Dodge City High School’s Ashley Stephenson wears No. 3 for the Lady Demons, and she wears it for good reason.
Stephenson stepped up beyond the arc while catching a pass in rhythm and launched in a tiebreaking rainbow 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining, lifting defending Western Athletic Conference champion Dodge City to a 25-22 triumph over the crestfallen Great Bend Lady Panthers on Friday The 13th.
“It’s tough losing a game like that, down the stretch,” said GBHS head coach Jason Tatkenhorst, whose team’s record dipped to 0-9 overall and 0-3 in conference play. “We had done such a good job guarding their two best guards (Stephenson and Brenna Briggs) the whole game and we let them get open, wide-open, at the buzzer and we’re frustrated with that.
“We’ve got to learn from that, and we’ve got to learn also that when we have the ball with 19 seconds left, we want the final shot or go into overtime. That’s our philosophy. We were also 1-for-7 at the free-throw line, and that hurt us.”
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Great Bend, which parlayed an aggressive first half into a 16-2 halftime lead, where it also shut out the Lady Demons in second quarter, and seemed hell-bent on capturing its first win of the season.
But it was Friday The 13th, and a horror story unfolded in the second half for the Lady Panthers in the guise of a 17-2 Dodge City run that ruined their Homecoming before a large crowd at Panther Fieldhouse.
“The girls are getting tired of it (losing), but in the locker room, there was a team that was together,” Tatkenhorst said. “It’s frustrating for everybody, but the team is sticking together and they know there’s no chance for us to be successful if we don’t stick together.”
Dodge City (5-2, 1-1) closed the gap to 20-8 after three quarters, and then ripped off a 9-0 surge, capped by Briggs’ trifecta from the left wing to pull Dodge within 20-17 with 5:26 remaining.
It was an offensive stalemate from that juncture until Ciera Lampe of DCHS hit a basket from the wing to cut the margin to 20-19 at the 4:46 mark.
Briggs hit a go-ahead basket for a 21-20 lead with 2:41 showing on the game clock, and then Dodge owned a 22-20 edge after Alexis Sanchez made the first of two free throws at the 2:14 mark.
Great Bend’s McKenna Mauler then swished a game-tying basket from the right wing with 50 seconds left, knotting the score at 22. After a pair of missed opportunities on a pair of one-and-one free-throw opportunities by Great Bend, Stephenson followed by knocking down her dagger 3 as the game clock melted.
In a productive and aggressive first half, Great Bend was diving for every loose ball and attacking the basket with authority. The Lady Panthers had an 8-2 lead after one quarter, getting baskets from Kelsey Crosby, Morgan Harwood, Liz Kutina and Regan Unruh.
GBHS extended its edge to 11-2 at the four-minute mark in the second period after Crosby made 1 of 2 free throws and Tarynn Stueder attacked the basket for a layup off a Dodge turnover. Brandi Schneider’s trey capped the half for the Lady Panthers, giving them their biggest lead of the season at 14 points.
But Dodge City’s full-court pressure took its toll on the Lady Panthers in the second half, and the Lady Demons started making their move.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Dodge City 25, Great Bend 22
DODGE CITY (5-2, 1-1)
Ashley Stephenson 2 2-2 7, Summer Wilson 0 0-0 0, Brenna Briggs 2 0-0 5, Alexis Sanchez 1 1-2 3, Katrina Roenfeldt 3 0-1 6, Mariah Kellenberger 0 0-0 0, Jamie Groth 0 0-0 0, Ciera Lampe 1 2-2 4. Totals 9 5-7 25.
GREAT BEND (0-9, 0-3)
Brandi Schneider 1 0-0 3, Emily Cruse 0 0-0 0, Olivia Basye 0 0-2 0, Katelyn Henning 0 0-0 0, Hannah Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Kelsie Doll 0 0-0 0, Liz Kutina 3 0-0 6, Regan Unruh 0 0-1 0, Kaylie Doll 0 0-0 0, McKenna Mauler 2 0-0 4, Tarynn Stueder 1 0-0 2, Morgan Harwood 2 0-2 4, Kelsey Crosby 1 1-2 3 Totals 10 1-7 20.
Great Bend 8 8 4 2 — 22
Dodge City 2 0 6 17 — 25
Three-point goals — Great Bend 1 (Schneider); Dodge City 2 (Stephenson, Briggs). Fouled out — None.