As the top-ranked Class 6A girls basketball team in the state traveled to the second-ranked 5A school Tuesday night, an intriguing matchup of the two tallest girls on the court grabbed most of the attention at first.
But it was the smallest girl who made the biggest impact.
Kapaun senior Lindsey Medina, at 5-foot-4, torched South for a career-high 18 points, including five three-pointers in a 55-39 win.
“She may be small, but she’s got a heart this big,” Kapaun coach Marvin Estes said with arms outstretched. “She has shot well in the past. We knew she could.”
The matchup inside put South’s 6-3 sophomore Kendrian Elliott against Kapaun’s 6-1 senior Sydner Kuhn. Elliott, who finished with 12 points, held her own until four fouls pulled her out of the game early in the third quarter.
But the game was well in hand by then thanks to Kapaun’s 16-0 run in the first half. The Crusaders (2-0) trailed 13-11 in the final minute of the first quarter before tightening up the defensive pressure. South didn’t score again until 70 seconds before haltime, and the two-point second quarter put them in a 28-15 deficit.
Medinapoured in eight of her game-high 18 during the 16-0 run. The shooting guard said the game plan was to get the ball inside to Kuhn. When South (1-1) collapsed on the post, Kuhn turned into an assist machine.
“We worked on that all week,” Medina said. “I just had to make myself available, and she got the ball outside to me.”
The outcome was a repeat of last year’s meeting, when the lone blemish on South’s 24-1 state championship run came in a loss to Kapaun. Instead of avenging last year’s defeat, South experienced the same disappointment again, handcuffed by a tightly-called game that put Elliott on the bench for most of the second half and saw starting guard Ericka Mattingly foul out.
“We were in this same position last year. That’s what happens when we come over here,” South coach Antwain Scales said. “But I don’t want to take anything away from them. That’s a good team, and they were able to knock down buckets tonight. It was their night.”
Medina, whose previous career high was 11 points in last year’s win over South, wasn’t the only hot shooter. Kapaun shot 60 percent (9 of 15) from the three-point line, including two from junior Sam Bachrodt who finished with 17 points.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Estes said of his team’s accuracy from long range. “We’re normally not this accurate this early in the season.”
SOUTH: K. Elliott 12, K. Callins 3, K. Rogers 6, P. Dodson 5, M. Northcutt 13.
KAPAUN: L. Medina 18, G. Schaefer 5, A. Born 1, S. Bachrodt 17, J. Jacobs 5, S. Kuhn 8.