WAMEGO — The Wamego boys basketball team turned a comfortable lead into a dominating one in the second half and stomped visiting Jefferson West 70-35 Wednesday night.
The victory advances the No. 3-seeded Red Raiders to the the semifinals of Class 4A sub-state action. Wamego (17-4) will play Royal Valley (10-11) — who upset Rock Creek, the No. 2 seed — tonight in Hayden at 6 p.m.
Against Jefferson West, the Red Raiders held a controlling 31-19 lead at halftime, especially after junior Trenton York sunk a tough 3-pointer near the half’s final seconds. But, the gloves came off quickly in the third quarter — a quarter Wamego outscored the Tigers 25-6.
“We cleaned up our play, for one thing,” Red Raiders head coach Troy Hemphill said about his team’s halftime adjustments. “We just had too many possessions in the first half where we didn’t have enough shots at the basket. We had silly travels and things like that. We just couldn’t sustain anything.
“Trenton York hit a big shot at the end of the half and seemed to carry that momentum into the third quarter. I thought we really defended well and our depth got to (Jefferson West) a little bit. We were able to stretch it out.”
Wamego was led by 6-foot-3 senior Issac Poe, who totaled a game-high 14 points. He was followed by senior Dakota Turner with 11 points and Matt Webb — another senior — was also in double-digits with 10 points.
Overall, nine Red Raiders registered a basket.
For the Tigers (11-10), senior Mitchell Beal was the only player in double-figures. He scored 10 points.
Wamego opened the second half with speed and aggression.
Senior Brady Hemphill opened it up with a basket inside plus the foul call, which he converted at the free-throw line. Hemphill again had an eye for the bucket and netted a jumper.
After another defensive stop by Wamego, Turner hit a jump-shot and just like that, the Red Raiders’ 12 point halftime lead grew to a 38-21 advantage barely three minutes into the third quarter.
Jefferson West answered with free-throw makes by Beal and layup from junior Muh’Quille Watts, but the Red Raider defense quickly adjusted and the Wamego offense went on another run — this time to the tune of 18-0, which included two 3-pointers from York.
The Red Raiders kept the foot on the gas pedal the rest of the way.
“We just wanted to play more aggressive and play cleaner,” Hemphill said. “We came out and scored the first five points right away, bang-bang, and instead of turning it over and letting (the Tigers) hang around we hit our shots.
“We were able to get some stuff in the open court and we finished plays.”