Late in the first half Tuesday night at Conway Springs, Garden Plain senior Madison Schmelzer was once again in the right place at the right time.
A loose ball squirted away from two Conway Springs players and, of course, Schmelzer came up with it. She scored on the layup.
Schmelzer had four steals, four rebounds and a game-high 20 points as Garden Plain beat Conway Springs 47-39. Garden Plain is 9-1, while Conway Springs falls to 7-3.
“She has one speed, and that’s pretty fast,” Garden Plain coach Kody Kasselman said. “She made some good decisions and didn’t get too caught up forcing things.”
Down 3-2 after Conway Springs guard Erica Ebenkamp hit a three-pointer, Schmelzer made two threes.
With an 8-6 lead midway through the first, Garden Plain sophomore Taylor Joplin made two straight baskets to start a 12-0 run. Garden Plain led by as many as 14 in the first half and was up 30-20 midway through the third. But Schmelzer knew what was coming.
“It’s always a dogfight,” Schmelzer said of playing Conway Springs. “Both teams play the same way — fast and really, really tough.”
Conway Springs, which shot 6 of 18 from the field in the first half, made 6 of 10 in the third. Halie Jones scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the period.
“They punched us in the nose coming out in the second half,” Kasselman said. “I thought we responded. We didn’t go away.”
With 5:14 to go, Conway Springs capped a 15-5 run with a three-pointer by Ebenkamp.
“We tried to get the ball inside a little bit better,” Conway Springs coach Pat Carl said. “Shots fell for us a little bit better. We missed shots early, and you can’t do that against Garden Plain. They’re too good. You have to play a complete game against them.”
Garden Plain didn’t make a field goal in the final 5:30, but the Owls were golden at the free-throw line. They made 12 of 13 in the final period, and Joplin made 7 of 7.
Kasselman said the Owls only shot above 65 percent from the line once in their first seven games.
“We had a sophomore who stepped up big, hit free throws,” Schmelzer said.
Kasselman added: “She doesn’t get flustered. She just plays and has fun. She isn’t afraid to take a big shot.”