Seeing a team multiple times in a season can prove difficult for both sides, no matter the time of year or team records.
The Douglass and Bluestem boys basketball teams played each other for the fourth time this season Monday night to start the Eureka sub-state tournament. It took a solid effort from the Bulldogs to win their final home game after they beat the Lions 64-50 to advance to the second round and end the Lions’ season.
The Lions, in no way, made things easy for the Bulldogs. John Stiger hit two early 3-pointers, and the Lions looked like they might get into a shootout with the Bulldogs. Stiger finished with 18 points to lead the Lions
“Give Bluestem a lot of credit. They came in, they competed, they were upset-minded,” Douglass coach Ty Unrau said.
Cody Holthaus proved to be the difference maker for the Bulldogs. Holthaus, who has expanded his game all season to work from both the inside and outside, scored a game-high 21 points. He drained a couple 3-pointers early, but got plenty of good looks in the paint and scored inside.
“I’ve tried to focus on getting it inside, working it around, work the offense, not trying to force anything,” Holthaus said. “Just work with the team and what comes to me, I’ll take.”
Bluestem trailed 18-11 after the first quarter and 31-21 at halftime after Drew Chadic hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the Bulldogs.
But the Lions could have been a lot closer had a few of their bunny shots dropped in. They relentlessly attacked the basket behind Cooper Minnick’s playmaking abilities. He finished with 14 points.
“They have the guard play. Minnick is able to go for 30 any night, especially when Stiger is hitting shots like that,” Unrau said of the Lions.
Holthaus closed the third quarter with a three-point play to give Douglass a 50-32 lead going into the final quarter. The Lions scored the first eight points of the third quarter to cut it to 50-40, but the Bulldogs’ defense locked down the rest of the way to coast to the win.
Looking forward, the Bulldogs will play Conway Springs, which pulled off a major upset of Wichita Independent Monday night. Unrau said the Bulldogs will need to play good defense against the Cardinals, who have the leading scorer in the Central Plains League.
“Our defense needs to lead to our offense,” Unrau said. “We can be a very good team in transition on offense when we’re finishing plays. I didn’t think tonigh we ever got our transition game going because we weren’t getting stops on defense. They were getting too many easy buckets,” Unrau said of the Bulldogs going forward in sub-state.
Lady Bulldogs oust Lions to start playoffs
Coach Jason Wilson was only concerned with one thing Monday night, and that was the Bulldogs executing their game plan.
Douglass got off to a big 20-0 lead and never looked back on way to a 51-13 win.
“We talked to them about playing for 32 minutes, because you take away the record once you get to postseason. And I credit coach [Brian] Gommez a lot of credit, because those girls fight hard and play hard for 32 minutes,” Wilson said.
The Bulldogs finished with 23 points in the first quarter, eight of which came from field goals. Doulgass outscored Bluestem 11-4 in the second quarter, and the starters eventually stayed on the bench in the fourth quarter.
Wilson said he will watch Eureka play Fredonia, two teams with records around .500, tonight to scout Douglass’ next opponent. The Bulldogs will have to play two games in two days to get through sub-state, but Wilson feels the team is prepared for it. They have a deep bench and a lot of scorers.
“We don’t just have that one kid who is scoring all our points,” Wilson said. “Our top six scorers are all over 120 points on the year.”
That proved consistent with the Bulldogs’ performance Monday against Bluestem. Sara Dressler and Sarah Hadjukovich led Douglass with nine points each. Klair Gibson hit two 3-pointers finished with eight points. Cashlyn Munroe and Maressah Milum both scored eight points, as well. Sam O’Neill and Bayley Nispel both added three points apiece. Naomi Bader scored two and Sarah Veesart added one point.
Kaitlin Jurging netted two 3-pointers to lead Bluestem with six points. Michaela Korte, Jordan Stiger and Miranda Harrison all scored two points for the Lions. Danielle Chilcott added one.
Moving forward, both Douglass coaches are stressing to their seniors to put everything they have on the court every game.
“At this time of the season, you don’t know when the last time you will put your jersey on,” Wilson said.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Unrau said. “Don’t look back 10 from now or 20 years from now and say ‘I wish I would’ve done more,’” Unrau said.