After being knocked off by No. 8 seeded Kiowa County earlier this week the Spearville Lancers girls basketball team ended their stay in the 2019 SPIAA League Basketball Tournament with a win Thursday, beating the Hodgeman County Longhorns 43-37.

The Lancers led 17-5 at the end of the first, but Hodgeman County continued to fight, and Spearville made plenty of mistakes, the combination of which allowed Hodgeman County to climb back into the game.

“I thought we jumped out 17-5 at the end of the first quarter and we were playing with good energy, good activity and good effort,” Lancer coach Andrew Kempke said. “Sometimes when you’re a good team and you’re playing a team maybe that isn’t as talented as you but is scrappy, that you you kind of start to believe that ‘Hey we don’t have to play hard,’ and that’s exactly what we did today.”

Outside of about the first three or four minutes, Kempke said the team didn’t really believe they had to go out and play hard.

Part of Thursday might have been because the team was dealing with some hangover from having lost earlier in the week, negating their chance to play for what they wanted to.

“It just was a tough one, and Hodgeman did a great job,” Kempke said. “Hodgeman came out and fought and fought and fought. They’re a team that traditionally always plays man (defense) no matter what and came out and played zone, so we didn’t really see that coming.”

The Longhorns had played the South Central Timberwolves in man-to-man almost the entire game, Kemkpe said, so he expected to see them do the same against the Lancers.

That didn’t happen.

“I really didn’t think they would change anything up, and they obviously did, so they threw us a little bit of a curve ball but we just didn’t really respond very well to it,” Kemkpe said. “We got a couple of shots to fall early, we hit three 3s in the first quarter and then from there we just didn’t feel like we needed to play with any type of effort, any type of attitude, any type of energy.”

Kemkpe said give Hodgeman County a lot of credit for what they did.

“They were the reason that we played that way because they didn’t make it easy on us,” Kempke said. “Sometimes when things aren’t easy for us, instead of rising up we have a tendency to kind of not rise to the occasion. We just don’t end up rising as high as I would like us to, not meeting that challenge.”

The Lancers came into the tournament undefeated. Now, they leave it with a loss and a narrow victory, and will need to regroup fast as February nears.

“It’s just one of those things that we just have got to find what we had early, because we had pretty good mojo going early on in the year,” Kempke said.

The team won the Larned tournament and won against South Gray, Meade and Kiowa County and got wins.

“To be really honest after that I think we got a little complacent because we were playing well, so work ethic kind of went away in practice a little bit, and that goes on me, that’s my job to make sure that stays (present),” Kemkpe said. “I’ve got to find a way to get us back to having that good work ethic in practice, (have) got to find us a way to get us back wanting to work hard, wanting to not just be given something, having that want to go out and fight for something. That’s what we’ve got to go out find. That’s how we’ve got to regroup. And it’s got to be a group thing. It can’t be a ‘you five’ thing. It’s got to be everybody involved. I don’t know if we really played with everybody involved today.”