A look at the Class 4A girls tournament
At Bicentennial Center, Salina
3 p.m.: Pratt vs. Wamego
No. 8 Pratt (14-9) — The Greenbacks have faced stiff competition, including wins over Garden City and Hays and a five-point loss to Wichita South, the top seed in Class 6A, in the Pratt Tournament of Champions. This is coach Dean Rausch’s second trip to the tournament in five seasons. Pratt lost to Bonner Springs in the first round at state last year. The Greenbacks came into sub-state as the fourth seed and upset No. 1 seed Andale in the semifinals. Senior Payton Hoeme, a 6-foot-2 center, leads Pratt with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Junior forward Jenson Maydew also is tough in the post, averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds. Pratt allows 32 points.
No. 1 Wamego (22-1) — Wamego has two of the top players in the country for the recruiting classes of 2014 and 2015 in 6-2 junior guard Kaylee Page (20.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks) and 6-2 sophomore guard Lanie Page (16.2 points, 3.0 assists, 3.7 steals), daughters of coach Jim Page. Most of the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 are after the Pages. Their mother, Wendy, played at Emporia State, and the girls have modeled their games after the European style of facing the basket as much as possible on offense and being taller guards on the perimeter with the ability to post up when needed. The Pages have eschewed the summer circuit of AAU basketball, instead opting for concentrated gym time and games with and against older brother James, a 6-foot-6 senior forward for Wamego, and his teammates. Winners of 12 straight, Wamego lost to Holton in last year’s sub-state final, but ended Holton’s 88-game regular-season winning streak this season and beat Holton in this year’s sub-state final. .
4:45: Clearwater vs. Fort Scott
No. 5 Clearwater (16-6) — Clearwater wins games with tough team defense and with 6-foot junior forward Bryna Vogel, who averages 19 points and 13 rebounds. Vogel has committed to play volleyball at Kansas State and had her signature game this year with 23 points and 23 rebounds in a 46-34 win over Circle on Feb. 12. Clearwater finished 7-15 last season with essentially the same team. Senior point guard Brooke Winter is averaging 9 points and is the team’s best three-point shooter. This is Clearwater coach Chuck Reitberger’s second trip to the state tournament and first since 2005.
No. 4 Fort Scott (17-5) – Fort Scott, champions of the Southeast Kansas League, is on a 14-game winning streak but started the season 0-4 with losses to Broken Arrow (Okla.), Springdale Harbor (Ark.) and Willard (Mo.), all part of coach Jeff Armstrong’s plan to toughen his team up early in the season. Armstrong is in his eighth year as coach after four years as a boys assistant at Fort Scott. This is Fort Scott’s first trip to state since 2008. Junior guard Katren Rienbolt averages 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. Senior forward Sidney Maycumber averages 9.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. Fort Scott has never finished above fourth at state.
6:30: Labette County vs. McPherson
No. 7 Labette County (15-7) — Coach Kristi Snider is just seven wins away from 300 for her career with an overall record of 293-69. This is Snider and Labette County’s first trip to state since 2008 and 10th time with her at the helm. Senior guard Michaela O’Brien, 5-8, leads Labette County with 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Erica Gardner is second the team with 9.3 points and sophomore forward Aubri Kimbrough averages 8.1 points and 5.0 rebounds.
No. 2 McPherson (20-3) — McPherson, the defending 4A champion, enters the state tournament on an 11-game winning streak. Coach Chris Strathman, in his eighth season, has won two titles in the last five years. Senior forward Katelyn Loecker leads McPherson with 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Loecker, an all-state selection last season, has signed with Oklahoma State. The Bullpups play tough defense, giving up just 32 points per game. McPherson’s last loss came against Olathe South, the No. 2 seed in Class 6A, falling 43-35 on Jan. 25. Junior guard Abby Pedersen averages 13 points and senior guard Hailey Ruder averages 9 points.
8:15: Tonganoxie vs. Paola
No. 6 Tonganoxie (15-7) — This is coach Randy Kraft’s third trip to state in 11 seasons, finishing fourth in both 2005 and 2007. Tonganoxie finished third in the Kaw Valley League and 5-10 forward Jenny Whitledge leads the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. Whitledge has help in the post from 6-foot junior Katelyn Waldeier, who averages 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. Tonganoxie lost to KVL rival Bonner Springs twice during league play but bounced back by beating Bonner Springs 45-42 in overtime of the sub-state semifinals then rolled to a 62-36 win over Atchison in the finals. Guards Hannah Kemp, Madee Walker and Emily Soetaert split ball-handling duties and all average around 7 points.
No. 3 Paola (18-4) — Coach Stuart Ross is in his sixth year, but spent seven years as an assistant at Paola before that. Ross said this year’s team doesn’t have a star like his 2009 squad that started four seniors, lost in the state semifinals and featured Emporia State’s Rachel Hanf and Gonzaga’s Taelor Karr. Paola starts just one senior and has six underclassmen in its seven-player rotation. Lyndsee Johnson leads Paola with 12.5 points per game. Tiana Moala has six games over 10 rebounds.
Clearwater-Fort Scott winner vs. Pratt-Wamego winner, 3 p.m.
Tonganoxie-Paola winner vs. Labette County-McPherson winner, 6:30.
Third-place game, noon
Championship, 4 p.m.
Joanna Chadwick’s pick
McPherson over Wamego