Douglass topped Collegiate 52-47 to qualify for the first basketball state tournament in school history.
Sarah Hajdukovich knew she had to turn things around.
The junior who is always the first person off the bench for Douglass was having a rough game by her standards. She picked up three quick fouls in the first half and when she got back in, she missed 8 out of 9 free throw attempts in the second half.
But she never quit giving her best and the game turned around for her. She scored eight fourth quarter points and with 2 seconds left in the game, she buried two free throws to put the game away and seal a 52-47 win over Wichita Collegiate Saturday night.
“I knew I had to hit those free throws,” she said. “I had to calm down.”
She did calm down but it isn’t likely that the team will calm down until they finally get to play their first ever game in the state tournament Thursday in Hutchinson.
“We talked about keeping their guards in front of us tonight,” Coach Jason Wilson said. “We gave up some shots. That was something we were willing to give up – make them beat us from outside. Our girls fought tooth and nail. I am so proud of them.”
Rarely has there been a more deceptive record than Collegiate’s 3-16 record coming into the substate tournament. They had been struggling with injuries and the Lady Spartans play a very tough schedule.
After beating Independent and Conway Springs, all that stood between them and a state berth were the No. 1 seeded Lady Bulldogs.
Cashlyn Munroe, who finished with 13 points, got DHS off to a great start. She scored four straight to kept the score tied at 5-5 early in the first period. But after a Sara Dressler layup, Collegiate went on a run and finished the first quarter ahead 17-9.
But Munroe hit a three pointer and Maressah Milam hit four straight free throws to cut the lad to 17-16. Douglass retook the lead at 22-21 thanks to free throws by Klair Gibson.
A buzzer beater by Addison Root gave the Lady Spartans a 23-22 lead at halftime.
Gibson started the second half for her team by driving through three WCS defenders and hitting a running layup to give the Lady Bulldogs a lead in the third period.
Gibson used her distribution skills to set up the next two DHS baskets with passes to Dressler and Munroe. Munroe created her own shot on the next possession to extend the lead to 36-30 before finishing the third period up 36-34.
Collegiate came back to tie the game at 38-38 but Hajdukovich scored six straight Douglass points to make it 44-43.
At 48-47, Hajdukovich, who finished with nine points, picked up her fourth foul but Alex Payne missed both free throws.
Gibson got the ball and dribbled out more than 20 seconds before Milam was fouled with about 11 seconds to go in the game. Milam, who finished with 10 points, nailed both to give the Lady Bulldogs a 50-47 lead. Collegiate couldn’t score and Hajdukovich got the rebound and that was when she was fouled to set up the free throws to put the game away.
“After our Garden Plain and Cheney losses, the girls have really responded and now they know what it takes to get to the next level,” Wilson said. “These girls are writing a chapter of what Douglass basketball is going to be. This is our first state tournament and first substate championship and we are going to enjoy it.”
After starting the year on a long undefeated streak, Douglass lost three of four down the stretch. Wilson said his senior leaders are a big reason they were able to stop the struggling and qualify for state.
“They have kept us strong,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t trade this group of girls for anything in the world.”