LAFAYETTE — Kaitlyn Day scored a career-high 35 points to lead the Dawson School girls basketball team to a 53-29 win over the Sargent Farmers on Friday, advancing them to the 2A Region 6 championship game.
The big night started right away for the junior with 12 of the first 16 points for Dawson. She hit two shots from behind the 3-point line and got to the rim for three layups in the opening quarter.
"I try and shoot my outside shots early to make the defenders come up and press me," Day said. "Once they step up to me, then I'm able to use my drive game after that."
The run continued in the second with nine points. Another 3-point shot went down, plus a couple of shots in the paint that came from steals and drives to the rim.
While Day was going off on offense, Dawson was also doing its job on defense to keep the Farmers off the board. Turnovers from the full-court press led to easy shots on the other end and tight ball pressure prevented them from getting many quality looks.
"We felt like they wouldn't handle our pressure well," Dawson coach JR Sagner said. "Our game plan was to pressure the ball heavily and get to help side. I didn't think they would respond to our press well.
"We got tips, we were disciplined with our hands, the girls moved and rotated and anticipated well," Sagner said. "I think on that side of things, it lets us go out and get easy buckets."
In the end, Day became the story as she continued to hit all over the court for Dawson.
Her third quarter included 10 points as she found the mismatch to attack her defender. At 31 points, she was tied with her career high and Dawson held a commanding 45-18 lead.
Sitting to start the fourth, Day came in for a quick stint in the fourth, getting a layup and two more free throws to set the career-high mark of 35.
"It feels great," Day said. "It really helps my team, it's fun when shots are hitting and it builds up my confidence and the team's confidence to help us keep moving."
Her night ended with her making 14 of 20 shots — including 4-of-8 from the 3-point line. For good measure, she also hit all three of her free throw attempts.
Sagner felt the big night from his star spoke to the work in the gym outside of games over the course of her career.
"I told her parents that she is a kid that comes into the gym and gets up four-, five-, six-hundred shots, two-to-three times a week," Sagner said. "Seeing her play like that, it's not surprising. She puts in the work ethic and was due for a hot night shooting the ball."
Confidence is riding high for Day and the entire Dawson team as they now have won 11 straight games. The Mustangs will play Saturday at 1 p.m. in the regional championship on their home floor and expect another big crowd of support with the state bid on the line.
"They loved earning a home seed (at districts) last week," Sagner said.
Dawson 53, Sargent 29
At Dawson School
McKinzie Tolliver 3 1-4 9, Lexxi Aguilar 0 4-4 4, Lainie Dillon 1 1-2 3, Ashley Slover 1 1-2 3, Kamryn Holland 1 0-0 2, Mary Willis 1 0-0 2, Maddie Kyffin 1 0-0 2, Jeni Johnson 0 2-3 2, Alicia Urbina 0 2-2 2. Totals 8 11-17 29.
Kaitlyn Day 14 3-3 35, Alex Dunbar 3 0-0 6, Maddy Timms 2 1-4 5,Madison Day 0 4-4 4, Alexis Gilio 1 0-0 2, Ruby Walker 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 9-13 53.
Score by quarters:Sargent (10-13) 6 6 6 11 — 29
3-point field goals — Sargent(2): Tolliver 2; Dawson(4): Kaitlyn Day 4. Total fouls — Sargent 16, Dawson 17. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.