DODGE CITY — The Northwest girls knew Goddard would play zone defense on Saturday in the Class 6A sub-state basketball championship. Yet the Grizzlies still looked stymied and tight.
An experienced team with seven seniors, they settled too often for jumpers and missed five of their first six three-pointers. Their reaction to the zone effectively negated the advantage of their speed and 6-foot center Alaina Shine.
But then a sophomore, Cassidy Harbert, sped up the offense. She got a steal and scored on the fastbreak midway through the second. Less than two minutes later, she scored by driving inside.
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It was the offensive spark Northwest needed to defeat Goddard 50-41 and advance to the 6A tournament for the first time since 1999.
"We needed someone to step up, someone to take it to the hole and prove we could do it," Harbert said.
For the seniors, the sub-state championship was special because they had been so close before. Northwest lost tight games in the sub-state finals the past two years.
"For a lot of us, it's the last time playing basketball ever. It was now or never," said Shine, a four-year varsity player who had seven points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots."... Cassidy, she's a sophomore. She's out here to play, and she came out and played a good game today."
Harbert finished with eight points, and her role in revealing Goddard's gaps that was key. Senior Brianna Caldwell started driving the lane, so did T. Nolen.
"When she started driving to the hole, it obligates everyone else to drive to the hole, too," said Caldwell, a four-year varsity player who finished with a game-high 15 points. "If she's getting to the basket, then why can't you?"
Northwest badly needed the confidence because Goddard clearly played a better first half, not only with its zone defense but its offense, too.
"We did what we wanted to do," Goddard coach Lee Keller said. "We got them in foul trouble, took it where we wanted to."
Goddard's Kjia Hart hit 8 of 10 free throws before the break, including 8 of 8 in the second quarter. She finished with 14 points, while Shelby Zoglman had 10 points and Hannah Puthoff had 10 rebounds.
Goddard (14-8) 4 18 9 10 — 41 Northwest (18-4) 5 11 17 17 — 50
GODDARD: Foss 1 2-4 5, Rausch 2 1-2 6, Zoglman 4 0-3 10, Hart 2 10-12 14, Puthoff 1 1-3 6. Totals 11 (5) 14-24 41.
NORTHWEST: Harbert 4 0-2 8, A. Millspaugh 1 0-0 3, M. Millspaugh 3 0-0 9, Cotman 2 0-0 4, Nolen 1 0-1 2, Caldwell 4 7-10 15, Allen 1 0-0 2, Shine 3 1-2 7. Totals 19 (4) 8-15.