By ISAAC DEER
PERRY – Despite a closely contested opening quarter, Rossville crushed Jefferson West for the next three quarters in its Class 3A sub-state semifinal, resulting in a 60-32 romp on Thursday night.
Rossville (16-6) is playing its best basketball at the right time. In the opening round of the 3A sub-state, the Dawgs outmatched Perry-Lecompton 61-14 three days ago. After Thursday's win, Rossville has outscored the first two opponents in the postseason, 121-46.
Rossville was tenacious on defense, explosive on offense, and easily flew around against Jefferson West (6-16) at Perry-Lecompton. The Dawgs are on a streak of executing each phase of the game and are ready for the challenges ahead.
"We are happy for the win," Rossville coach Michael Bell said. "Jeff West is a gritty team, and they played us hard. Overall, it was a great win. The first quarter was close, but we kept building a lead after that. I thought our girls played hard. I didn't think we shot it very well, and I don't think we did a great job rebounding or blocking out well. It's one game at a time, but I'm happy we won."
Rossville had four double-digit scorers against Jefferson West. Junior Kinsey Perine had a game-high 15 points, while junior Katie Spielman had 14. Junior Emma Mitchell and freshman Rylee Dick each had 12-point nights.
Rossville didn't get off to the fastest start in the opening quarter but ended it with a bang.
Significant players like Dick and sophomore Shyanne Haehn got into foul trouble early on. Midway through the first quarter, Dick and Haehn accumulated a pair of fouls each, making Rossville tone down its aggressiveness.
The fouls on two key players didn't help Rossville, but the Dawgs got immense support from the team in the opening quarter.
Perine contributed with a spark and had a team-high in points (5) in the first quarter. Defensively, Perine racked up three steals and a block.
The final pair of possessions to close out the quarter was all Perine. First, Perine threw it off a Jefferson West player's back on the inbound pass and put in an easy, uncontested layup. Then, Perine would close out the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-point dagger.
"I just realized we needed to get it going," Perine said. "We started out tired in the beginning. I was just trying to get some energy with us, and I think it worked because we went on a roll after that."
Rossville took its late momentum from the first quarter and slammed on the gas to break away with a significant 16-point lead before going to the halftime break.
The Dawgs looked like a completely different team in the second quarter. Rossville outscored Jefferson West 23-10. Mitchell caught fire with the hot hand leading the Dawgs in scoring in the quarter with six points.
Defensively, Rossville was flying around. Jefferson West coughed up the ball 16 total times before the quarter ended, helping Rossville earn quality points off turnovers.
"We just settled down," Bell said. "We had a great student section behind us, and our girls might have been a little too hyped to start the game. So I think it took four, five, six minutes during the game to settle down. I also think we did a better job in our press. In the first quarter, I thought Jeff West did a good job of handling our press. Then, in the second quarter, we got some easy layups and stuff."
Perine was a significant factor in the defense's success. The junior guard had five steals and a block before halftime. Dick, Mitchell, Spielman, Haehn and junior Kinley Porter were brick walls in the Tiger passing lanes.
"We were flying around," Bell said. "There were a lot of people on the floor. There were a lot of scratches and bruises, I'm sure. But I was really happy with the way we played on defense. We played hard for four quarters, and that's what it will take. Each game, you have to play hard for four quarters."
Rossville quickly expanded its 37-21 lead from halftime in the third quarter, and the defense hushed the Tigers.
Spielman opened up the third quarter in the low block with several impressive blocks against the Tigers. Spielman swatted a ball so hard that it knocked the wind out of Jefferson West's tiger mascot in the student section. Spielman ended the quarter with three blocks.
Spielman, who stands 5-foot-11, had to match up with Verlee Sanders of Jefferson West, who is 6-foot tall with a significant wingspan. Spielman was able to swat two of Sanders' shots down in the painted area.
"(Sanders) was definitely good down low," Spielman said. "It took a lot to do what I needed to do. I'd say my third quarters are usually my best. Usually, when I come out of halftime, I realize I need to kick it into gear. My teammates helped a lot with what I needed to do."
With a sizable 50-27 lead to end the third quarter, Rossville would gain a running clock midway through the fourth quarter.
"I think team chemistry is a big thing," Spielman said. "I think our team has amazing team chemistry. In the end, we are able to help each other out when we need each other the most. If someone makes a mistake, we pick each other up."
On Saturday, they have an extremely tough task when they take on its 24 Highway foe, Silver Lake, for a bid at the Class 3A state tournament. But Rossville's recent play may wipe out the memory of its two losses against Silver Lake this year.
"We all have goals, and our next goal is to be sub-state champs," Bell said. "The biggest adjustment is that we won't let (Silver Lake) start the game out in front 16-0. We are going to have to take every possession very crucially and respect the ball. We have to make sure we get a good shot every time. Top to bottom, Silver Lake is loaded.
"(Makenzie) McDaniel had 29 (points) against us the last time, so we are going to have to try and keep her away from that. We will do the best we can and limit some open three-pointers. We have to play well because they are one of the best teams in the state. They've had our number for quite a while. So we are going to play as hard as we can and see what happens."
Rossville and Silver Lake will clash for 'War on 24' part three on Saturday at Perry-Lecompton High School for the Class 3A sub-state championship at 5:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the 3A state tournament at Hutchinson Community College next weekend.
"We need to make sure we start off Saturday on top of our game," Perine said. "We know Silver Lake is a good team. They've beat us twice, but I think if we play our game, we can give them a good fight."
ROSSVILLE GIRLS 60, JEFFERSON WEST 32
Rossville 14 23 13 10 – 60
Jefferson West 11 10 6 5 – 32
Rossville (16-6) – Perine 5-10 4-4 15, Mitchell 5-14 2-4 12, Porter 1-3 0-0 2, Dick 4-11 2-2 12, Spielman 5-7 4-6 14, Haehn 1-2 1-3 3, Sanders 0-0 2-2 2, Horgan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals – 21-48 15-21 60.
Jefferson West (6-16) – Dickey 5-17 0-0 13, Tuck 1-3 0-0 3, Meyer 0-2 0-0 0, Schwinn 2-7 0-0 4, Sanders 2-5 0-2 4, Noel 2-3 0-0 4, Stones 1-4 2-2 4, Moser 0-2 0-2 0, Zitek 0-1 0-0 0. Totals – 13-44 2-6 32.
3-point goals – Rossville 3 (Dick 2, Perine), Jefferson West 4 (Dickey 3, Tuck). Total fouls – Rossville 15, Jefferson West 20. Total fouls – none. Fouled out – Jefferson West: Tuck. Technical fouls – none.