Hilldale THE WAY IT WAS

Hilldale’s Katie Kirkhart scores over two Plainview defenders in the 2016 Class 4A quarterfinal win, Hilldale’s first and only win in state tournament history.

BETHANY — Whether it was the fact the two teams played a year ago with a state berth on the line, or the fact Hilldale had a year’s exposure to playing in the tournament, the Lady Hornets came out loose in Thursday’s Class 4A quarterfinal game at Southern Nazarene University’s Sawyer Center.

Plainview, on the other hand, didn’t, and the first-quarter hole the Indians dug themselves into proved insurmountable.

Katie Kirkhart had 22 points and Kenzie Mize 18 as the Lady Hornets moved beyond last year’s first-ever state experience with a first-ever trip to the semifinals, winning 57-48 in a rematch of an area consolation final a year ago at Henryetta.

“We learned (last year) if you try and go out and be safe, you’re in trouble. You can’t tense up. You just go and play,” said Hilldale coach Scott Hensley, his fifth-ranked team now 25-4 and will play Harrah in the semifinals Friday.

“It helped that we were kind of familiar with who they were.”

Plainview fell behind 13-0, missing its first nine shots. On the other side, Katie Kirkhart hit a pair of baskets before capping a streak of 3s, the first two by Madyson Eichling and Kenzie Mize, peaking that lead with 3:47 to go in the first quarter.

Rebecca Wright connected from the top of the circle with 2:15 left in the period for the Lady Indians’ first basket. She was almost all of Plainview’s offense in the first half with 10 points as the Lady Indians were 5-of-26 (19 percent) for the half.

Senior guard Megan Shelton, who led her team with 16 in the 50-39 loss a year ago, awoke from a 1-of-7 slumber in the first half with 20 of her 22 points in the second on 8-of-12 shooting. Her drive to the basket with 3:59 to play made it a four-point game at 46-42. 

Kirkhart took the inbounds pass for a coast-to-coast trip, swishing a jumper from inside the free-throw circle with 3:45 to go, and it would not get closer.

“We knew they would keep fighting, I mean, that’s why they’re here and we knew they wouldn’t give up that easy,” Kirkhart said.”We stuck to our game plan.”

Added Hensley: “We knew (Wright) was a really good player and (Shelton and Ally Parham) could shoot the lights out. They got good looks early but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen for you.”

Parham, who was scoreless in the first half, had three 3s in the second half.

Plainview finished with five points on what would be a 7-0 run going into the second quarter. Mize drained a 3 from the top of the circle with 6:09 to go to stem that push. It was 22-13 at the half.

“Beating them before, we knew we could do it again. But playing in state with the crowd and experiencing that, knowing you’ve been there before helped just as much,” Mize said.

Along with a first-ever semifinal, Hilldale will get their first taste of the Big House on the State Fairgrounds.

“Just to touch the floor is pretty exciting,” Kirkhart said. “But like I told them in the locker room, we’ve got two more to play.”

Plainview ends its season at 26-2.

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