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Class 3A girls tournament preview

Published March 11 at 7:41 p.m. | Last updated March 12 at 10:29 a.m.

At Hutchinson Sports Arena

Thursday’s Quarterfinals

3 p.m.: Lyons vs. Riley County

No. 8 Lyons (15-8) — The Lions haven’t made the state playoffs since finishing third in 2003. Their first trip in more than a decade came thanks to a late-season run highlighted by a sub-state championship as a 5-seed, including a convincing 29-point win in the sub-state title game. Only one senior, Aubrey Hollinger, is on the roster of a team that can top last year’s win total with a first-round upset.

No. 1 Riley County (22-1) — This fast-paced offense likes to use the perimeter as a weapon. Three girls are shooting 42 percent or better from the 3-point line. Madison Vargo (18 points) and Katelyn Thomson (14) are the two main scoring threats. Defensively, the team has held opponents to an average of 38 points. Of the team’s three state championships since 1999, the most recent came in 2008.

4:45: Nemaha Valley vs. Caney Valley

No. 5 Nemaha Valley (19-4) — In 12 trips to the tournament, this team has yet to lose in the first round. The Raiders lost 3 of its first 7 games but have won 15 of 16 since. Junior point guard Jaci Swart (9 points, 4 assists) and sophomore forward Rachael Baumgartner (9 points, 4 rebounds) lead the team in scoring. The Raiders won 3 state titles in 4 years from 1989 to 1992 and again in 2003.

No. 4 Caney Valley (20-3) — First-round losses have ended the season each of the past two years. The third time in the state playoffs will come with only one senior on the roster. Teams may try to grow together as a family, but this squad has taken a literal approach. Freshmen starters Kyndal McIntosh (7.5 points, 4 rebounds) and Kolbi McIntosh (4.5, 3.2) are identical twins and junior starting guard Desiree Nelson (14.7, 4.1 assists) is their cousin and the daughter of coach Tom Nelson. McKenzie Vining (18 points, 8.2 rebounds) leads the team in scoring.

6:30: Douglass vs. Hesston

No. 7 Douglass (18-5) — After ending the regular season on a two-game losing streak, Douglass rattled off three sub-state wins for the first trip to the tournament in school history. First-year coach Jason Wilson instructed his girls to drive to the basket in sub-state play, resulting in 67 free-throw attempts in the last two games. Three sophomores, Klair Gibson (6.3 points), Cashlyn Munroe (9.4) and Sara Dressler (6.1), are among the starting five.

No. 2 Hesston (22-1) — The Swathers are in the state playoffs for the first time since making it at the 4A level in 2010. Caylee Richardson (12.8 points, 7.9 rebounds) leads the team in scoring with help from Kelsey Unruh (11.5, 4.1) and Cami Richardson (11.2, 5). The team will enter the tournament on an 11-game winning streak after a two-point loss to Wamego in January marked its only defeat.

8:15 p.m.: Council Grove vs. Cimarron

No. 6 Council Grove (19-4) — The offense runs through the paint, where 6-foot-2 junior center Megan Poole (11.8 points, 7 rebounds) and 5-foot-10 senior forward Kate Hula (10.2, 7.0) establish the inside game. Freshman guard Faith Brintle (11 points) and Sophomore forward Erica Auchard (5 points) also start for a team making its first appearance in the state playoffs in 21 years.

No. 3 Cimarron (21-2) — Back in the state playoffs for the first time since reaching the championship game six years ago, the Bluejays have the offense to compete for the team’s first state title since 1998. Ashtynn Burns (18 points) and Morgan Ediger (17.6) lead the team in scoring. Hailee Hoskinson (7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds) is the main threat in the post.

Friday’s semifinals

Lyons-Riley County winner vs. Nemaha Valley-Caney Valley winner, 3 p.m.

Douglass-Hesston winner vs. Council Grove-Cimarron winner, 6:30

Saturday’s finals

Third-place game, noon

Championship, 4 p.m.

Joanna Chadwick’s picks

Hesston over Riley County