Valley Center's ability to drive the lane in the first quarter Wednesday against Kapaun Mount Carmel's girls basketball team could have forced an adjustment from Kapaun coach Damian Smithhisler, who was ready for an opponent that shoots a lot of three-pointers.
The Hornets met Smithhislers's expectations after the first quarter and the Crusaders applied their preparation. Valley Center's only encouraging stretch from three-point range came in the third quarter, but other than that the Hornets were poor from the perimeter in Kapaun's 48-30 win in the Class 5A sub-state game.
Kapaun advances to play Andover on Friday for a berth in the 5A tournament.
"That's their game," Smithhisler said. "They pull (from long range) a lot and we knew we'd have to defend. Our game plan was to keep the pace up so they wouldn't have the legs to make those threes they were going to take."
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Valley Center led 10-4 after the first quarter. Madison Wedekind made a three-pointer, but she also penetrated and got beneath Kapaun's post players for two layups. The Hornets tried three three-pointers in the first quarter.
In the second, Valley Center abandoned that strategy and began launching with little success, making 1 of 7. Meanwhile, Kapaun was establishing the fast break and turning up its defense.
The Crusaders also worked the ball inside to freshman center Sydney Kuhn, who scored five points in the second as Kapaun outscored the Hornets 21-6 to take a 25-16 lead.
"For us, it's to apply the pressure and make them be running," Smithhisler said. "Then attack offensively. Anytime we get a rebound, let's go. Let's get it up the floor. We've been deep enough all year that we can go that way."
Morgan Wedekind made two three-pointers in the third, the second of which cut Kapaun's lead to 31-26. But Valley Center was still only 2 of 8 on three-pointers in the third and 4 for 19 overall.
In the fourth, the Hornets showed their initial strategy could have worked throughout, as guards drew three late fouls on Kapaun's post players. But Kapaun pulled away by scoring the first eight points of the fourth.
"I don't want to shoot that many three-pointers, I can tell you that," Valley Center coach Daniel Smith said. " 'Settling' would be a great word for that."
As it has all season, Kapaun thrived behind Kuhn and senior guard Katie Andersen, who combined for 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"Katie Andersen, you've got to guard her," Smithhisler said. "Then you've got that 6-foot freshman and you've got to stick on her. You kind of have to pick your poison. It's nice to be balanced."
Valley Center (5-16) 10 6 10 4 — 30 Kapaun Mount Carmel (10-11) 4 21 8 15 — 48
VALLEY CENTER: Ma. Wedekind 4 1-1 11, Mo. Wedekind 3 0-0 8, Johnson 1 0-0 2, WIlliams 1 1-4 3, McCormick 0 2-2 2, Spears 0 1-2 1, Coleman 0 3-4 3. Totals 9 (4) 8-13 30.
KAPAUN: Lujano 2 1-2 5, Shaw 2 0-0 5, Medina 2 0-0 4, Kubik 2 0-1 4, Andersen 4 1-2 10, McAuliffe 0 1-2 1, Lantz 2 4-4 8, Kuhn 4 3-4 11. Totals 18 (2) 10-15 48.