NORMAL – Fisher knew it was coming. The Bunnies practiced against it and prepared for it. But when the ball went up Tuesday at Redbird Arena, they had no answer for Warrensburg-Latham's fullcourt pressure defense.
After Dominique Warnsley's jumper on the game's first possession, the Cardinals went into a zone press that gave Fisher fits all night.
"We worked on that, but it's impossible to simulate that kind of speed," Fisher's Sam Estes said after W-L's 54-28 win in the Class 1A super-sectional. "That's the quickest team I've ever played against. They were extremely aggressive, and we just didn't handle it very well."
The Cardinals (31-1) executed the fullcourt press almost to perfection. They forced Fisher into three 10-second violations and 16 turnovers that led to 19 points.
"We have never seen pressure like that all year long," Fisher coach Deon Mennenga said. "We probably weren't the best ball-handling team in the final eight, but we always just got by maybe by committee in that area."
"They're great at what they do, and that's just a great press," said Mitch Elkins, who scored nine points for the Bunnies. "We did our best, but we just didn't have an answer for it."
The second-ranked Cardinals came out on fire, jumping to an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter. They made 10 of 12 shots in the opening period and led 21-3 after eight minutes. Warnsley scored 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter, and Zack Boyd scored a game-high 19 points for W-L.
"We just weren't playing that good of defense, especially against Boyd in the beginning," Estes said. "He just hit everything he threw up there, and we weren't hitting shots at the start like we normally do. We got some good looks, but it just didn't pan out for us."
Fisher was led by Jared Hayden's 10 points. Estes finished with seven, and Travis Bayler grabbed a game-high five rebounds.
"The kids played hard. I can never fault the effort," Mennenga said. "When you only have a couple days to prepare for a team like that it's very, very difficult."
W-L moves on to the Final Four in Peoria, where Friday it will play the winner of tonight's game between Nokomis and Okawville.
"I think that team is going to win the state championship," Elkins said. "They're a tough team, and it's going to take a really good team to beat them."