HAVEN — The last game in the first-round of the 46th annual Wildcat Classic ended up being the best of the day. It went in favor of the host team.
The No. 4 seed Haven Wildcats girls’ basketball team (9-2) took on No. 5 Moundridge (8-3) for a chance to play the top-seeded Nickerson team in the semis on Friday.The first half had five ties and as many lead changes.
However, Haven found its groove in third quarter when Moundridge’s longball stopped connecting. Up until then, the 3-pointer had been Moundridge’s saving grace.
Haven outscored Moundridge 15-4 in the third quarter en route to a 50-36 win.
“It took us a while to get adjusted … third quarter we made some shots and started to get things going,” Haven coach Dwight Roper said. “Everything looks better when you’re making shots.”
Kourtney Kaufman, who finished with a game-high 15 points, scored all nine points for Moundridge in the first quarter.
The sophomore shot 3-of-4 from downtown in the opening quarter. The final shot banked off the backboard as the buzzer sounded to close out the quarter down 10-9.
The second quarter saw three ties and four lead changes.Moundridge knotted the game at 10-all off a free throw from Hailey Unruh, who finished with nine points. At the seven minute mark, Keira Sebrant put Moundridge out ahead for the first time since the opening bucket.
Then, Haven’s Maguire Estill made a turnaround bucket to knot the game at 12-all with 6:40 left in the half. Faith Paramore, who finished with a team-high 12 points, followed it up with a 3-pointer to put Haven out front 15-12 with 5:34 left.
Moundridge came back with an 8-0 run with baskets from Unruh, the go-ahead on a 3-pointer by Kaufman and another triple from Kaela Helms.
Moundridge went up 20-15 — it’s largest lead of the game —with 3:21 left in the half.But Haven ended the half on an 8-2 run that included a traditional 3-point play from Estill and a triple from Kara Matteson. Haven went into the locker rooms up 23-22. Haven opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run and never looked back. Moundridge shot 5-of-11 (45 percent) from downtown in the first half, but finished the game 6-of-21 (29 percent).
“Good, tough tournament,” Roper said. “You gotta play well. You can’t have an off night or you are gonna play on the other side of the bracket.”
Overall, Haven shot 18-of-52 (35 percent) from the floor. Moundridge went 13-of-39 (33 percent).