Paxton coach Jody Rhodes wasn’t sure what to expect from his team Saturday night in the D1-11 Subdistrict final at St. Pat’s.
A winter storm had postponed the final for two days and Paxton called school off on Thursday and Friday, meaning Rhodes didn’t see his team or practice on those days.
“The guys were ready,” Rhodes said. “They looked good. I was really happy about that because I spend a lot of time worrying if we were going to be ready.”
Paxton routed Stapleton-McPherson County 68-28 in the final to advance to Tuesday’s D1-6 District Final against Potter-Dix. That game will be held at Chappell at a time to be determined.
The Cyclones kept the game close early, as Paxton led just 13-10 with 2 minutes to play in the first quarter. However, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to close the stanza and lead 20-10 heading into the second period.
Paxton kept the pressure on in the second quarter. SMC got a pair of free throws early, but it was the only points the Cyclones would score in quarter as Paxton raced out to a 35-12 halftime edge.
SMC got just four points in the third quarter as the Tigers increased the margin to 53-16 going into the final period.
“SMC started the game really patient against our press,” Rhodes said.
“I don’t know why, but they started rushing and we were able to get some steals and put together that run in the first quarter, which got us going.
“I was really pleased with our defense. We played well on perimeter defense and post defense.
“We had to get after it on defense because SMC has some players who can shoot really well if they are left open.”
Paxton also hit the boards hard all game, aware that SMC is a good rebounding team.
“We won the battle of the boards, which was very important,” Rhodes said. “I tell you what, I spent a long two days watching film of SMC and worrying about what we were going to do.
“They are a very capable team and I was worried after not seeing the team for two days.”
Now Paxton gets to play Potter-Dix in the district final, a team the Tigers defeated 90-34 early in the season, back in December.
“We can’t worry about what they will do, so we won’t watch any film of them,” Rhodes said. “We got to just worry about ourselves, since the turnaround time is so short.
“We’ll enjoy this one, practice some on Monday and go play them. They are after the same thing we are, a place in the state tournament.”
Paxton improved to 24-0 on the season and will be a big favorite against Potter-Dix (9-13).
Cody Corfield and Zachary Moreland led the Tigers on Saturday with 15 points each. Tristan Brott added 11 and Kyle Storer chipped in with eight for Paxton.
SMC (11-11) was led by Alex Hinkle with nine points. Logan Paben and Austin Starr each added five.