Tigers roll past Hillcats, move to 2-0 in MIAA play

BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
PHOTOS BY MADISON SHAPLAND

With an 84-42 win against Rogers State on Saturday afternoon, Fort Hays women’s basketball is now 2-0 against conference opponents, winning the two games by an average of 39 points.

The Tigers (6-3, 2-0 MIAA) are now 7-0 against the Hillcats since RSU joined the MIAA in 2020. All but two of the seven games have been won by 25 or more points.

“We were really just trying to get better in all aspects,” said sophomore forward Olivia Hollenbeck. 

FHSU got ahead early in the game and never looked back. After taking an 18-10 lead in the first quarter, they outscored the Hillcats 24-12 to close out the half. The Tigers kept the pedal down in the second half, scoring 42 points to RSU’s 21.

“I think we did a really good job of having great passes in the second half,” Hollenbeck said. “My teammates did a really good job of getting it in [to the post].”

Hollenbeck led all scorers with 18 points. She also recorded three blocks, putting her over 100 for her career. Katie Wagner was the next highest-scoring Tiger with 17 points. Megan Earney had 12, all coming from three-point shots in the last four minutes of play, and Clary Donica finished with nine.

It was a good game on both sides of the ball for the Tigers. On offense, they shot 44.6 percent overall and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. FHSU scored 36 of their points in the paint, while 25 were scored off of 21 Hillcat turnovers. FHSU also totaled 23 assists, led by Ellie Stearns and Kate Dilsaver who dished out six each.

Of the 21 turnovers forced by the Tiger defense, two were from shot clock violations and one from a five-second violation. In addition, FHSU grabbed six steals and pulled down 47 total rebounds.

FHSU entered MIAA play at 5-3 after a competitive non-conference schedule, which helped prepare the team for the rigors of conference play, according to Hollenbeck. 

“We had a tough preseason, which is definitely what you want,” Hollenbeck said. “I think now we’re trying to get some loose ends together. We’re doing a lot of really good things, but we weren’t connecting all of our passes and turning it over, so we’re trying to be more consistent there.”

The Tigers will hit the road on December 10 and 11 for their next two games. Up first will be Missouri Western, the team that knocked off FHSU in the regional tournament championship last season.

“Just taking it day-by-day is the biggest thing,” Hollenbeck said. “Every team in our conference can’t be overlooked, they’re all great teams. Continuing to finish inside has been big, and getting the inside to out game too.”

Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m. next Saturday in St. Joseph, Missouri. 

Olivia Hollenbeck tips off the Lady Tiger game against Roger State. “We had a hard preseason where we played some good teams and faced a couple losses, which is a good thing. The last few weeks we’ve been using that to connect the loose ends,” Hollenbeck said. “Tonight we did a really good job of being in tune with each other. We got a lot of inside out looks, our defense and press was a lot better too. This was big, we’ve been building a lot and tonight saw it pay off.”
Sydney Golladay takes the ball and starts an offensive play.
Hollenbeck goes in for a contested layup. She hit 100 career blocks during the matchup. “It feels good,” said Hollenbeck. “Honestly I didn’t even know I was close to hitting that mark. But what makes it so fun is the community we have and the support I’ve felt from them.”
Katie Wagner considers which move to use against a Roger State defender.
Jessie Sallach scores 2 points over the hands of Hillcats.
Brooke Loewe drives to the opposition’s 3 point line.
Megan Earney pulls up for her 3rd made 3 in a row. “It comes down to my teammates giving me the ball in the right spot,” Earney said. “They hype me up like no one else. We have such a fun atmosphere too. I couldn’t do any of it without them.”
On defense, Emma Ruddle eyes down her assignment.
Wagner puts up a shot by the block.
The Tigers and Hillcats fight over a rebound during the game.
Whitney Brown takes the ball over half court.
During a fast break, Ellie Stearns takes an open lay up.
Kia Wilson fights through Rogers State defenders for a shot in the paint.
Brown lines up for a free throw. “Tonight felt good, said Earney. We struggled a little early on so it was good to get our confidence up, especially before conference play. We have a tough couple of games coming up so tonight’s win is important for our attitudes going into those competitions.
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