There an unspoken agreement between 6-foot-3 sophomore Kendrian Elliott and her teammates on the South girls basketball team.
If Elliott keeps working for position in the post, the Titans will deliver the ball. Whether it comes via a bounce pass or a lob, an entry with her back to the basket or a lead pass taking her right to the hoop, Elliott will get the ball.
It’s a system that South has used to return to the Class 6A tournament, beating Dodge City 63-21 on Friday night in a sub-state championship game.
A coin flip will decide whether South or Manhattan, both 21-1, will receive the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
“I know that I have to work hard down there for my team,” Elliott said. “If we all work together, we can win state. I think we all know that.”
And that doesn’t mean Elliott has to score the majority of the points, although that was the case Friday against an over-matched Dodge City team.
It is nearly impossible to keep Elliott from touching the ball in the post, as Dodge City found out when even its strategy of committing two defenders to her failed.
The Titans were patient along the perimeter, whipping the ball around until an advantageous angle presented itself for an entry pass. The end result was a dominant performance from Elliott, who matched Dodge City’s output with 21 points of her own on 9-of-10 shooting.
“We always try to use our advantage down there, especially if they don’t have any size,” said South point guard Ericka Mattingly, who doled out eight assists. “We tell Kendrian to make sure she works hard down there, so we can feed her the ball. Little guards can guard us better than they can guard her.”
Elliott having the ball in the post has other advantages. Not only can Elliott use her array of post moves to score, she can make collapsing defenses pay by kicking out to a shooter such as Eledria Franklin (11 points with three three-pointers) or look on the weak-side for Kirea Rogers (11 points).
Combine that with a menacing defense, which held Dodge City without a point on 44 of its 54 possessions in the game, and South has a recipe it believes can deliver back-to-back state titles.
“We know from here on out, it’s one-and-done,” Mattingly said. “We just got to keep working. We’re ready.”
A minor celebration occurred after the game when the team was presented with its plaque. Qualifying for state, while appreciated, is no longer cause for excitement.
“I told the girls not to be satisfied,” South coach Antwain Scales said. “That’s one goal we set, to win sub-state, but our ultimate goal is a state championship. It goes one day at a time.”
DODGE CITY: Sain 7, Roenfeldt 4, Harshberger 4, B. Bradshaw 2, T. Bradshaw 2, Shelor 2.
SOUTH: Elliott 21, Franklin 11, Rogers 11, Dodson 10, Callins 6, Mattingly 2, Whitfield 2.