The Moundridge girls clinched the Heart of America League title on Tuesday, but they certainly earned it.
The Wildcats were given a push throughout the night, but outlasted Ell-Saline 40-34 to move to 16-2 on the year and 9-0 in the HOA.
Moundridge, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, was paced by Michelle Schrag with 15 points, making 7 of 9 floor shots. Ashley Holler chipped in with 14.
MHS was up only 19-17 at the half, but strafed the Cardinals with their third-quarter defense, giving up just three points and pushing the lead to 12.
The Cardinals entered the game with just one HOA win.
• Moundridge boys 55, Ell-Saline 46 — The Wildcat boys continued their recent turnaround, as they shook off the pesky Cardinals with a solid second half.
The third quarter turned the tide as the Wildcats outscored the Cardinals 18-11.
MHS’ Colton Frazer was a load inside with 24 points, dropping in 10 of 14 shots. Anthony Otte supplied 12 and Alejandro Jimenez just missed doubles with nine.
• Hesston boys 70, Hoisington 41 — Back-to-back 19-point quarters in the second half enabled the Swathers to pull away to the easy win.
Tyler McCartney was white-hot from the outside, making three 3-pointers on his way to 23 points, 14 of those coming in the first half. Grant Raleigh furnished 14 points and Scott Duerksen was in doubles with 10.
• Hesston girls 53, Hoisington 14 — The No. 1-ranked Class 3A Swathers remained undefeated and unchallenged.
It was over after a quarter as the Swathers sped to a 16-2 lead. Hesston’s defense was suffocating, especially in the fourth quarter when it didn’t allow a point.
Cami Richardson paced Hesston with 15 points and Kelsey Unruh added 13.
• Bennington boys 49, Canton-Galva 48 — It would have been the upset of the year in the HOA.
Canton-Galva’s spirited Eagles had the HOA champions on the ropes, leading the Bulldogs by two with 14 seconds to go. But Bennington nailed a contested 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go for the winner. Travis Unruh had a chance to win it, but his shot was just off.
“To have the opportunity to play a state-ranked team and league champion on our court for the final league game of the year is something we were excited about,” C-G coach Shane Duncan said. “Both teams made enough plays to win the game, Bennington just came up with one more. These boys are a lot of fun to coach. I couldn't be more proud of the fight we showed tonight.”
Tanner Klingensmith and Nick Bray scored 12 points apiece, with Bray’s coming on four treys. The tenacious Klingensmith came up with 10 rebounds to complete his double-double. Unruh had a tremendous floor game with eight assists. C-G excelled at the line by making 13 of 16.
• Bennington girls 48, Canton-Galva 39 — The Eagles held the Bulldogs to 13 first-half points to take a 3-point lead into halftime, but Bennington came alive offensively, especially with a 22-point fourth quarter.
Cassidy Enns’ 16 points led the Eagles.
• Peabody boys 59, Little River 54 — The Redskins were in control going into the fourth quarter, but the Warriors erupted for 21 points to snatch the victory away.
The Redskins flashed to a 19-8 first-quarter lead, but the Warriors steadily bit into it and outscored Little River by nine in the final period.
Little River lost despite nice balance. Grant Harvey scored 16 points, Zach Galyon 15 and Chord Zeller 11.
• Peabody girls 39, Little River 27 — The Redskins battled to the end, outscoring the Warriors 11-2 in the final quarter.
Allie Peters led the Redskins with 10 points.
• Sterling boys 80, Smoky Valley 57 — The final score is no way indicative of how competitive the game was.
Smoky was down just two at the half and by six going into the fourth quarter when Sterling exploded for 31 points.
Nick Reinert scored 15 points for the Vikes and Cole Norberg added 10.
• Sterling girls 67, Smoky Valley 29 — Sterling scored 46 points in the first half and cruised to the win. Hannah Hattabaugh had eight points and nine rebounds in defeat.
• Trinity boys 31, Inman 30 — The Teutons had a chance to win, but the Celtics avoided the upset.
“Let it slip away,” Inman coach Brett Froese said. “Too many turnovers late. Kids played really really hard. Proud of my kids. Trinity is physical and aggressive, and we matched that for most of the game.”
• Inman did not report any information on the girls’ game.
Elyria Christian had the night off.