The lead was eight points after the third-quarter buzzer, and Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Brenni Rose said she blocked out the flashbacks. But it wasn’t easy.
Two months ago, the Cougars took a six-point lead into the final quarter against Olathe South, only to lose by three.
They relinquished this lead, too.
But this time, they fought back to reclaim a win.
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Rose hit a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining, and Shawnee Mission Northwest fought off a furious rally from Olathe South for a 38-36 win in the Kansas Class 6A semifinals at Charles Koch Arena. Rose finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
“I usually stay pretty composed in those situations,” Rose said of her game-winning free throws. “I was just thinking (that) either way, it’s going to be OK. We’ll get them in overtime if they don’t go in, but it’s just going to be much easier to make (them) right now.”
Shawnee Mission Northwest, 22-2, will play for its first state championship in school history at 4 p.m. Saturday.
It barely earned a spot there. The Cougars led 28-14 midway through the third quarter before Olathe South started its comeback.
Olathe South, 21-2, took a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but Rose hit four free throws to put SM Northwest back in control. Olathe South’s Kacey Kennett made a three-pointer with 7 seconds left to tie the game, but Rose drew a foul in the backcourt after the inbounds pass.
“I couldn’t ask for someone better to shoot those free throws,” SM Northwest coach Tyler Stewart said. “She’s made a lot of big shots in her career. If there’s anyone shooting those shots, I’d ask for her.”
Wichita South 43, Olathe East 36
The challenge of facing three-time defending Kansas Class 6A champion Wichita South is finding a way to slow down its multitude of scoring options.
Olathe East solved that issue Friday.
But the Hawks couldn’t solve the other task on the end of the floor.
Olathe East endured an 11-minute field-goal drought, the deciding spell in a 43-36 loss to Wichita South in the Kansas Class 6A semifinals Friday.
“Their defense is super tough. They make every pass difficult with the way they crowd the perimeter kids,” Olathe East coach Clint Evans said. “We’ve really done a good job of not turning it over recently, and we turned it over nine times in the first (half), so I think that says a lot about how tough they were (guarding) us.”
The Hawks, 18-6, never led after the opening quarter Friday, though they kept the margin within single digits for all but one minute.
They trimmed the deficit to two points midway through the fourth quarter on a layup from Sydney Wilson, but Wichita South responded with six straight points to regain control.
Wilson led all scorers with 17 points and added eight rebounds. Caroline Hoppock had 14 points.
Olathe East fell to the third-place game, where it will meet rival Olathe South at 12 p.m. Saturday at Koch Arena. With a victory, Olathe East would tie the best state-tournament finish in school history.
“We haven’t been here in a long time, so our heads are still up,” sophomore point guard Katie Gleason said. “It was a tough loss, but we’re looking forward to tomorrow with a chance to place at state.”