Sitting on the bench never felt more comfortable for Hickman coach Tonya Mirts.
The Kewpies built up a commanding first-quarter lead and rolled to a 53-28 win against Lee's Summit on Friday in the Class 5 state semifinals at Hearnes Center.
Amy Bolerjack, a senior guard, scored eight points as Hickman (30-1) opened the first quarter on an 18-0 run. The Tigers (23-6) made their first field goal with 33 seconds left in the quarter.
The Kewpies, ranked No. 9 in the USA Today poll and winners of 19 straight, play St. Joseph's Academy in the Class 5 state championship today at 6:30 p.m. Hickman beat the Angels 48-46 on Jan. 19.
"I thought the start was great," Mirts said. "For a coach it feels pretty good when you're sitting up 18-0 when you're at the Hearnes Center. That made me relax quite a bit. I got to sit down on the bench a whole lot more. I'm usually squatting and chewing my nails. I feel a little bit more comfortable when we're ahead by 16 then down by 16."
After the quick start, Hickman went eight minutes without a field goal, but sustained its lead with an intense half-court defense. The Kewpies forced Lee's Summit to spread its offense and didn't allow any uncontested attempts inside.
The Tigers shot 14.8 percent from the field and Megan Nyquist, an Illinois recruit, scored two points in the first half.
"Defensively, I thought we picked up their offense really well," Mirts said. "Kaela (Rorvig) didn't give Nyquist a look early and (Lauren) Harris was just suburb on the block preventing (Ashley) Patterson from getting any easy looks under the basket."
Lee's Summit made two 3-pointers to open the second half, but 12 points would be as close as it got.
"I felt like if we could get one more stop and cut it to single digits we might get a little momentum and get things rolling," Lee's Summit coach Brian Bubalo said. "They just never allowed that to happen, every time we cut it to 12 they were able to answer."
Hickman countered with Harris, a senior center, and senior guard Jodi Bolerjack.
Harris finished with 11 points and had three of her seven blocks in the third quarter.
Bolerjack struggled to find an open jump shot and cut inside instead. She scored a game-high 15, shooting 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Bolerjack also had seven rebounds and six assists.
"When they're playing tight like that you have to drive and create things," Jodi Bolerjack said. "When I drove, they fouled."
Nyquist paced Lee's Summit with 12 points. Ashley Patterson had 10 rebounds and didn't score. The Tigers play Incarnate Word in the Class 5 third place game at 4:30 p.m.
"We couldn't make shots," Bubalo said. "I thought we looked a little shaky. We might have been a tad nervous, but a lot of it was their defense too. We had trouble getting Megan open. We tried a lot of different things, but they were always right there. She didn't get very many good looks all night long. Their defense was very, very stingy tonight."