Hodgeman County played hard and clearly gave a strong effort, but the South Central Timberwolves left no doubt which team would win when the teams met Monday in the 2019 SPIAA League Basketball Tournament.

The Timberwolves led by as many as 9 (with the score 11-2) in the first quarter, and 18-9 at the end of it. They outscored the Longhorns 17-0 in the second quarter, eventually winning 57-18.

They’ll play the Bucklin Red Aces Thursday at 6 p.m. The Timberwolves beat the Red Aces in Coldwater Jan. 8 56-38. Bucklin won an earlier Tournament game in nail-biting fashion over Ingalls Monday.

The Longhorns will play Spearville, who was upset by Kiowa County in the late game Monday, at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Hodgeman County freshman Grace Shiew had a team-high 4 points, matched by sophomore Colette Pelton who also had 4.

For South Central, senior Bri Rutherford had a game-high 20 points. Freshman Sierra Jellison had 11.

Despite the win, South Central head coach Tim Rietzke was far from happy.

“I know it sounds silly to say because we won by 30-some points, but I wasn’t impressed at all with our effort, our forcus, (our) energy,” Rietzke said. “I just told the players after the game ‘What I watched tonight won’t win the tournament.’ So either we’ll change, or we’ll play for third.”

The Timberwolves entered the tournament one of the favorites to contend for its title, but they’ll face another dangerous won in Bucklin Thursday.

“There’s four or five teams in our league this year that on any given night, if you don’t bring it, you’re susceptible to getting beat,” Rietzke said. “The other thing our kids seem to have a little trouble grasping is that (other teams are) getting tired of us winning the tournament and winning the league and these people are going to give us their best shot every night.”