SALINA — Pratt sophomore guard Micah Swank admitted he was "feeling it."
With his team in a battle with eighth-seeded Circle in the Class 4A tournament quarterfinals, Swank decided to take things into his own hands.
Pratt was clinging to a 31-29 lead in the third quarter when Swank sparked a 14-2 run to close the quarter, including 11 in a row himself.
Pratt won 64-56 and will play Kansas City Sumner in tonight's semifinals.
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"My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in the third quarter," said Swank, who scored a game-high 26 points. "In the second half, we spread the floor a little more and I made some shots."
Known more for his ability to handle the ball and be the floor leader, Swank took only three shots in the first half. His brother, Matt, Pratt's leading scorer, also struggled, going 0 for 10.
So the way the third quarter ended — Micah found Matt in the corner for a three as the buzzer sounded — was the way it's supposed to be.
But David Swank, Pratt coach and the players' father, knows that Micah getting three shot attempts and Matt going scoreless in a half won't get the Greenbacks their first state title.
"We couldn't hit the broad side of the barn in the first half," David Swank said. "We weren't very relaxed. We settled down in the second half. I expect us to come out a little more relaxed tomorrow and we will have to because we are going to have a heck of a battle."
One of the staples of Swank's teams is its pressure defense, when traps and double teams come from anywhere.
The Greenbacks were a nuisance to Circle, forcing 21 turnovers and never allowing the Thunderbirds to consistently get the ball inside to their 6-foot-6 center Jordan Phillips, who scored six points in the first three quarters.
"We had a hard time getting the ball where we wanted to tonight," Circle coach Burt Helmer said. "They made it difficult for us to get the ball anywhere in the post."
David Swank expected Micah to step up in the second half. He'd been to a state tournament before and all season he was the catalyst to Pratt's success. So it wasn't a surprise to David when Micah kept demanding the ball during that scoring onslaught in the third quarter.
"Micah is our best player," David Swank said. "He stepped up and made some plays when we needed them most."
Coffeyville 52, Nickerson 38 — Nickerson couldn't overcome a timid first quarter, when it allowed Coffeyville to score 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Cameron Craig and Ethan Cordray combined for 33 points for the Tornado, which used a 16-7 run over a five-minute span in the first quarter to put away Nickerson early.
"We just didn't have a whole lot of fire to us early in the game," Nickerson coach Ryan Duft said. "I thought we played fine after that first quarter, when we picked up our intensity."
Playing inside, Craig dished out four assists to open teammate in the opening period. Cordray scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter, hitting three three-pointers.
"We certainly knew they were going to be a tough team to defend," Duft said. "Craig is so good off the bounce and creating shots for others. When we have to help out on him, it leaves opportunities for others and that's when Cordray got going."
Braden Thompson led Nickerson with 10 points. Nickerson shot 33 percent.
"There just wasn't enough offense for us to keep pace today," Duft said. "We didn't do a good-enough job of getting the ball inside and settled for too many perimeter jump shots."