Lauren Forbes delivered a career-high 18 points and the Labette County Grizzlies are going back to the KSHSAA 4A State Tournament for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
Labette County ousted the Chanute Blue Comets 58-44 in Saturday’s Class 4A Sub-State title game.
“I said all along this group is special,” Labette County head coach Kristi Snider said. “They’re unique in so many ways. They’re resilient, play well together and aren’t selfish. They fight and get after it. These kids have matured in the past year and I’m really proud of them.”
Chanute head coach Dustin Fox felt the Grizzlies’ interior presence wore them down as the game dragged on.
“Labette County did what they do,” Fox said. “They had a lot of kids step up, make big plays. We really struggled to contain them inside and struggled to rebound. That’s where they won the game.”
Forbes’ career-high gave a spark to the Grizzlies offense. Nine of her 18 points came on three 3-pointers in the third quarter.
“It was our intensity,” Snider said. “Lauren Forbes hit some big shots and had a career high. That helped our whole situation offensively.”
Kori Babock, a senior for Chanute, led her team with 20 points.
“That’s one of the best players in Chanute history doing everything she could to not let her career end,” Fox said. “She was aggressive. I couldn’t ask any more from her.”
Madison Brannin, playing through an ankle injury, added 16 points for Labette County.
“She’s got a sprained ankle and that scared her a bit,” Snider said. “She had some adrenaline in the beginning that probably affected her shot. But she really settled in and stepped up.”
Labette County and Chanute, SEK League rivals, faced off three times this year with the Grizzlies taking all three victories.
“Snider has done a tremendous job with that program and they have a long history of success,” Fox said. “Those kids expect to win league titles and go to state. That’s something we’re building at Chanute. It’s a process. But our kids know we can get there. Labette County is the standard and we’ll work to get on that level.”
The Blue Comets’ season ends with a 15-7 overall record.
“This year has had more challenges than any other year, and every coach would say that due to the circumstances we’re dealing with in the world,” Fox said. “But our girls have never stopped battling. You saw that tonight even when the game got away from us.”
Babcock is one of three seniors graduating that Fox will have to replace next winter.
“We understand that we don’t have a scorer like Kori has been,” Fox said. “But we have a lot of depth in our freshmen and sophomores. Those girls excel in their roles.”
As for the Grizzlies, they’ll face Louisburg at home on Tuesday in the quarterfinal of the state tournament — KSHSAA will only bring the final four teams to the state site due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Following the precedent Labette County’s volleyball program set in the fall, the Grizzlies get a chance to play a state tournament game on its home floor.
“That’s a great thing,” Snider said. “For the kids to play in front of a home crowd will be great. It’s been a unique year. I’m just excited.”
It’s an opportunity, according to Forbes, her squad has earned.
“We clicked today. We had good ball movement and got some wide open shots. I’m just ready for state. I’m glad we did this for our seniors. They deserve it,” Forbes said.=
CLASS 4A SUB-STATE
Labette County 58, Chanute 44
Labette Co.: 6 17 22 13 — 58
Chanute: 4 15 15 10 — 44
Labette County: Karysn Stewart 3, Lauren Forbes 18, Jasmine Perez 1, Shelbi Wilson 6, Anna Dean 7, Madison Brannin 16, Elsie Sorrell 7
Chanute: Brionna Waggoner 3, Kori Babcock 20, Mattilyn Cranor 7, Tyra Bogle 14