DODGE CITY — It took the Elyria Christian Eagles some time, but once they got going, they flew to victory 53-42 Wednesday night.
The Axtell Eagles took a 2-0 lead early, which they held until five minutes remained in the first. That’s when Elyria Christian got on the board with a 3-pointer.
They never looked back. Elyria shot 60.5 percent from the field and led by as many as 18 points in their victory Wednesday night.
Senior Tyler Thiessen led Elyria with 16 points, and was one of three scorers for his team in double-digits. Junior Aiden Fields had 14 points and junior Caleb Froese had 13.
Playing in United Wireless Arena was quite the change for Elyria Christian, head coach Zach Goodrich said.
“It’s our first time here and in the bigger gym,” Goodrich said. “We play in maybe an 800 (capacity) gym, and so I definitely was anxious to see what we would do. I think we came out a little nervous and kind of settled in after we hit a of couple shots and got a few stops.”
He said he told his team it was OK to be a little nervous but hoped they could overcome it early.
Elyria took a 45-27 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Axtell made 11 straight points to cut the deficit to just nine points before Elyria took a timeout with 5:46 remaining.
That run came largely off the hands of Axtell sophomore Quinn Buessing. He had a game-high 26 points, and 10 rebounds, shooting 9 of 15 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3-point territory.
“We watched him on film and he just has that nice, quick release,” Goodrich said. “One thing we wanted to do (was) just make it hard on the catch. With a young man like that, they’re gonna hit shots; he’s a fine young player, and so there’s some times you can do things and some times we weren’t doing our job of being there on the catch and he was able to get a clean look.”
That was something the team talked about not allowing, Goodrich said.
“Two of ’em we did have a hand in his face, but you give a player like him a clean look then he starts rolling and you saw him hit three in a row,” Goodrich said.
With the win, Goodrich’s Eagles will play in the game scheduled for 8:15 Friday. Goodrich said he’d like to see his team come out a little better in that game despite the atmosphere of United Wireless Arena.
“I think we can pass the ball a little bit better,” Goodrich said. “Give Axtell credit: They put some pressure on us, but we have some guys that are a little bit taller and have some size so I would like the passes to be in the post, find cleaner looks and when people dive find that cutter and then you get the easy two.”