Olathe South is going to the Class 6A state girls basketball tournament in Wichita for the 12th consecutive year.
The Falcons never trailed after early in the first quarter, but just escaped with a 54-53 victory over Gardner Edgerton in a substate championship game on Friday night at Olathe South.
Olathe South led 44-32 entering the fourth quarter, but the Trailblazers hung in there.
The Falcons missed their first six free throws in the fourth quarter and were just 1 of 10 with 2 minutes left in the game.
But in the last 2 minutes Olathe South got it together at the free-throw line and made 9 of its last 12.
Olathe South senior Kala Holder connected on two free throws with 7 seconds left for a 54-50 lead.
The Trailblazers’ Kynli Nelson hit a three-pointer from the right win with 1 second left. But Gardner Edgerton was out of timeouts and the clock ran out.
“We made the game a lot closer than it should have been,” Olathe South coach Steve Ingram said. “Our defense was good at times and we needed it.”
Falcons senior Zoe Matje was 3 of 4 from the free-throw line in the last minute.
“I tried to focus on all the free throws we’ve done in practice and concentrated on making them,” she said. “Free throws were the key in the fourth quarter.”
Gardner Edgerton ends the season 11-11, but the Trailblazers gave the Falcons, the Sunflower League co-champions, all they could handle.
“Olathe South is a good basketball team and will represent our substate well at state,” Trailblazers coach KC Hilgenkamp said. “I’m proud of the way my team played. They came out to play and win.”
Olathe South can turn its attention forward.
“We are proud we were able to carry on the Olathe South tradition in girls’ basketball,” Matje said.
The Falcons will take a 20-1 record to state.
DejaNae Roebuck, a junior, led the Falcons with 15 points. She was virtually unstoppable inside, but she spent a lot of time on the bench with foul trouble.
Nelson was the leading scorer for Gardner Edgerton with 13 points. The Trailblazers were 12 of 16 from the free-throw line.