and a three-pointer by Sands to cut the deficit to three; but after Radley Arnold made a free throw, the Demons turned the ball over and Ryan Stoecklein hit a lay-up to close the scoring.
"Give our kids a lot of credit because it could have easily gone from 10 to 20, but we didn't give up," Hamilton said. "We were there, but things just didn't fall our way. We have to be proud of the kids battling back and taking it to the end."
Sands finished with 13 points — 11 in the final quarter — and seven rebounds to lead Dodge City (9-12). Larson added 10 points and five boards for the Red Demons, while Austin Weiser dealt with foul trouble throughout the game and scored seven. Dodge City shot only 9-of-28 in the second half in the loss.
Jezel Parra scored 15 points, grabbed seven boards and stole five passes to lead Hutchinson (11-10), while Braydon Wells added 12 and Stoecklein 10 in the win. The Salthawks scored 21 points off of Dodge City turnovers in the win.
The Red Demons scored nine of the first 11 points of the game before Hutchinson went on a 10-point run on the way to leading 14-11 after the opening quarter. The Salthawks scored eight of their points in the stanza off of Dodge City turnovers.
Hutchinson increased their lead to six midway through the second quarter before the Demons went to a 2-3 zone to slow down the home team. Dodge City was able to cut the deficit to two before a late lay-up gave the Salthawks a 22-18 lead at halftime.
"We got off to almost too good of a start," Hamilton said. "They were too easy and you knew it wasn't going to last with the way Hutchinson plays. They were playing very aggressive within the confines of the rules. It may have been a false sense of security, but we were able to dig back in with the zone and the trap."
Hutchinson will face Maize in a sub-state final. Maize beat Campus 57-43 in the other bracket contest.
DODGE CITY (46) — Julian Sands 13, Bryce Unruh 4, Austin Weiser 7, Jackson Oldham 5, Caden Walters 2, Jace Larson 10, Noah Williams 5. Totals 16 10-15 46.
HUTCHINSON (52) — Radley Arnold 3, Trent Webster 3, Braydon Wells 12, Jezel Parra 15, Ryan Stoecklein 10, Kalen Hilst 9. Totals 18 13-19 52.
Dodge City 11 7 8 20 — 46
Hutchinson 14 8 13 17 — 52
Three-point baskets — Dodge City 4 (Sands 2, Oldham 1, Larson 1), Hutchinson 3 (Webster 1, Wells 1, Hilst 1). Records – Dodge City 9-12, Hutchinson 11-10.