Determination and a never quit attitude kept the Dodge City High School Red Demons close to the Campus Colts in the first two quarters of play in the opening round of sub state play Wednesday night, but the Colts prevailed with a strong second half and took a 73-44 win over the Demons in their last game of the season.
The Demons scored first and kept a small lead for about half the first quarter before Campus went on a 5 point run then worked into a 23-13 lead at the end of the first.
The Demons stepped up the defense in the second and played the Colts even with both teams scoring 10 each in the second.
But in the third, the Colts went on a 13-0 run and kept applying pressure on both ends of the court.
Leading the scoring for the Demons were John Johnson who had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Dylan Smith had 13 points, his best game of the season.
Dawson Taylor had a good night from the line with Shannen Barajas, Cooper Lowell and Cooper Scheck adding points. Everyone got minutes in the game.
The Demons finished their season 4-17.
A No. 16 going up against a No. 1 is a big task but Red Demons coach Tony Starnes said he was extremely proud of how hard the team played and competed.
"We just played as hard as we could and competed for every possession," Starnes said. "We tried to play free and loose."
Starnes said he wanted the kids to battle and compete. They were working hard in the first half and shot the ball well.
In a game like this, Starnes wanted the team to take it as a learning situation.
"We played hard and we'll point to this when times get hard. It proves you can play hard," Starnes said. "I hope they gained from this."
At the beginning of the game, the team was hitting shots and changing positions to confuse the Colts.
Once again, senior John Johnson was a team leader both on and off the floor.
Although he is just a sophomore, Cooper Scheck is one of the biggest team leaders and the kids really respect him.
He puts in the practice time to get that way and has helped the other guys develop the whole year.
Other guys are learning how to step into leadership roles as well.
Shannen Barajas, Aidan Sowers, Dawson Taylor, Dylan Smith and Tyler Cox are learning and are really excited about where the team could go.
"Player wise and leader wise, they are very capable," Starnes said.
This is a very young team with just two seniors, no juniors, eight sophomores and two freshmen.
Starnes said he wanted the team to understand that even though they are young, they are going to get better. But to do that, they have to go out and get it done.
Next year, the team won't be so young and expectations will be higher.
"They are maturing and growing and getting better," Starnes said.
For a team to play hard, they have to be disciplined and willing to be disciplined.
If the team thinks they know it all, they will be humbled quickly. But this team is coachable.
Starnes said he doesn't handle losing well. He wants his team to understand when they compete, they should always compete to win. But if they lose, done wallow in it.
"I don't think you can be satisfied with not being successful. They put that scoreboard up there for a reason. When you lose, you should feel angst and when you win, you should feel happy," Starnes said.
Starnes said he likes to give his coaching staff of D'yonne Luke, Taylor Doan, Chris Chilton and John Johnson Sr. a lot of say in the coaching style and they are a great staff to work with.
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