Lady Wildcats handled Hardin-Central 62-45 Thursday night before their Wildcats counterparts were routed 60-36 by Winston in the boys' title game of the Class 1 District 13 Tournament at Braymer

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
BRAYMER, Mo. — Although both received an argument for more than a quarter, the top seeds of the Class 1 District 13 high school basketball tournament opened significant daylight before halftime Thursday night and rolled on to their expected triumphs and trips to the 2017-18 state tournament.
Powered by its double-doubling All-State duo, Southwest Livingston’s Lady Wildcats zapped upset-minded Hardin-Central with 13 consecutive points – 11 in a mere 82 seconds – to invert a 16-13 deficit into a 26-16 lead late in the second stanza on their way to an eventual 62-45 verdict and third district title in four years.
Winston’s Cardinals then stymied Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats without a basket for well over a quarter to convert a 16-11 second-period advantage into a 39-16 chasm after three frames before prevailing 60-36.
With the triumphs, Southwest Livingston’s girls (22-3) and Winston’s boys head to the state tourney, starting with sectional-round games at Civic Arena in St. Joseph next Tuesday night. Their opponents will be the yet-to-be-determined District 14 champions – most likely Worth County in both cases.
Tuesday’s play at St. Joseph will begin with the girls’ game at 6:30 p.m.
The distaff district-championship contest saw the decided-underdog HCHS Lady Bulldogs (17-11) draw first blood and lead a couple of times early before 3-times Southwest Livingston All-Stater Kaylie Campbell popped in back-to-back treys – first from the left corner, then atop the key – just over a minute apart for a 10-6 SLHS lead.
Hardin-Central didn’t blink, however, knotting things at 10 after one stanza and then countering Colee Webb’s three-points play 34 seconds into the second with deuces by Carly Thacker, Lacey Logsdon, and Kylie Manchester for a 16-13 lead with 5:45 remaining in the opening half.
Then, after a lull, lightning struck – figuratively – on a misty, foggy night.
With only two Campbell foul shots in the 2-plus minutes after Manchester’s left-handed short-range shot from the left block, Southwest still trailed as the last half of the second stanza began to play out.
Campbell then latched onto a long, loose-ball rebound on the SLHS defensive end and quickly dashed toward the opposite end of the floor on the dribble. The 5’10” forward heard – or, more likely, sensed that her prep running mate of the past four years, Kortlyn Rounkles, was racing upcourt to her right and, as defenders angled to cut her off, she fed a bounce pass ahead of her to her right where – sure enough – Rounkles ran onto it in full stride. Without needing a dribble, the senior guard who passed 2,000 points for her sterling career in the district semifinals Wednesday laid the ball off the window, making it a 1-point Lady Wildcats lead with 3:35 left before halftime.
Incredibly, before the next 90 seconds of game time had elapsed, Southwest Livingston owned a 10-points lead.
Following that successful Lady Wildcats fast break, Hardin-Central missed a shot and SLHS rebounded. Setting its offense with Campbell on the right block this time, rather than at the top of the key, Southwest used Meredith Oesch’s entry pass to Campbell to begin widening its lead with 3:03 remaining in quarter No. 2.
As Hardin-Central attempted to bring the ball upcourt, the SLHS press interceded – Oesch making a steal and getting the ball ahead to Rounkles, who had been having tough shooting luck until these layup opportunities, for the easy bucket.
The previous play was immediately repeated with the Lady Wildcats forcing a takeaway with their press and getting the ball to the always-at-the-ready Rounkles for another driving deuce – SLHS’ third basket in 28 seconds.
A Hardin-Central timeout did nothing to change things as Southwest Livingston again stole the ball – on the defensive end this time – and quickly Rounkles attacked the rim again. Driving from the right wing in transition, she scored while being fouled and then hit the charity toss.
With the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association conference tourney most valuable player scoring four baskets and 10 of the team’s 13 points in the blazing blitz, Southwest Livingston had rocked Hardin-Central hard.
To the Lady Bulldogs’ credit, they didn’t topple from the lightning strike, but neither were they able to fashion a seriously-threatening response the rest of the night.
Ahead 29-20 at halftime, Southwest used an Oesch shot from the left wing and another driving, three-points play by Rounkles in the first 25 ticks of the second half to lie to rest any doubt about where the game ultimately was headed.
When the SLHS star guard rainbowed in a 23-foot trifecta with 2:34 to go in the third quarter, the margin had grown to an even 20 points, 46-26. It became a game-high 21 points – 48-27 – in the last minute of the stanza when Rounkles struck yet again, following her 11-points second-quarter performance with a dozen more in the third.
Hardin-Central continued to stick with its pound-the-ball-inside offensive approach and manage to whittle away some of its sizable deficit in the last frame. However, the nearest it got was a 14-points margin a couple of times and at game’s end it was 17.
Statistically, Rounkles’ slow shooting start still didn’t prevent her from going beyond 30 points or having a points-rebounds double-double. After tallying only two in the first quarter, she ended the night with a game-high 32 markers while also snaring 10 caroms, earning three assists and blocking three shots.
After netting eight in the opening segment, Campbell finished with 18 points to go with 14 rebounds, six shot blocks, and five assists. Oesch contributed seven points off the bench and Colee Webb collected six boards, according to SLHS coach Julie Bothwell’s video review.
Hardin-Central was led in scoring by sophomore Carly Thacker with 19. Julie Finley added 12 for the Lady Bulldogs, who had lost to SLHS by about 30 in the second week of the season.
Thursday’s boys’ championship game deteriorated into more of a runaway when the pressure valve popped.
Trailing 14-8 after one period and 16-8 early in the second, Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats (21-5) received a left-wing triple from junior guard Nate Reith and then had possession twice more with a chance to reduce to 5-points gap even more.
When it didn’t, the sharp-executing, patient WHS boys kicked it into another gear defensively.
That Reith trey would be SLHS’ only scoring of the quarter as it was shut out for the last 6-1/2 minutes to fall behind 25-11 at the mid-game stoppage.
The Wildcats’ woes on offense dragged on deep into the third period, their stretch without a field goal eventually surpassing 10 minutes of game time before senior guard Christian Reed ended it.
By then, too much damage had been inflicted by WHS, which seized a 39-16 lead after three and coasted in from there, despite a 20-points fourth-quarter awakening by the Wildcats.
Statistically, Southwest Livingston did not cope with Winston’s outside shooting and quickness.
The Cardinals’ “big two” – Cy Uthe and Jacob Lewis – accounted for 80 percent of the team’s points, splitting them almost down the middle. Lewis finished with 25 and Uthe with 23.
SLHS’ Wildcats got 12 points and 12 rebounds from tall sophomore Mack Anderson, who was subjected to triple-teaming any time the ball came to him around the paint. Wyatt Maddux had eight boards and Peyton Hein a handful of helpers in the finale of the team’s most-outstanding season in many, many years.