The fourth-quarter lead lasted 92 seconds, and it was preceded by a stretch that had put Shawnee Mission Northwest in position to win its first state title in program history. A victory would simultaneously end the reign of a three-time defending champion.
Instead, a little more than six minutes later, the Cougars learned what the 24 teams before them had already digested.
Wichita South remains supreme in Kansas Class 6A.
Wichita South outplayed SM Northwest down the stretch to win its fourth straight Kansas Class 6A girls championship with a 36-30 decision Saturday at Charles Koch Arena.
Wichita South, 25-0, outscored SM Northwest 13-4 in the fourth quarter.
“They definitely played like they had been here before. They knew what they were doing,” SM Northwest senior Brenni Rose said. “They have some great Division I players who knew what they wanted, and they were going to get it, whatever it took.”
The Cougars’ second-place showing marked the best state-tournament finish in program history. And they stayed competitive deep into the fourth quarter Saturday. And then some.
SM Northwest, 22-3, formulated an 8-0 run to end the third quarter, and the Cougars took a 26-23 advantage into the fourth. Rose, facing the full attention of Wichita South’s defensive gameplan, made a three-pointer from the corner to tie the game midway through the run, and Danielle Rehor followed with another three to give the Cougars their first second-half lead.
“We were right there,” SM Northwest coach Tyler Stewart said. “I think they got a few too many offensive rebounds that gave them a chance to make a mini-run against us late, and that was the difference.”
In a game marked by its slow pace, the two teams combined to attempt only 50 field goals. SM Northwest actually shot 52.4 percent from the floor and made five of nine three-point attempts.
But the Cougars spent the majority of the game playing defense. They packed in a zone to crowd center Kendrian Elliott, daring Wichita South to shoot from the perimeter. Wichita South often elected to hold the ball instead, content to drain the clock.
The zone proved effective for three quarters, but Wichita South wing Kyla Callins made a three-pointer in the fourth quarter and followed with a layup to secure the game’s final lead.
“We turned the ball over a couple of times, and that can’t happen against a team like that,” Rose said. “They punish you for every single mistake you make.”