By Cora Tasset
The Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team used a strong push in the fourth quarter Saturday against Emporia State University to reach the title game of the MIAA tournament on Sunday.
The Tigers edged the Hornets 77-72 at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“A lot of teams would have just quit, but our kids didn’t and that’s the sign of a championship team,” said FHSU coach Tony Hobson. “Jaden (Hobbs) was pretty special in this game, playing 40 minutes and it was either give Jaden a rest or let her win the game. So I thought I would rather have a tired winner than her being rested and not being able to win this game.”
Hobbs finished with 18 points, eight assists, four rebounds and a steal. She shot 100% from the free-throw line as well.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and we just had to weather that storm. We did the best that we could, and we came out on top,” Hobbs said. “My teammates did a good job of finding me when I was open, and coach did a good job of calling those plays to get me in a good position to shoot.”
Other leaders against the Hornets were senior guard Madison Mittie and freshman guard Katie Wagner. Mittie had 13 points, three rebounds, two steals and a block. Wagner also chipped in 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and a block.
“We had a lot of big plays by different people. Katie and Mattie were really solid tonight and had some good plays,” Hobson said. “These kids have really stepped up, and we’ve just kept on doing what we need to do and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
After the first quarter, the Tigers led the Hornets 18-16. By halftime, Fort Hays widened its lead to 31-26.
“We got into a bit of a funk on defense, and we were confused on a couple things we were doing and they started running different things after half,” Hobson said. “They have really good shooters and made just a big run on us, and I thought our kids did a great job and played as hard as they could.”
During the third quarter, Emporia scored 26 points, bringing the game to a 52-52 tie. Emporia took the lead shortly into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers made the plays down the stretch to advance.
“Nothing would be sweeter than winning this on our home court and getting the chance to cut down the net on our floor,” Hobbs said. “We are just excited, and we need to get some rest and get prepared for tomorrow, so we will see who comes out on top.”
The Tigers will be playing in the MIAA finals Sunday against the University of Nebraska-Kearney at 2 p.m.