Tuesday’s game against Cheney was already a rematch the Conway Springs girls basketball team was anticipating.
Besides having lost the first game earlier this season, the second meeting held important league and sub-state implications. Then the team found out this week that coach Pat Carl would be unable to attend the game due to a family matter.
“We already wanted revenge to begin with and then with (Carl) not being here, we wanted this one even more,” Conway Springs junior Shannon Drouhard said. “He told us before the game to go get them and that’s what we did.”
Motivated by its missing coach, Conway Springs played inspired in a 57-45 victory over Cheney on Tuesday.
The win moves Conway Springs (12-6) one game behind Cheney (14-4) and Garden Plain for the lead in the Central Plains League.
“With coach being gone, this one was really personal for us,” Conway Springs junior Lacey Pauly said. “We needed that redemption and we needed it for coach.”
Conway Springs grabbed control of the game with an 11-2 run in the final three minutes of the first quarter, bolstered by three straight three-pointers from Drouhard (two) and Kara Koester, to take a 15-5 lead.
Besides a mini-spurt late in the fourth quarter, Cheney was never able to piece together a run to challenge the lead. Conway Springs would lead by at least eight points for the final three quarters.
“We kind of panicked and tried to get everything back in one or two possessions,” Cheney coach Rod Scheer said. “We had to get a score and a stop; we couldn’t trade baskets with them. But that’s ended up what happened.”
Conway Springs was led by a balanced scoring attack from Pauly (14 points), Koester (11), Drouhard (10), and Sabrina Bellar (eight), while Kadie Smith scored 12 points and Haley Albers added 11 for Cheney.
Afterward, both sides seemed more worried about the upcoming Class 3A sub-state each team is in.
All eight teams in the sub-state have winning records after Tuesday and the matchup between Cheney and Conway Springs could potentially be a first-round game. As Conway Springs showed on Tuesday, any one of the eight teams could emerge with the state tournament berth.
“We’re hoping other teams don’t sleep on us,” Drouhard said. “We’ve worked really hard and now we’re ready for it.”
“Whoever comes out of that sub-state will have won three really tough games and done a hell of a job,” Scheer said. “Now we have to play every game like it’s our last because it really could be with how tough that sub-state is.”