LIBERAL, Mo. — Both Girard High School basketball teams advanced to the Championship round of the 24th-annual Wilson County Tournament, as the girl’s defeated Bluestem 71-42 and the boys followed it up with a 55-37 win over Cherryvale in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Coming off of the bye in round one, the Trojans proved why they are the No. 1-ranked team with a dominating, 29-point win over the Chargers in the early game.
It was a wire-to-wire victory, as the Trojans received a big effort from Calea Augustin who was seemingly everywhere on the floor in their eighth win of the season.
“We did a nice job overall on their shooter’s, there wasn’t much flow to the game,” GHS head coach Brad Herlocker said. “Kelli Cuthbertson does a nice job defensively for us. We did not rebound well tonight, but did enough to get the win. Although she was a focal point for the other team, Ashley Ray did a nice job of attacking the basket and got some offensive rebounds and putbacks. Caela did a nice job taking what they gave. As teams continue to to focus on Ashley, it opens it up for others.”
Girard drew first blood in the contest on a layup by Augustin, as the Trojans jumped out to a out to a quick 9-4 lead in the opening quarter.
The Trojans continued to build their lead to 17-7, following a 9-3 run — highlighted by five points from Ashley Ray — before ending the first quarter with six unanswered points to increase the lead to 23-7.
Bluestem turned things after the break, cutting the deficit to 27-14 after starting the second quarter with a 7-2 run.
The Lions chipped away at the deficit further, by scoring six unanswered points which narrowed the gap single digits at 29-20 with four minutes to play in the first half.
Following a quick timeout by Herlocker, the Trojans regrouped and took back the momentum, as they closed out the final minutes of the second quarter with a 10-1 run to go into the locker room at halftime holding a 38-21 advantage.
The 10-1 run was highlighted by six points by Augustin.
Despite losing ground before halftime, Bluestem came out of the break with a purpose, outscoring the Trojans 7-1 in the opening minutes of the third quarter to push the score to 39-28.
The Trojans continued to keep the Lions at bay and responded with a 10-3 run, to go into the final eight minutes of play with a 53-33 lead.
The run included four points by Lauren Franklin and two points apiece from Augustin, Olivia Hanson and Sydnee Crain.
Girard ended all thoughts of a comeback in the fourth quarter, as 10 unanswered points cushioned the lead to 63-33.
Bluestem responded with back-to-back baskets, but the Trojans closed out the contest with an 8-2 run to coast to the win.
Augustin was the offensive catalyst with 28 points and her teammate Ray finished 15.
Franklin also had a nice game, with 10 points of her own.
Following the win by the lady Trojans, the boys team took the floor and matched it with a victory of their own, defeating Cherryvale 55-37 to advance in the tournament and improve the season record to 7-2.
The Trojans stumbled out the gates and found themselves in an 6-2 deficit, but Evan Troike got them back on the right track with two points, which sparked a 9-0 run to give them the lead at 11-6.
Cherryvale scored the final two points of the opening eight minutes and started the second quarter strong, with a 6-2 run to give back the lead to the Chargers at 14-13.
Girard took control of the contest about halfway through the second quarter, thanks to a 15-3 run which gave the Trojans a 28-16 lead at the half.
The run was highlighted by six points apiece from Caleb Muia and Eric Wilson.
By the end of the third quarter, the outcome was in little doubt, as GHS received five points from Wilson in an 11-2 run to go into the final eight minutes of regulation holding a 44-21 lead.
The Chargers went on a 10-2 run to begin the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late, as the Trojans held on for the win.
Wilson was the leading scorer for GHS, contributing 16 points.
Muia provided a spark off the bench, with 14 points in the victory.
— Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.