GOODLAND, Kan. -- The McCook High School girls basketball "high" from the end of last year is carrying over to this season.
The Bison girls improved to 4-0 on the young season after the Bison won three games in three days in the Topside Tip-Off Tournament played Dec. 6-8 in Goodland, Kan. McCook won the tournament title with a 59-52 decision over Ottawa, Kan., Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Max Jones Fieldhouse in Goodland.
The Bison advanced to the finals with a 64-29 romp past Wallace County, Kan. Friday, Dec. 7.
McCOOK head coach Jeff Ellis said his team enjoyed a "great weekend" of basketball on the Kansas trip.
"The girls played well. Just having the right mindset when we left town paid off big for us and got us a championship," he said. "It feels amazing. This just reiterates the fact that we kind of picked up where we left off last season. We finished last year on a great run, winning districts and getting to the state tournament.
"We've got some things we can improve on -- every team does. But we've been looking pretty solid and we've been playing really good basketball, and I'm proud of the girls for that."
McCook held a 41-39 lead after three quarters against Ottawa Saturday, but the Bison girls wouldn't let let previous season's deja vu derail the tourney title hopes in the closing eight minutes. McCook outscored the Cyclones 18-13 in the fourth period to seal the win.
"In the fourth quarter we looked more confident and savvy than maybe we've looked in the past," Ellis said. "That's a sign of growth -- that fourth quarter in the championship game where we were playing a really good basketball team, and things got tight, and our girls didn't panic. Their poise and their maturity kind of showed up."
"It was pleasing just to know that whole entire gymnasium saw our girls growing up right in front of our eyes, and we were rewarded for that with the tournament championship."
Ottawa's girls had won four straight Goodland tournament titles entering this season, while McCook had not advanced to the Topside Tip-Off title game since 2003, when the Bison girls nipped Ottawa 47-46 for the championship.
"This will just give the girls a boost of confidence," Ellis said. "We've seen Ottawa teams the last four years just beating up on people.
"When we are matched up against a high-caliber team like that we are going to be able to look back on the success we had in this game. We beat a pretty good basketball team in the championship game. We're going to be able to use that as momentum in the middle part of the season."
After a 6-6 tie, McCook scored to take the lead, and the Bison never trailed again.
Brooklynn Trew paced McCook with 17 points Saturday, and Megan Ruppert added 12 points. Madison Chitwood hauled down 8 rebounds.
IN FRIDAY'S win over Wallace County, McCook jumped to a 20-8 lead after one quarter and never looked back. The Bison stretched the lead to 26-21 at halftime before outscoring Wallace County 12-5 in the third period to widen the gap to 48-26.
Ruppert led McCook with 15 points. Kassidy Gillen added 12 points and Trew had 10. Molly Sughroue led the Bison with 5 rebounds.
Coach Ellis said he was expecting a much tougher game Friday. He credited his squad for buying in to the team's scouting report put together by the coaching staff after watching Wallace County's first-round win Thursday.
"The girls bought into the scouting report that we put together while we were down there," Ellis said. "We did not have much time to prepare. The girls honed into what we needed to do to be successful.
"I'm proud of their mentality for three straight days down there. They responded exactly how we wanted them to do all weekend in Goodland."