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Sterling pulls away from Lady Oilers
Hilltop Hoops Classic
spt kp Central Plains Hitschmann
Jennifer Hitschmann of the Lady Oilers attempts a shot as Sterlings Chelsey Riffel defends during Friday nights action. - photo by Kevin Price Great Bend Tribune

It was everything you’d expect from a pair of ranked Class 2A high school girls’ basketball teams at the Hilltop Hoops Classic at Kirkman Activity Center.
Neither Sterling, which is ranked No. 2 in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, nor No. 6-ranked Central Plains led by more than five points until the final minutes as the Lady Black Bears seized a 66-56 victory to win the classic title on Friday night.
“Sterling has some good players out there,” Central Plains head coach Pat Stiles said. “We played with them. We missed some shots we usually make. We know what we’ve got to match.”
Nursing a two-point lead with 5:03 remaining, Sterling opened up an 11-2 run to claim its first double-digit lead of the game.
“I thought they kind of wore us down,” Stiles said. “It’s a tough loss, but we know what we’ve got to do to get better.”
A layup in the paint for Chelsey Riffel followed by a pair of free throws from Lydia Lambert put the Lady Black Bears ahead 54-49.
Central Plains freshman Reagan Phelan, who finished with a team-leading 18 points, made the front end of two free throws for the Lady Oilers (12-2) before Dani Dowell got a steal and a layup on the other end for Sterling.
“In the second half, she really came alive,” Stiles said of Phelan, who finished 7 of 19 from the floor. “She started looking for shots, and got that confidence going.”
As the Lady Oilers began to foul, Riffel made 1 of 2 free throws, and Dani Dowell made both free throws before Central Plains’ Phelan connected on 1 of 2 from the line.
Kylah Comley made both of her free throws for Sterling, making it 61-51 with 1:25 remaining.
Central Plains, which went 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) on 3-pointers on the night, couldn’t sink their shots down the stretch as Sterling continued to make free throws to salt the game.
“There’s going to be nights like that,” Stiles said of his team’s struggles shooting the 3. “They played good defense on us. They contested our shots. Sterling’s a good squad.”
The first half saw three lead changes and two ties.
While Central Plains took an early five-point lead on a basket and 1 of 2 free throws from Jennifer Hitschmann and a bucket from Katie Hipp, Sterling’s Andi Dowell kept the Lady Black Bears in the game.
Hitschmann scored 15 points, and Hipp led the Lady Oilers with 13 rebounds.
Andi Dowell concluded the first half with 17 points, making her first six shots.
“She got that ball in the high post, and we tried to take that away from her,” Stiles said of Andi Dowell, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “Every time she caught it, she took it to the basket.”
Central Plains hosts Otis-Bison on Tuesday night.

Hilltop Hoops Classic



At Great Bend
Kirkman Activity Center

Sterling 66, Central Plains 56
    Reagan Phelan 7-19 3-6 18, Jennifer Hitschmann 6-14 2-4 15, Katie Hipp 2-8 4-4 8, Janae Hekele 3-8 0-0 7, Taylor Rolfs 3-9 0-1 6, Breanna Holmes 1-2 0-0 2, Kendra Oberle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 9-15 56.
    Andi Dowell 9-16 5-7 23, Chelsey Riffel 7-13 1-3 15, Kylah Comley 3-4 6-8 13, Dani Dowell 3-9 2-2 9, Lydia Lambert 0-1 3-4 3, Aubree Nuest 1-5 0-0 2, Keena Schweizer 0-2 1-4 1, Sydney Wilson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 18-28 66.
Central Plains    13   12   20   11 — 56
Sterling               9    18   19   20 — 66
    Three-point goals — Central Plains 3-19 (Hekele 1-4, Hitschmann 1-5, Phelan 1-7, Rolfs 0-3); Sterling 2-10 (Dowell 1-6, Comley 1-1, Lambert 0-1, Nuest 0-2). Rebounds — Central Plains 34 (Hipp 13); Sterling 39 (Riffel 8, Dowell 8). Assists — Central Plains 13 (Phelan 5); Sterling 10 (Nuest 5). Turnovers — Sterling 21, Central Plains 19. Total fouls — Central Plains 24, Sterling 16. Fouled out — Central Plains (Holmes); Sterling (None).

Hilltop Hoops Classic

Sterling 66, Central Plains 56
Southeast of Saline 66, Ness City 59

Central Plains 58, Southeast of Saline 33
Sterling 67, Ness City 25

Central Plains 64, Ness City 30
Sterling 63, Southeast of Saline 47