DODGE CITY — The scouting report for the Quinter girls’ basketball team on Bucklin was quite simple.
Try to keep the Red Aces’ leading scorer and rebounder — 5-10 junior Patricia Hokanson — from doing major damage on both fronts.
Consider Matt Havlas’ scouting report to be mission accomplished.
The Bulldogs held the Red Aces star without a field goal, and just two free throws and nine rebounds, and that helped propel the Bulldogs to a 48-41 quarterfinal victory at the Class 1A Division II state tournament at United Wireless Arena on Thursday night.
“In all my years of coaching I’ve never run a box-and-one,” Havlas said, “but we did it against Otis-Bison in our sub-state championship game and we used Abria (5-4 senior Fisher) on their girl and held her in check. It worked again tonight.”
The Bulldogs now will get to take on No. 1 seeded Cunningham in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal. Cunningham (23-1) rolled over Sharon Springs, 57-33, in its quarterfinal. The Bulldogs improved to 19-5.
A year after getting steamrolled in 1A-I by Centralia in Hays, it seems as though Division II agrees with the Bulldogs.
“We learned a lot from that last year, and came here with the idea to win one so we could play three,” Coach Havlas said.
With a bevy of seniors leading the way, the Bulldogs were pretty much in control throughout, although they still had some anxious moments late due to a chilly free throw effort in the fourth quarter, in which they were 8 of 16.
Their biggest lead came at 39-24 early in the fourth on five quick points in the first 49 seconds of the period. From there, it was mostly a march to the free throw line, and somehow they had just enough in their gas tank to hold off the feisty Red Aces.
Coach Havlas’ daughter, 5-10 senior Peyton, shared game-high honors with 13 points each, the daughter going 6 of 8 from the field, mostly on high lobs over the Bucklin defense.
“We do a lot of lobs, that’s my favorite,” said a smiling Peyton Havlas afterward. “I think the free throws were just nerves.”
The coach’s daughter said the biggest factor was their defensive secret weapon — Fisher — shutting down Bucklin’s Hokanson.
“That was our goal, take her (Hokanson) out of the game,” Peyton Havlas said. “She’s (Fisher) our best defender and she’s pesky and I think she (Hokanson) got frustrated.”
And in the first half, when the Bulldogs needed more offense, they got it from another senior, Kylie Crist, who scored 10 of her 13 points in the opening half.
“Kylie had some big 3s for us and when she does that, it gets us energized on defense,” coach Havlas said. “I think when we got up, they (Bucklin) rushed things and you could tell she (Hokanson) got flustered.”
While he wasn’t thrilled with the free throw percentage (15 of 27), he was pleased they got to the line that many times.
“We were able to get the ball penetrated and some drop-offs and got to the line enough,” coach Havlas said. “We’ve won some close games this year, and it’s just really nice to be able to play two more games for these seniors.”
When the Bulldogs qualified a year ago for Hays, it snapped a 10-year drought of making the state. And they’ve only made it a total of six times now.
“It’s not something we do every year like some schools,” coach Havlas said. “So we think it’s pretty special and I think these seniors wanted to come here and do something special.”
And by making just their second Final Four appearance, the Bulldogs are on the cusp of doing something no other Quinter team has — play for a state championship on Saturday.
From the opening tipoff, the first half was almost all Quinter.
The Bulldogs opened with an 8-2 lead early thanks in part to a 3-pointer by Kyle Crist just past the midway point of the first.
By quarter’s end, they had built the advantage to double digits at 15-5, with the defense playing a big role.
The lead would grow to 14 at 25-11 and it was 26-13 at intermission.
Coach Havlas’ game plan to limit Bucklin’s leading scorer, Patricia Hokanson, was nearly perfect in the opening 16 minutes.
The box-and-1, with Abria Fisher getting most of the front-guarding duty of the 5-10 forward, kept Hokanson scoreless and she only had three shot attempts and just two rebounds.
Quinter’s defense was stellar in the first half, limiting the Red Aces to just 5 of 27 shooting, a bone-chilling 18.5 percent. The Bulldogs weren’t exactly zeroing in on their shots, though, making 9 of 25 for 36 percent and just 3 of 12 from behind the arc.
Rebounding played a big role in building the early lead, too, as the Bulldogs owned a 25-15 advantage on the boards heading in at halftime.