It has been a while, but Leavenworth High School is a girls basketball state champion again.
The Pioneers used a 15-3 run in the fourth quarter to turn back Salina Central 64-53 in the Kansas 5A state title game on Saturday.
The Pioneers won back-to-back state titles in 6A in 1988-89, and now — 25-years later — in Class 5A. They are 3-0 in state championship games.
Salina Central took a 21-20 halftime lead on a three-pointer by senior Emily Wood at the buzzer.
“We made some mistakes and we talked about playing better in the second half,” Leavenworth coach Derek Zeck said.
The Pioneers took the lead for good on a three-pointer by senior Emma Zeck, with 2 minutes, 32 seconds left in the third quarter. That made it 34-31. Emma is Derek’s daughter.
Leavenworth had a 42-37 advantage after three quarters.
Freshman guard Terrion Moore ignited Leavenworth’s 15-3 run with a fast-break basket. She was fouled and made the free throw to make it 47-39 with 6:34 left. Junior Tyler Johnson’s basket with 4:05 remaining gave the Pioneers a 57-42 advantage.
“We finally settled down and played solid defense and got the ball inside,” Derek said. “Our depth and size finally wore them down.”
Johnson was Leavenworth’s leading scorer with 18 points. She was six-of-10 from the field and six-of-nine at the free-throw line.
Zeck, who was two-for-three on three-points shots, added 12 points and junior LaToshia Jones had 10.
Leavenwoth dominated the rebounding battle with Johnson and Rachel Blackburn with 10 each. The Pioneers had a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
With his daughter the team’s lone senior, Derek will return 11 of his 12 players on the state tournament roster.
“We are well blessed with young talent, but I just want to enjoy this one,” Derek said.
Leavenworth finished its season with a 24-1 record, its lone loss to Olathe South.