The Bishop Miege girls were hamstrung in the first half of the Kansas 4A, Division I semifinal on Friday because of foul trouble, which resulted in some interesting matchupswith a mix of the veteran players and the youth.
Despite the rocky start, Miege beat Labette County 64-46 and advance to Saturday’s championship game. Miege, 24-0, will play Paola in its bid for a fourth straight title and 60th straight win.
“It’s very sweet, especially with this group,” Miege coach Terry English said. “They’ve worked so hard for the last three years.”
Senior Lakesha Lamaster-Stephens added: “It hasn’t really set in yet. It’s just a very exciting feeling.”
Miege not only had foul issues early, but Labette County hit shots.
Labette County’s Keyahnah Burk got her team within 8-7 after hitting a three-pointer, and teammate Erica Gartner added a three late in the quarter. Miege led 18-12 after the first.
But in the second quarter, Miege held Labette County to six points and led by 18 at the half.
“We pulled away while (the young players) were in there,” English said. “We have good young kids. We have good starters. If everyone was going on all four cylinders, we could have really done some damage.”
Lamaster-Stephens scored 15 points, while Tristen McFeders scored 14 and Hunter Bentley 13. Shelbe Piggie added nine.
Tristan Gegg led Labette County with 16 points.
Paola 64, Wellington 51
Paola guard Taylor Williams didn’t hesitate when she pulled up for a three-pointer in transition early in the fourth quarter in Friday’s Class 4A, Division I semifinal.
Wellington had tied the score to open the quarter, erasing Paola’s 15-point first-half lead, and Williams knew exactly what was needed.
“Gotta match whatever they do, right?” Williams asked.
Williams’ three-pointer gave Paola the lead for good during a 64-51 win over Wellington. Paola finished second in 2015.
“I don’t think a lot of people expected this expect those people in there,” Paola coach Stuart Ross said as he gestured toward the Paola locker room. “I think we played well enough to deserve it. We’ll play whoever we play tomorrow and we’ll play the same way and we’ll go win the dang thing.”
Paola, 22-2, started well and, in the final 40 seconds of the first period, got threes from Rheanna Leckner and Williams.
Wellington, 23-1, cut the lead to 23-17 in the second quarter before Paola’s Matti Morgan converted a three-point play to start a 10-0 run.
Wellington started to mount its comeback in the third quarter and tied the score at 47-47 to start the fourth quarter when Mitchell scored inside, capping an 8-2 run.
It was the first time the score was tied since 2-2.
“They kind of took a punch at us in the third quarter,” Paola’s Morgan Laudan said. “... Our game plan was to keep attacking.”
Paola took command by scoring 17 of the game’s final 21 points.
Morgan and Laudan finished with 19 points, and Williams had 13 and seven rebounds.
“We talk about grind. It’s our thing, grind,” Ross said. “.... There’s nobody going to blow anybody out. You’re going to fight every second. We made some good stops, especially in the fourth quarter. We had to, they were coming at us.”