SEDALIA — As Lauren Harris started to count down, she started to feel better.
It didn’t matter that Kickapoo inched closer; she had the state tournament in her sights.
Harris finished what Jodi Bolerjack started, and the Kewpies defeated the Chiefs 55-40 in a Class 5 quarterfinal game Saturday at State Fair Community College.
Hickman, ranked 10th in the nation and winner of 18 straight, will play Lee’s Summit in the semifinals of the Class 5 state tournament Friday at 6:20 p.m. at Hearnes Center.
“We were getting closer and closer,” Harris said. “I was like, ‘This is it.’
“We’re going to the championship. Even though (Kailey Mock) hit that shot, I was too determined.”
Mock’s jumper with nine-tenths of a second left in the third quarter cut the Kewpies’ lead to 38-30.
Greta Wiersch moved Kickapoo (26-3 and 15th in the country) within six, capping a 8-0 run with 6:14 left.
That’s as close as the Chiefs would get.
Harris, a 6-foot-2 center, took control. Spinning toward the middle instead of the baseline, Harris scored on Hickman’s next two possessions. On the second possession, Harris rebounded her miss, scored and was fouled.
The Kewpies secured the win, making 15-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we were a little passive in the third quarter,” Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said. “But we weathered the storm and got the ball back to Harris.
“Late in the game, I thought she got two good muscle looks inside that were really key. She never backs down from anything.”
Despite picking up her fourth foul with about four minutes left, Harris didn’t relent. She had three of her nine blocks late in the fourth quarter.
“She was huge,” Hickman’s Kaela Rorvig said. “Playing with four fouls, she had the confidence to go out there and still block shots.”
Jodi Bolerjack got Hickman rolling, scoring its first eight points.
Bolerjack finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds.
“We lit it up early with J-Bo,” Mirts said. “Jodi Bolerjack came to play.”
Defensively, Hickman frustrated Kickapoo throughout the game.
All-State guard Molly Carter finished with 10 points, six of which came from the free-throw line. Mock scored all eight of her points in the third quarter.
“If Kickapoo was going to beat us it wasn’t going to be with Mock or Carter,” Mirts said. “That was the agenda. They’re great players and when the pressure is on they look to try to take it to the hole.
“(Mock) got a couple late in the game, but she didn’t get started until it was too late. (Rorvig) took Mock out of her game.”
Harris finished with 13 points. Amy Bolerjack had six points and seven rebounds.
“(Hickman’s) got the inside game and the outside game and they’ve got great defense,” Kickapoo coach Stephanie Phillips said. “They’re just a team.
“That’s why we go out to play it. That’s what we all work for is to get our groups to be like that. They’ve reached that this year. Their chemistry is incredible.”