By Colin Shields
SALINA – Sweet revenge.
The No. 2 seeded Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team got its third crack at the third-seeded Seward County Saints on Friday at Tony’s Pizza Events Center, as the Blue Dragons and Saints met in the semifinal round of the Region 6 Tournament.
Led by a combined 53 points and 23 rebounds from Tor’e Alford and Mya Williams, the Blue Dragons picked up their first win over the Saints this season and advanced to the championship with a 92-84 victory.
When asked about the guard play, Blue Dragons coach John Ontjes – a former point guard himself – could only smile.
“Guard play is definitely a strength of our team. You can’t say enough about these two (Alford and Williams) and what they did tonight,” Ontjes said. “Tor’e had an outstanding game at the point guard position, she got off to a great start. It’s always nice to have her gain some confidence in making some early baskets, and then of course Mya. You know she was just a rock for us. She was extremely good tonight. I think she had 27 in the game and Tor’e had 26 so without those two tonight it would have been a different game.”
Hutchinson got ahead early with a 10-point first quarter from Alford that built the lead up to eight points at the end of the first quarter.
Early on the Saints seemed determined to keep the ball out of Williams’ hands. That changed in the second quarter, as Williams came out hot, scoring eight points in the second quarter on just four shots. Using those points, the Blue Dragons were able to build their lead up to 12 points.
Seward County found life midway though the second quarter to shrink the lead down to three points, before a jumper from Janaya Washington ended the 9-0 Seward County run.
The half would end with the Blue Dragons stealing the full court inbounds pass and advancing the ball to Alford at the free-throw line, where she would hit the shot as time expired, giving Hutch a 46-39 lead going into halftime.
Hutch would once again come out hot and score 12 points in the first four minutes of the half to take a 15-point lead.
Seward County would once again find an answer as the Saints would bring the lead down to just four points with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter.
The Blue Dragons and Saints would trade baskets the rest of the third quarter with Hutch taking a 68-62 lead into the fourth quarter. Hutchinson would once again come out hot and score the first four points of the fourth quarter building the lead to 10. Seward would mount a comeback attempt late in the fourth that would bring the lead as close as one point, however Hutch never surrendered the lead.
A pair of late Alford free throws extended the lead to eight and it would prove to be enough as the Blue Dragons would score the most points in a game this year.
The Blue Dragons will play Barton at 6 p.m. Saturday night. The win improved the Blue Dragons’ record to 27-5. With a win Saturday, the Blue Dragons will clinch a bid into the NJCAA national championship tournament in Lubbock, Texas.