Atchison proves too much for Tonganoxie at substate
The rims inside Tonganoxie's Phil Lobb gymnasium were about as warm as the recent winter storm for the host Chieftains last Wednesday.
Playing No. 5 Atchison in a Class 4A girls substate quarterfinal game, No. 2 Tonganoxie opened the game shooting a dismal 2-of-15 from the field in the first quarter.
The visitors fared a bit better, making 6-of-11 shots as they built a 12-5 cushion after the first quarter.
Tonganoxie shook a bit of the frost off the ball as the game progressed, climbing back to within five at one point. But after hitting the locker rooms with a nine-point deficit, the Chieftains couldn't stop Atchison in the final quarter and lost by the same margin, 44-35. Tonganoxie finished the season 10-11, while Atchison advanced with a 6-15 record.
The Chieftains actually opened the season with a convincing 53-39 win against Atchison in its preseason tournament. The quicker Chieftains frustrated the more physical Redmen in that contest, but Atchison roughed up Tonganoxie on Wednesday with a 2-3 zone that caused the Chieftains problems most of the evening.
"We made shots the first game and did a better job of attacking that first game," Tonganoxie coach Randy Kraft said.
The first-year Tonganoxie coach knew Atchison had improved. In a midseason tournament, AHS led Bonner Springs by five. The Braves are 15-5 going into their 5A substate tournament.
The Chieftains finished shooting 29 percent from the field, making 15 of 51 shots. Throw in a 2-for-10 mark from the free throw line, and the performance spelled an early exit from the postseason.
Atchison found its most production from the charity line, making 12-of-22 shots.
Tonganoxie did make a run after the half, limiting Atchison to four points in the third. The Chieftains trailed 28-23 going into the fourth, but Tonganoxie hit another cold spell in the final stanza. Atchison went on a 5-0 run before Tonganoxie's Sara Holliday took a half-court pass from Addie Heim and scored with 5:35 left in the game. The play looked like a possible spark, but Tonganoxie couldn't make another run and fell victim to the upset.
"Things change when you get to substate because it doesn't matter what your record was, it's about who wants it more," said junior Kelly Breuer, who led Tonganoxie with 10 points.
The Chieftains failed to win a substate game for the second consecutive season, but considering Tonganoxie returned no starters from the previous season, Kraft was satisfied with his first year at THS.
THS was picked to finish ninth in the Kaw Valley League out of 10 teams, but finished fifth overall. Tonganoxie also handed league champion Immaculata its only loss of the year in league play.
"With not even returning a starter, it was a fresh start for all of us," Kraft said. "With a lot of sophomores and juniors returning, that bodes well for the next year and the year after."
Tonganoxie graduates two varsity seniors -- Jennifer Reischman and Laura Korb.
Atchison 12 12 4 16 -- 44
Tonganoxie 5 10 8 12 -- 35
Atchison (6-15): Rudy Crittendon 7, Sarah Berger 7, Brandy Gray 6, Lauren Smith 12, Tabetha Locke 2, Katie Tacy 9, Diamond Anthony 1. Totals: 16(2)-10-44.
Tonganoxie (10-11): Michelle McWilliams 1, Addie Heim 4, Madison Weller 8, Katie Jeannin 5, Kelly Breuer 10, Jennifer Reischman 3, Sarah Holliday 4. Totals: 15(3)-2-35