By Todd Fertig

HUTCHINSON -- A much-anticipated meeting between Silver Lake and Hayden finally happened Friday in a Class 3A state semifinal in Hutchinson.

A tight battle gradually shifted in favor of Silver Lake, with the Eagles winning 64-49 to advance Saturday's state title game.

MakenzieMcDanielHayState 1Silver Lake senior Makenzie McDaniel scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Eagles advanced to the Class 3A title game with a 64-49 win over Hayden. [Photo by Kyle Grunert/Special to TSN]

Silver Lake preserved their undefeated record at 25-0 and will face Hesston on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The Eagle seniors will be taking their fourth crack at a title. They finished third two years ago and fourth last year.

Hayden and Silver Lake traded leads back and forth throughout the first half, the biggest lead coming when Hayden pulled out to a five-point advantage late in the second period. But Silver Lake responded with a 10-3 run to close out the period with a 29-27 lead.

Amelia Ramsey was Hayden’s top weapon in the first two periods, battling to 11 first-half points. Silver Lake was led in the first half by Kaibryn Kruger with nine.

“Hayden played extremely well,” said Silver Lake coach Kyle Porter. “They have some extremely skilled bigs who can not only kill you inside but also stretch you outside. You saw that with Ramsey tonight. I thought she was phenomenal.

“First half, I thought we gave up some easy second-chance points. From then on, we did limit their second-chance opportunities. That was big.”

Silver Lake stretched its lead to 46-38 in the third period and the Eagles owned the early part of the fourth period, starting with a 12-0 run and finishing with a 64-49 win.

Silver Lake recorded 19 assists on their 23 baskets.

“The second half belonged to (us playing) team basketball,” Porter said. “With our team, you can’t just stop one player. When teams over-compensate and put two on one, we’ve got to be able to find the open man and finish. And they’ve been able to do that for four years.”

Silver Lake’s Makenzie McDaniel picked up several buckets in transition and dominated on the low block in the second half. She tallied 14 of her 20 points and eight of her 12 rebounds after halftime.

“We wanted to score in transition and we wanted to probe in transition,” Porter said. “A lot of those buckets (McDaniel) got were because our guards were able to attack and then separate and probe and hit her coming to the rim. She finished so well in the second half.”

KrugerGrunertState 1Silver Lake senior McKinley Kruger (12) drives to the basket as Hayden senior Avery Grunert defends in Friday's 64-49 Silver Lake Class 3A semifinal win over the Wildcats/ [Photo by Kyle Grunert/Special to TSN]

KayleeDeiterState 1Silver Lake senior Kaylee Deiter, who had 11 points, puts up a shot in the Eagles' 64-49 Class 3A semifinal win over Hayden. [Photo by Kyle Grunert/Special to TSN]

Joining McDaniel in double figures for Silver Lake were McKinley Kruger and Kailyn Hanni with 12 apiece and Kaylee Deiter with 11.

“There was maybe a little bit of nerves but not really bad,” McDaniel said. “I trust my teammates. I know this is what we’ve been working for, and I knew that if we came out to play we were going to win.”

AmeliaRamseyStateSL 1Hayden junior Amelia Ramsey scored 20 points to lead the Wildcats in Friday's 64-49 Class 3A state semifinal loss to Silver Lake. [Photo by Kyle Grunert/Special to TSN]

Ramsey led Hayden with 20 points, including three 3-pointers as she tried to draw McDaniel out to the perimeter. Brylee Meier added 11.

McDaniel has played in the consolation round the past two seasons. She can finally look forward to playing for a championship.

“This is a really great experience,” McDaniel said. “Goodland has knocked us out twice and it was always a bitter taste to have to prepare for a (consolation game). It’s great to be able to go (to the hotel) and prepare for tomorrow with excitement from the win. Today is a really great feeling.”

KylePorterSilverLakeState 1Silver Lake coach Kyle Porter exhorts his Eagles during Friday's 64-49 Class 3A semifinal win over Hayden. [Photo by Kyle Grunert/Special to TSN]

Porter has experienced a championship run, having led Royal Valley to a title in 2019. He said the emotion of the win over Hayden will not keep the Eagles from being prepared to meet Hesston, which defeated Goodland in the other semifinal game.

“The first thing I want our girls to do is enjoy the heck out of this,” Porter said. “They put a lot of time and effort into this moment and getting over that second-round game. We’ll be ready to present (the scouting report) to them. The first thing we want to do is enjoy this. But tonight or early tomorrow, we will turn the page and we’re going to finish the job.”


Hayden           13 14 11 11 -- 49

Silver Lake       10 19 17 18 -- 64

Hayden (20-5) – Sandstrom 3-11 0-0 7, Ramsey 7-11 3-4 20, Meier 4-11 2-2 11, Grunert 1-3 2-3 5, Greco 2-11 0-0 6, Reagan Huscher 0-2 0-0 0, Fulton 0-3 0-0 0, Reese Huscher 0-0 0-0 0, Reid 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-52 7-9 49.

Silver Lake (25-0) – Deiter 4-4 0-0 11, McDaniel 10-15 0-3 20, Hanni 4-7 4-5 12, K. Kruger 2-9 4-4 9, M. Kruger 3-11 5-5 12, Wehrli 0-1 0-0 0, Bolan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-48 13-17 64.

3-point goals – Hayden 8 (Ramsey 3, Greco 2, Sandstrom 1, Meier 1, Grunert 1), Silver Lake 5 (Deiter 3, K. Kruger 1, M. Kruger 1). Total fouls – Hayden 16, Silver Lake 11. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None. 

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