MANHATTAN — After shooting 70.4 percent in the first half, the top-seeded Olpe Eagles cooled in the second half — to 66.7 percent.
Olpe rolled to a 77-45 victory Friday over Berean Academy in the Class 2A girls semifinals, earning a berth in today's championship game.
Olpe was led by 6-foot-1 junior post Kathryn Flott's 22 points. Kendyl McDougald hit two of Olpe's four three-pointers and finished with 18. But Olpe got an added lift from 6-foot junior Katelyn Henderson, who scored eight of her 14 points in the first quarter, when Olpe took a 28-9 lead.
"She's kind of a sneaky kid," Olpe coach Jesse Nelson said of Henderson. "At the end of the game, she's going to have pretty nice stats. I thought she rebounded well, she defended very well, and we did a good job of finding her."
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Berean's Janelle Rust, coming off a 31-point game Wednesday against Pittsburg Colgan, struggled against Olpe's defense. She made 2 of 11 shots and finished with nine points.
Warriors coach Kristen Wiebe credited Olpe's defense for shutting down Rust.
"They played man-to-man, and we were expecting a little more zone," Wiebe said. "It's a little tougher to get shots when you're playing man-to-man, and I didn't take her out much, because I felt she really needed to be in there to give us a chance and to cut back into that lead a little bit."
Scoring didn't come easy for Berean (21-4). The Warriors made one-third of their shots (18 of 54), and were dominated on the boards 37-22.
Of course, Flott and Henderson had a lot to do with that, gathering nine rebounds each.
The Eagles' shooting total kept Berean perplexed, and Wiebe noted that Olpe even was hot from three-point range. The Eagles made half of their eight attempts. Starting guard Jill Cole hit two in the torrid first quarter, and McDougald hit the other two.
"Third place means something," she said.