Playing South twice during the regular season helped the Northwest girls basketball team figure out how to limit the City League's leading scorer Jessa Molina.
It didn't have the same effect on South's defense against two of the Grizzlies' best scorers.
Against a sagging Titans zone, Northwest's Brianna Caldwell made eight three-pointers and scored 30 points. Center Alaina Shine added 16 as the Grizzlies advanced in their Class 6A sub-state with a 68-34 win on Thursday night. Molina was held without a basket and had 10 points.
Northwest advances to the sub-state final, where it will play Goddard on Saturday night in Dodge City to earn a trip to the 6A tournament for the first time since 1999.
"They packed it in and Bri did a good job of catching and shooting it," Mernagh said. "She's pretty good at it. The girls did a good job reversing the ball. She was open and she caught it and shot it in rhythm."
Northwest led 20-5 after the first quarter and six of Caldwell's three-pointers came in the second and third quarters.
Her offense wasn't always crucial, but Caldwell showed she has the capability to break out at the season's most important point. She was Northwest's leading scorer at 11.9 points, but her previous season-high was 19.
"She can shoot it, she's a good shooter," Mernagh said. "She's confident and tonight it was going and they weren't getting out on her too much."
Molina is the player most likely to keep South from big defeats like Thursday's, but she could only manage a 10-of-12 showing from the free-throw line, and she was scoreless in the second half as the Grizzlies continued to pull away. She scored 18 and 15 points in South's two other meetings with Northwest, but missed all eight shots Thursday.
"Our kids did a good job getting their hands up, doubling down and clogging things up in the lane," Mernagh said.
Even with South's zone stacked in the lane, Shine's versatility allowed her to notch her highest point total since scoring 18 against North on Feb. 5. Northwest's five attempted free throws indicates their success from the perimeter and on the fast break, where Shine's greatest success came.
"She just beat them up and down the floor," Mernagh said. "She hit a couple jump shots, too. (Point guard) T. Nolen did a good job of penetrating and kicking and a couple times she got Alaina at the elbow. Alaina runs the floor hard."
South (5-16) 5 12 9 8 — 34 Northwest (17-4) 20 18 16 14 — 68
SOUTH: Rose 1 0-0 2, Kitchen 4 0-0 9, Clark 3 3-6 11, Littlejohn 1 0-0 2, Molina 0 10-12 10. Totals 9 (3) 13-18 34.
NORTHWEST: Harbert 1 3-3 5, M. Millspaugh 1 0-0 2, Cotman 1 0-2 2, Nolen 4 0-0 9, Caldwell 11 0-0 30, Loganbill 1 0-0 2, Allen 1 0-0 2, Shine 8 0-0 16. Totals 28 (9) 3-5 68.