Mill Valley senior forward Stephanie Lichtenauer has played varsity basketball since she was a freshman. This year’s team — 19-1 and undefeated in the Kaw Valley League — plays host to Shawnee Heights at 7 p.m. tonight in the Lansing Class 5A substate Bracket A championship game. A win would send the school to state for the first time. With a milestone achingly close, we asked Lichtenauer, who averages 12.2 points and 5.1 rebounds, to go four quarters with The Star.
Q. Your freshman year, Mill Valley was buried in the Kaw Valley League standings, so what does an outright league championship mean to the seniors?
A. “It feels good that all our hard work paid off and we won it outright. Especially for the seniors, it’s big. It feels like we’ve transformed the program.”
Q. Defensively, the Jags allow only 31.6 points per game this season. How are you getting it done?
A. “We take a lot of pride in our defense and work a lot on it at practice. We all have good help defense and know how each other plays. Defense is a big point of emphasis for us.”
Q. Mill Valley has never made it to state, but will that change tonight?
A. “I don’t know, but we’re hoping to do it. I can’t guarantee anything, but it would be a huge deal. It’s something we’ve talked about for so many years — even before we got to high school. It’s something we want to accomplish.”
Q. Spill the beans, has Hall of Fame coach John McFall, who had a fiery reputation when he coached the Olathe South boys, softened up any now that he’s coaching girls?
A. “I honestly feel like he has. I guess I never really saw him at practices when he was a boys coach, but I feel like he’s softer on us. John McFall has a gentle side.”
By the Numbers
0 Losses for the West Platte boys basketball team entering Thursday night’s Class 2 sectional showdown with Albany. With a 27-0 mark, West Platte is the only undefeated boys team in the state — in any class. It is ranked No. 1 in the Class 2 coaches poll.
.942 Winning percentage for the Blue Valley Northwest boys basketball team’s junior class, which improved to 65-4 in the last three seasons with a dominating 40-point win against Turner in Wednesday’s substate semifinals. The Huskies, 21-0, who have been ranked No. 1 in The Star’s big class poll all season, are a win away from returning to state for the fourth straight season. BV Northwest plays host to Shawnee Mission West, which beat BV North on a Jay Temaat three-pointer in the closing seconds, at 7 p.m. tonight.
19 Consecutive state tournament appearances for the St. Thomas Aquinas girls if they can topple SM South in the Turner substate Bracket A championship game at 7 p.m. tonight. The Saints, 20-1, advanced with a forfeit win against Harmon in the substate semifinals.
| The Star’s Tod Palmer and Sam McDowell contributed to this report.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com