The situation appeared dire for the Bishop Miege girls early in the second half of the Kansas Class 4A Division I state title game on Saturday.
The Stags not only had lost their 12-point lead when they gave up 12 unanswered points to end the second quarter, but things were not improving much early into the scond half.
But no situation is dire when you’re Miege and you’ve won the last two state titles.
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Miege defeated Paola 67-56 to win its 60th straight game and third straight state title. Miege improved its record to 25-0. Paola ended its season 22-3.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Miege senior Tristen McFeders said. “I would never have guessed four years ago that we would be standing here today with 60 wins in a row, three straight championships. We had to pull together as a team and really fight for it.”
Miege coach Terry English added: “They’ve overcome a lot of adversity. If you’re going to win 60 straight, everybody who comes out is gunning for you. These kids somehow have handled that. That’s pretty tough nowadays.”
Miege hit 10 of its first 11 shots in the first quarter. At 3:06 remaining in the first half, Paola’s Morgan Laudan sparked the game-tying 12-0 run. Laudan capped the run with two baskets in the final minute of the period.
“We stayed true to what we thought we needed to do to win, and that was certainly not stand back and let them bring the game to us,” said Paola coach Stuart Ross, whose team finished second to Miege in 2015. “We had to be the aggressor.”
With the score tied at 33 at halftime, Paola’s Matti Morgan gave the Panthers the 36-35 lead with a three-point play early in the third period.
Seconds later, Miege senior Lakesha Lamaster-Stephens made two free throws and got a steal. Then McFeders hit a three from the left corner.
By the early moments of the fourth quarter, Miege had rattled off a 21-5 run for a 56-41 lead.
“Maybe our heart got a little too big at halftime,” Ross said. “We said (in the locker room), ‘OK, the emotion now has to go away and we need to bring back what we have to do.’ ”
The key difference for Miege was Lamaster-Stephens in the lane.
“Kesha got in from trouble, so we go from not very big with Kesha in there to really small with Kesha out,” English said.
Lamaster-Stephens scored a team-high 20 points by hitting eight of nine field goals, while McFeders had 18 points and Shelbe Piggie 15 points.
“We just didn’t give up,” Piggie said.
Paola was led by Laudan’s 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Morgan added 12 points and seven rebounds.
“I’m not in the least bit disappointed in them, by any means,” Ross said.