Published: February 25, 2014
It took about five minutes for Air Academy to get a feel for an unfamiliar opponent in Widefield on Tuesday.
After that, Kassady Huffman and Madison Rasmussen made sure the Kadets' season would continue into the weekend.
Huffman recorded a triple-double of 11 points, 11 blocks and 10 rebounds, and Rasmussen ignited a second-quarter run with eight straight points, as Air Academy blew out Widefield 38-16 in a Class 4A girls' first-round playoff game.
No. 7 Air Academy (13-10) next will travel to host and second-ranked Elizabeth (21-2) for Friday's second-round matchup.
"I knew I had to come out and bring something on the floor," said Rasmussen, the first off the bench for Air Academy who finished with a game-high 14 points. "With our defense, our offense comes with it."
When Avery Downey set up Rasmussen for an easy layup that tied the game at 4 with 1:03 left in the first period, it started a run of 12 straight points.
Even when the Kadets didn't execute things perfectly, things still went right. In the waning seconds of the first half and Air Academy inbounding under the Widefield basket, Kylee Barry's pass bounced off Huffman's forehead and right back to the senior guard, who beat the buzzer to extend the Air Academy lead to 20-7.
"It took a little while to figure out what offense to run and what defense would work," Huffman said. "We waited for good shots and ended up getting in a groove."
Huffman led a defensive effort that allowed Widefield (11-13) to shoot just 15.4 percent (6 of 39) from the field and also forced 21 turnovers.
The Gladiators, who played most of the season without leading scorer Caitlin Peters, were further shorthanded Tuesday after recent injuries to starter Logan Prater (concussion) and backup point guard Haley Laughlin (ankle) and clearly were out of sync. Widefield didn't score more than six points in any quarter.
Senior Delia Brekken led Widefield with nine points and 12 rebounds, just her third single-digit effort in the last 10 games.
"The season was pretty challenging for the whole team," said Brekken, a student at Fountain Valley who played her last season at Widefield after her school was unable to field a girls' basketball team. "I wish this season could have ended on a better note. I'm always happy to play basketball, and I enjoyed playing at a higher level. I'm blessed to have had such an opportunity to play where I didn't before."