RILEY — Usually when a team’s best player is held scoreless early, there is trouble. Not every team is Riley County, though.
Senior Kelly Thomson, who signed to play at Kansas State next year, was held without a field goal in the first quarter.
But her teammates carried on.
The Falcons led by 10 points going in the second period and it was a run-away after that.
Riley County demolished McLouth 79-15 Tuesday night in the opening round of sub-state action.
Thomson quickly worked out the kinks after the first quarter and led the game in scoring with 23 points. Fellow senior Rachel Rheaume added 20 points.
Just three players from McLouth (3-16) scored a basket, with senior Morgan Drinnon leading the way with seven points, while junior Kaitlyn Hullinger added six. Senior Terri Stewart posted the Bulldogs’ remaining two points.
The No. 1-seeded Falcons, who scored 29 points in the third quarter alone, remained undefeated at 20-0.
“We really came out in the second half and established more of a defensive rhythm,” Riley County coach Harold Oliver said. “We felt like we picked it up a notch to start the third quarter. We weren’t real pleased with the way we started the game particularly defensively. We were cold shooting and that’s going to happen sometimes — but we felt really good about the second half.”
Oliver praised the way his players attacked offensively. While Rheaume and Thomson combined for 43 points, seven other players found the bucket.
“We have a lot of people who can score the ball,” he said. “Kelly didn’t shoot well (early) but Rachel is playing tremendously well. She’s converting and she’s a really, really difficult stop.
“But we have other people we can spread the ball to. Everyone on our team is looking for each other. All those kids can shoot the basketball. We have a lot of depth at shooting the basketball.”
After leading the first half 32-13 the Falcons blasted away following the break.
Thomson opened the third quarter with three straight field goals and Rheaume added a basket plus a free throw make widen the lead to 40-13.
Perimeter shooting from Thomson, sophomore Katelyn Thomson and sophomore Madison Vargo pushed Riley County to a 48-point advantage going into the final period. But the scoring just kept coming down the backstretch, with additional 3-pointers from sophomore Taylor Oliver.
McLouth made its only baskets in the second half when Hullinger was 2-for-2 at the free throw line with 2 minutes left in the game. At that point, Riley County was in the lead 70-15.
An aforementioned trey from Oliver and layups the rest of the way put the 64-point win in the books for the Falcons.
“We’re playing really well and the kids are extremely confident,” Oliver said. “One of the things that helps us is that the kids have really good chemistry.
“The kids really play together well and they care about each other and are in it for the team. We got a couple tough games ahead of us yet, in sub-state, but hopefully we can out of there and see if we can do something after that.
“They haven’t won a state championship yet.”
Riley County will play at St. Marys on Friday night. The Bears (11-9) defeated No. 5-seed Council Grove 44-40 on Tuesday.
RILEY CO. 79, McLOUTH 15
McLouth 6 7 0 2 — 15
Riley County 16 16 29 18 — 79
McLOUTH (15) — Drinnon 7, Hullinger 6, Stewart 2.
RILEY COUNTY (79) — Kelly Thomson 23, Rheaume 20, Oliver 8, Phebus 8, Madison Vargo 7, Makayla Vargo 5, Katelyn Thomson 3, Prockish 3, Martin 2.
3-pointers — McLouth (none); Riley County 6 (Kelly Thomson 2, Oliver 2, Katelyn Thomson, Madison. Vargo).