The Dodge City Lady Demons started Friday night with a narrow win over the Cimarron Lady Jays, winning 36-34.
Every point counted, and early on, Cimarron got most of them.
Dodge City scored the opening basket, but after that Cimarron scored six straight points to end the first quarter.
Dodge City only scored two points in the first, which made it their lowest scoring quarter of the season so far. The fewest points the team had scored in a quarter prior to that had been the fourth quarter of their second game of the season, against defending 6A state champion Manhattan.
Head coach Kelley Snodgrass said she told the girls after the first quarter to just play their game.
“(I told them) just to trust what we do,” Snodgrass said. “We kind of came out slow against Guymon as well. I think it’s a lot of nerves. We’re young, and so I think a lot of it is nerves. And we didn’t hit a couple of shots early, it’s a tough atmosphere to play in, so our first couple shots weren’t what we’re used to and we kind of I think panicked a little bit.”
The team played better in the second.
Freshman Kisa Unruh, hit back-to-back 3’s to give the Lady Demons the lead at 8-6. Overall, the Lady Demons opened the second quarter on a 12-3 run on the way to outscoring Cimarron 15-8 in the second.
They led at halftime 17-14.
In the third and fourth quarters, Cimarron fought back, taking the lead at various points through both quarters.
The Red Demons trailed by a point in the waning seconds of the third quarter, but junior Rachel Garcia made two key free throws to give them the lead going into the fourth.
Overall, Garcia hit all four free throws she attempted Friday night.
Despite the close score when she went to the line, Garcia said she didn’t feel any pressure.
“We practice free throws every day and so I didn’t think about it, I was just like ‘It’s in, it’s always in,’” Garcia said. “I had confidence.”
The game took place in United Wireless Arena. Despite it being in Dodge City, the difference between playing in it as opposed to playing in the Dodge City High School Field House essentially made it a neutral-court, Snodgrass said.
“It’s supposed to be at home, but it’s not a home court,” Snodgrass said. “That neutral setting and the backdrops and the open area, (and) Cimarron travels great, they always have a great fan section.”
Still, Garcia said the hardest part of the game was probably the way Cimarron played. They were very aggressive, so the team just tried to play its best defense.
The back-and-forth battle battle continued into late in the fourth quarter. Unruh, the team’s leading scorer this season, had 10 points in the first half but was held scoreless in the second half until very late.
Her lone second-half points came at the perfect time for the Demons.
Down 33-31 late, Unruh hit a 3-pointer to put the Demons up 34-33. A free throw by Cimarron tied the game at 34-34 shortly after her shot.
On the next play, junior Madison Armstrong, the team’s season-leader in assists, got a chance to benefit from one.
Unruh took a pass from Armstrong just across half-court and dribbled toward the 3-point line about midway between center-court and the corner. As she did, Armstrong cut around under the basket, popping out suddenly just inside the 3-point line on the opposite side of the court from Unruh.
Unruh hit Armstrong with a pass, and she drained the two-pointer, which ended up standing as the final score: 36-34.
“Madi’s a great floor-leader, and she has the confidence to hit those big shots,” Snodgrass said. “Kisa had a rough night, but I knew the next one was gonna go, so we kind of talked to them about working well together and they know they’ve gotta get it done and they both stepped up and hit big shots for us and worked well.”
Boys team dominates
The boys game between the Red Demons and the Bluejays was not nearly as dramatic.
The Red Demons led from start to finish, never trailing. They led 26-10 at the end of the first quarter, 44-26 at halftime, and 66-40 at the end of the third before winning by a score of 85-44.
Senior Hunter Heath had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Head coach Tony Starnes said the team is improving.
“We’re getting better,” Starnes said. “We’re not gonna challenge the Lakers anytime soon but we’re getting better. This is the time of year when you need to be progressing because you’re coming up on league-play, and you’re gonna be scouted and everyone’s gonna know your stuff, and we’ve gotta to be kind of rollin.”
Heath was far from the only contributor statistically Friday. Junior Noah Sowers had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. Both did well, and both a good players, Starnes said, but there were also a lot of other players who played well.
“I thought Beau Foster did some things, made some stuff happen,” Starnes said. “I thought Kaden Riekenberg really had a good game from just a maybe trained-eye mentality, I was just noticing little things that he was doing and so on. I thought Adrian Mendoza did a good job coming in. A guy that came in and gave us some good, solid minutes is Rameses Vela. He didn’t play a ton but he came in and gave us some really good, solid minutes, hit a 3 and did a good job for us.”
The Red Demons boys and girls basketball teams head to Liberal to take on the Redskins next Friday, then take on Guymon the next day.