Girls’ Basketball: P-C rocks Martensdale-St. Mary’s, advances to regional semis
By BRANDON HURLEY
The beauty of a well-executed game plan is often intoxicating.
Paton-Churdan embodied the model of preparation in their latest victory, rocketing to a relatively easy triumph. P-C took an early double-digit advantage which eventually led to a workmanlike 21-point victory, 62-41 over Martensdale-St. Mary’s in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals Tuesday night.
The comfortable win advanced P-C to the Region 1 semifinals Friday night, two steps from a return to the state tournament for the first time in 54 years.
Paton-Churdan’s ball-hawking zone defense was the difference early, while a balanced offense helped carry the Rockets to the mountain top.
The milestone victory has quite possibly paved the way for even more success.
The Rolling Valley Conference squad secured their 16th victory of the season, the Rockets’ highest single-season win total in more than 14 years. P-C currently sits at 16-5 overall, awaiting a rematch against CAM with a potential spot in the regional championship on the line. The Rockets had only reached the 15-win mark twice in the 13 seasons prior to this winter, while no team in the Quikstats.com era (dating back to 2007) has ever reached the vaunted 16-win plateau.
The Rockets launched into their Class 1A regional quarterfinal with a 9-0 scoring jaunt Tuesday night, which later transformed into a relatively stress-free win.
Martensdale-St. Mary’s never put up much of a fight, struggling to puncture P-C’s defense. The Rockets’ smooth 2-3 zone caused quite the stir, forcing the Blue Devils into a number of careless turnovers and poor shots.
The Rockets capitalized, pushing the pace while holding their opponent to just 10 points in the opening 15 minutes. The suffocating pressure, anchored by a number of well-timed interceptions, allowed the Rockets to secure a commanding, double-digit first quarter lead.
Even Martensdale-St. Mary’s shift to a double-team of Danielle Hoyle didn’t slow the Rockets. Hoyle adjusted rather magnificently when not softly laying the ball into the bucket. She continually kicked post entries back out to open shooters for easy twine-rattlers of their own. Veteran Chloe Berns’ was often the beneficiary of Hoyle’s floor-spacing dimes, nailing back-to-back second quarter three-pointers to push P-C’s advantage to 22 points.
Martensdale-St. Mary’s lacked any significant height in the low-post, which allowed Hoyle, one of the state’s top centers averaging nearly 23 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per, to dole out her usual tricks. The senior torched the Blue Devils interior defense en route to a satisfying first half, while she was also a usual menace on the defensive end, recording five blocks in the opening two quarters.
P-C was locked in from the start, using their strong defensive effort to initiate the fast-break, which led to a number of easy buckets, typically punctuated by a combination layups from Carmyn Paup, Berns or Tessa Steimel.
P-C lunged out to a 34-14 first half lead, an advantage they’d cling to for the remainder of the contest.
THE RUBBER MATCH
The third time around is always the most challenging.
Tuesday’s win sets up a gigantic showdown with CAM, a matchup which produced a pair of thrillers the two meetings prior. The Feb. 19 winner will advance to the regional final. The two Rolling Valley Conference squads are quite familiar with one another, each snagging a victory in their two prior meetings this winter. Friday’s victor will likely meet two-time defending state champion Newell-Fonda in the championship.
P-C’s win over CAM came in upset fashion, knocking off the Cougars (16-6) back on Jan. 8, 49-36 when they were ranked inside the top 10. The Rockets triumph was one of three straight losses for CAM.
CAM’s 36 points were a season-low, the only time the third-place RVC squad was held below 40 points in 22 games this season.
P-C’s air-tight zone defense held the Cougars to 32 percent shooting and a surprising goose egg from three-point land, missing all 12 of their attempts. Hoyle and Steimel combined for 37 of P-C’s 49 points that night, highlighted by five three-pointers from Steimel as well as 14 rebonds and five blocks by Hoyle.
The Cougars recovered in the rematch in the regular season finale Feb. 8, out-lasting P-C, 52-44 in Anita. Paton-Churdan’s offense struggled in the early going last week, pouring in just 16 first half points while CAM waltzed out to a double-digit lead. The Rockets aren’t necessarily built for comebacks as they never recovered from that early deficit despite 28 second half points.
The Cougars still struggled from the field in the win, shooting just 41 percent though the defense forced an impressive 18 steals.
Hoyle still managed to come away with a monster stat line, nearly producing a triple -double with 21 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks. Steimel scored eight points thanks to a pair of three pointers while Carmyn Paup dished out six assists.
CAM is coming off a 61-46 thrashing of Southeast Warren in their regional quarterfinal matchup. The Cougars produced 34 first half points, aided by 18 from Reese Snyder, thanks to four three-pointers, as well as 14 points from Mallory Behnken.
Friday’s tip is set for 7 p.m. at the CAM High School in Anita.
P-C boys bow out of postseason
The Paton-Churdan boys’ basketball season came to a sudden halt last week. The Rockets were sent packing in their Class 1A district-opener Feb. 5, losing 52-33 to Glidden-Ralston.
P-C finished the year with just three victories against 17 losses, ending the winter slate on an 11-game losing streak. The Rockets were held to 11 first half points, including a dismal four-spot in the second quarter as the hometown Wildcats captured an 18-point halftime lead.
P-C finished the year last in the Rolling Valley Conference with a 1-14 record. The Rockets averaged just 46.4 points this winter, having last captured victory back on Jan. 5.
Glidden-Ralston advanced to play top 10-ranked Grand View Christian in the second round, falling, 83-41.