The Dodge City Red Demons girls basketball team beat the Garden City Buffs by a score of 35-27 Tuesday night.
Both teams combined for just four points in the first quarter, but Dodge City came up strong late in part because of a strong second-half performance by freshman Kisa Unruh. She had a game-high 14 points.
Junior Caroline Williams had a team-high seven rebounds for the Lady Demons.
"(Williams) did a lot of good things," Lady Demons head coach Kelley Snodgrass said. "She got a few steals for us there defensively and then she sealed the deal with rebounds. She's very athletic and does some good things for us."
Each team started the game shooting horrifically. The Lady Buffs and the Lady Demons combined for a total of four points in the first quarter, ending it with a score tied at 2-2. Garden City was 1-11 from the field and 0 for 2 from the free-throw line. Dodge City was 1 of 5 from the field.
“It was pretty frustrating not being able to score,” Williams said. “None of our shots were falling but coach told us to come out with more intensity in the second quarter and we did.”
Snodgrass said the team talked about why that was.
“We weren’t on the same page, either offensively or defensively,” Snodgrass said. “We started a little different, and I just don’t think that we had a floor-leader out there communicating about what we were in.”
Turnovers were also a big reason for the slow start. Dodge City turned the ball over multiple times in the first couple of minutes, but Garden City was unable to capitalize, missing close shots of their own.
“Sometimes when the ball doesn’t go through the hoop, that’s what you get,” Snodgrass said about the slow first quarter. “But we’ve gotta take care of the ball a lot better than that and value possession.”
Junior Madison Armstrong opened the scoring in the second quarter, hitting the game’s first 3-pointer with 6:39 left, then a minute and a half later hitting another to give the Red Demons an 8-2 advantage and force Garden City to take a timeout.
After four quick points by Garden City cut the lead to 8-6, Dodge City freshman Breanna Gutierrez hit a big 3-pointer to give the Red Demons an 11-6 lead.
They took a 11-7 lead into the second half.
“I challenged ‘em to play to win and make things go our way, and I felt like they did,” Snodgrass said. “They got some big, huge stops defensively.”
One of the key players on defense was sophomore Chidera Okoro, who had two defensive rebounds for the Lady Demons but also had six points on offense.
Though the rebounding numbers did not necessarily reflect it, her defense often forced the player she was covering to pass the ball to another teammate Tuesday night.
Snodgrass noticed her efforts as well.
“Chidera did a great job for us defensively,” Snodgrass said. “She’s playing good basketball and then they stepped up towards the end and made free throws.”
Rebounds were another key statistic. The Red Demons out-rebounded the Buffs 33-28.
"We always talk about winning the battle of the boards, you know, we've gotta box out," Snodgrass said. "(Garden City) crashed hard, their guards really do rebound well. I felt like we didn't get the second-chance opportunities that we usually do, so hopefully we can crash more, but I was proud of how the girls did defensively and rebounding."
Okoro’s free throw near the end of Tuesday’s game proved to be the team’s final point of the night. She went two of four from the line.
Nobody, however, had a bigger night from the line than Unruh, the Dodge City freshman with 14 total points, all of which came in the second half.
Unruh hit 9 of 10 from the free-throw line Tuesday night.
That tied the number of makes by the entire Lady Buffs team combined.
It was a season-high for Unruh from the line, but also a season-high for an individual in a game Dodge City has played. No player, teammate or opponent, had made nine free-throws in a game this season either for or against the Lady Demons.
"Early on the shots didn't fall, but then towards the end she again attacked the rim and got to the free-throw line and made those free throws," Snodgrass said.
The Lady Demons are next in action when they host the Hays Lady Indians at 6 p.m. Friday night in the Dodge City Field House.
Garden City: 2, 5, 8, 12 - 27
Dodge City: 2, 9, 12, 12 - 35
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