Cardinals fall short in title game


By Travis Mounts

A slow start, early foul trouble and offensive struggles all game were contributing factors in the Cheney Cardinals’ 59-37 loss to the Goodland Cowgirls in Saturday’s Class 3A State championship, played at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

The Cardinals were trying for their third State title. They won the 4A title in 2010 and the 3A title in 2021, both with undefeated seasons. Cheney closes out the season with a 23-3 record.

The Cowgirls, the defending 3A champions, defended their title with a perfect 26-0 record in the 2022-23 season.

The Cardinals got into foul trouble early. Standout senior Campbell Hague was whistled for a defensive foul just after tipoff, and then was called for an offensive charge in the lane before the game was two minutes. She game back into the game, and was called for her third foul with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

Hague spent the rest of the first half on the bench, and the Cardinals seemed to miss her presence greatly, especially beyond her scoring – Hague is a great defender, both in the lane and on the perimeter. In addition to blocking shots, her presences forces many opponents into altering their shots.

Anna Martin, another senior start, also missed significant time in the first half. She picked up two fouls in the first quarter and another in the second quarter. That took two senior starters out of the game.

At halftime, Goodland led Cheney 30-19. It was a smaller deficit than Cheney faced the day before against Phillipsburg, but Goodland proved to be a different kind of team.

The Cardinals’ offensive struggles continued after halftime, however. The Cowgirls’ size proved to be too much. Goodland has three players at 6-0 or taller. For the first time all season, the Cardinals were at a disadvantage on size.

The Cowgirls came out of halftime on fire, and outscored Cheney 15-7 in the third quarter. Goodland held a 29-18 scoring edge after halftime. 

The Cardinals had no answer for Talexa Weeter of Goodland. She scored a game-high 31 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and was 11-for-22 from the field. Weeter was 7-for-9 from the free-throw line, and made two 3-point baskets. Olivia Lehman was the game’s second-highest scorer, with 14 points for the Cowgirls. Together, Weeter and Lehman had 45 of Goodland’s 59 points.

None of the Cardinals every broke out offensively. Hague finished with 9 points, Leah Durr had 8 points and eight rebounds, and Elina Bartlett had 7 points.

Turnovers were a big problems. The Cardinals committed 27 turnovers, just more than twice Goodland’s 13 turnovers.

The Cowgirls took a lot more shots, too, going 24-for-54. The Cardinals were 13-for-33 from the field.

Cheney: Campbell Hague 9, Leah Durr 8, Elina Bartlett 7, Reagen Black 5, Reagan Ayres 4, Peyton McCormick 3, Anna Martin 1.

See this Thursday’s print edition of TSnews for further coverage of the Cardinals’ season and State tournament run.