The Leavenworth High School girls basketball team had the most hype entering the 2014-15 season, and the Pioneers deserved it.
The squad lost just one player from the previous season’s Kansas Class 5A state championship team. More important than that, the Pioneers were fueled by three players who signed Division I letters of intent during the fall.
Simone Award winner Tyler Johnson committed to Kansas, Rachel Blackburn picked Nebraska and Tashia Jones signed with Oklahoma State.
Under first-year head coach Jordan Mellott, previously a longtime assistant coach, Leavenworth shared the Sunflower League championship with SM Northwest and Olathe South. Johnson, Blackburn and Jones — along with teammate Terrion Moore — earned all-league first-team honors.
Leavenworth breezed through its substate tournament, then posted three double-digit victories in the state tournament. The Pioneers drilled Blue Valley Southwest 52-30 in the final, won its second consecutive Class 5A state title and finished with a 23-2 record.
It was the Pioneers’ balance that carried them to the state championship and proved difficult for opponents. Johnson paced the squad, averaging 11 points and six rebounds per game. Jones averaged 10 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, and Blackburn added eight points and seven rebounds per game.
All three players shot 54 percent or better from the field and 33 percent or better from three-point range. None of the three Division I-bound players had more than 1.1 turnovers per game.
Moore added seven points, two rebounds and a team-best 5.2 assists per game.