There will be a new Kansas Class 5A girls basketball champion.
Defending state champ St. Thomas Aquinas, which clawed back to take 34-33 lead with 11 seconds left in its semifinal game against Wichita Kapaun Mount Carmel, lost at the buzzer Thursday when the Crusaders’ Janay Jacobs drove to the basket and flipped a one-hander off the glass as the buzzer sounded for a 35-34 victory.
They were Jacobs’ only points of the game.
It was an accomplishment in itself that the Saints were able to remain a factor in the contest. They had a terrible shooting night, hitting just three of 20 from the floor in the first half to trail 17-8 at the break. And they were just four-of-13 at the free throw line for the game.
But they were able to cut the margin to 23-22 entering the fourth quarter.
It was a particularly bitter defeat for Tia Weledji, who picked up a loose ball and hit a one-hander from 10 feet to give Aquinas, 20-3, its only lead of the game. But Weledji’s bid to be the heroine for the Saints was fleeting. She finished the game with 13 points to lead her team in scoring.
Senior Sydney Kuhn paced Kapaun with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.Leavenworth 71, Goddard Eisenhower 37
Top-seeded Leavenworth had little trouble with Goddard Eisenhower.
The 22-1 Pioneers led 37-21 at halftime and put the game completely out of reach by holding the Tigers to just four points in the third quarter while scoring 21.
The Pioneers had a decided height advantage, with four players 6 foot or taller. Goddard Eisenhower’s tallest player was 5-foot-9.
Leavenworth’s defense was active, forcing 33 turnovers in a game in which 49 personal fouls were called. The Pioneers played all 12 girls and 10 of them scored.
Junior LaToshia Jones came off the bench to lead the way with 14 points while 6-3 junior Rachel Blackburn was a perfect six-of-six from the floor in pouring in 12.
The Tigers didn’t have a player in double figures.
Leavenworth reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2003.Salina Central 63, St. James Academy 31
Salina Central ruined St. James Academy’s first trip to the state tournament. The Mustangs, 22-1, led nearly the entire game in dropping the Thunder’s season record to 17-6.
The Mustangs’ full-court press forced 21 turnovers and 6-1 senior Shaelyn Martin lit up the scoreboard.
The Kansas State signee led all scorers with 22 points. She was seven of 14 from the field and a perfect seven of seven at the free throw line. She also had a game-high seven rebounds and dished out five assists.
Senior Emily Wood hit three three-pointers in adding 13 points and senior Hailey Mayfield had 11.
Senior Julianne Smith paced the Thunder with 13 points.
The Thunder was just 11 of 33 from the field for 33 percent.