Hunting back-to-back region titles and national tournament tickets, the No. 7 Labette Cardinals thrashed the Hesston Larks 73-40 in the first round of the Region VI Tournament on Monday at home.
Labette led Hesston just 8-6 through a quarter before its offense finally picked up.
“The kids decided they wanted to play defense and rebound,” Labette head coach Mitch Rolls said. “When they do that, they’re a very dangerous team. Even though we weren’t scoring well in the first quarter, our defense really helped us stay in the game. Hopefully we can keep that up.”
Tamiah Robinson put together a complete game for the Cardinals, scoring 21 points, pulling down nine rebounds and registering seven steals.
“She was downhill all game,” Rolls said. “We want her to make plays. When she’s downhill, she can score and has great vision. She made some great passes. It’s always good to see her going downhill. And she rebounded well too.”
Nia Jordan nearly got a double-double herself with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Two other Cardinals — Jayla Smith and Willnie Joseph — grabbed nine boards for Labette.
“Willnie hasn’t played a whole lot this year,” Rolls said. “We send her out there to match up with size. Hesston has one of the best rebounders in the country. She did a great job on (Sydney Bontrager), holding her to eight rebounds. That was Willnie’s job and she made an impact on the game.”
Destiny Kessay led Hesston with 14 points. The Larks’ season ended with the loss. They finished with a 5-14 overall record.
Labette travels north to face No. 5 Kansas City Kansas in the region semifinals on Wednesday. The Cardinals dropped the first matchup to Kansas City Kansas this season.
“We’ve got to match their energy,” Rolls said. “They had more energy and played harder when we went up there and that’s what wins you games. For us to beat them, we have to match their energy and have a good game. It won’t be easy no matter what.”
NJCAA REGION VI TOURNAMENT
No. 7 Labette 73, Hesston 40
Labette: 8 23 20 22 — 73
Hesston: 6 13 5 16 — 40
Labette: Jayla Smith 4, Nia Jordan 16, Tamiah Robinson 21, Ariah Powell 13, Jordine Moody 7, Christionna Faison 6, Aminata Sangare 6
Hesston: Natalia Bochenek 7, Kirah Stepps 3, Sadie Svymbersky 4, Myley George 4, Aydan Everett 2, Destiny Kessay 14, Sydney Bontrager 6