No. 3 Mid-Buchanan again ousts Lady Chiefs
KANSAS CITY -- History repeated itself Wednesday for the Santa Fe girls' basketball team.
A year after seeing a nine-point lead disappear in the closing three minutes of a loss to Mid-Buchanan in the MSHSAA Class 2 Sectional at Kansas City, the ninth-ranked Lady Chiefs suffered another fourth-quarter collapse to fall to the No. 3 Lady Dragons, 70-58.
"The press never quits," observed Santa Fe head coach Jeremy Hobbs, whose team surrendered 30 points on 29 turnovers. "I thought we were better and more consistent early.
"I don't think it physically wore us down," he explained. "I think it mentally wore us down toward the end."
The loss closes the books on a senior class that posted a 102-14 record -- 24-4 for two regular season I-70 Conference championships -- won four district titles and the last three league tournament crowns.
"Those seniors were not just pillars of our team, but pillars of our program," Hobbs said of his four upperclassmen, led by all-state forward Sadie Limback. "Obviously a cornerstone in the statistical area, but she's so much more than that -- her leadership and competitiveness."
Ball control has long been a challenge for a team without a true point guard, and Mid-Buchanan exploited it from the start -- four takeaways propelling it to a 7-4 start. However, when the Lady Chiefs got the ball across the center line, they were able to use Limback's inside strength for six buckets to end the first quarter with a four-point lead.
The margin grew to seven points early in the second period, but three-pointers by senior Jill Rumpf and junior Gracie Livengood kick-started the Lady Dragons' 21-7 closing run to the break. Santa Fe didn't make a field goal over the final six minutes of the half, committing six straight turnovers after Limback was forced to sit last six minutes with three fouls.
"It's not the situation we wanted to be in," Hobbs conceded. "A credit to her teammates: we could have collapsed right there. It exploded on us, but it could have been over, and it wasn't."
With Limback back and junior Josey Burton getting to the free-throw line -- she would go 10-for-10 from the stripe-- the Lady Chiefs fought back to tie the game at 56-all on Burton's lay-up with 4:21 left in the game.
Santa Fe only had one more goal the rest of the way. While the Lady Chiefs turned the ball over on six of their next seven possessions, Mid-Buchanan scored 10 straight points until Burton finished a fast break with 52 seconds remaining -- not nearly enough for a comeback.
Rumpf finished with 32 points, six rebounds, seven assists and seven steals to lead the Lady Dragons (27-2) in each of those categories. They travel to Liberty for a quarterfinal contest Saturday against Tipton.
Limback wound up with 30 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots for Santa Fe (24-5), which also got 20 points from Burton. Because the tight man-to-man defense, the Lady Chiefs only attempted six three-point shots -- making one, compared to eight for Mid-Buchanan.
Santa Fe will head into next season a much different team than the one that has been to the playoffs four years in a row -- twice reaching the quarterfinals -- with Burton and sophomore Carrigan Smith the only proven scorers. Hobbs assured that help is coming.
"I really like the pieces we have coming back," Hobbs asserted. "One of the best things is that we had the biggest freshman class we've had in the decade I've been coaching.
"For that number of freshmen to experience these older kids and the leadership of the seniors will do nothing but make them better," he explained. "I'm optimistic we'll have some kids to put out there and hopefully be competitive."
Contact Chris Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org