CLAFLIN — Playing in just its fifth game since Feb. 1 due to weather and quarantine, the St. Paul Indians fell to the Central Plains Oilers 51-32 in the quarterfinals of the KSHSAA 1A-II State Tournament.
Central Plains dominated the first half, taking a 24-8 advantage to the locker room.
“I told a few people the second half was what I wished for and the first half was what I feared,” St. Paul head coach Doug Tuck said. “Central Plains won state in volleyball in the fall. That, with all the tradition they’ve had in basketball, they understand it all. They do a good job of getting after you right off the bat. It took us a half to regroup.”
Brynna Hammeke of Central Plains delivered a 30-point night for the Oilers.
“Her skills with the ball are so good,” Tuck said. “More impressive than the 30 was how she controlled the game. She knows how to drive, kick it out and she probably passed up a few shots to get everybody involved. She creates easy shots for herself on the defensive end.”
Josey Harris, who established herself as St. Paul’s best scoring threat in the back part of the campaign, led the Indians with 16 points.
“She’s probably one of our most improved players,” Tuck said. “Before Christmas, she wasn’t confident with her shots. Since Christmas, she’s gained that confidence. She got more aggressive and more assertive. I’m happy she’s using her athleticism to create offense for herself.”
Central Plains advances to the state semifinals in Barton where it’ll take on top-seeded Golden Plains. St. John’s-Tipton and Cunningham face off in the opposite semifinal.
As for St. Paul, it finished the year with a 14-4 overall record.
“It was a weird season and it’s one that everybody will remember, even if they don’t care to,” Tuck said. “We were fortunate up until February not be quarantined ourselves. Then we get quarantined right before we had the bad weather. Our girls were young but they worked through it all. They did a very good job of working every day to get themselves better. That paid off with an opportunity to play at state.”
KSHSAA 1A-II STATE TOURNAMENT
Central Plains 51, St. Paul 32
St. Paul: 4 4 11 13 — 32
Central Plains: 12 12 14 13 — 51
St. Paul: Elise Doherty 6, Josey Harris 16, Chloe Seme 2, Claire Bradshaw 4, Emerald Struthers 4
Central Plains: Brynna Hammeke 30, Nixon 8, Lexi Oeser 3, Jeffrey 10