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Class 1A-Division I girls tournament preview

Published March 11 at 8:28 p.m. | Last updated March 12 at 10:29 a.m.

At White Auditorium, Emporia

Thursday Quarterfinals

3 p.m.: Victoria vs. Valley Heights

No. 7 Victoria (14-9) – The Knights advanced to the tournament without defeating a team that had more than six wins. It is the second state appearance in the last three seasons for Victoria, which won its final five games. Victoria is led by five seniors, as Kristin Huber (15 points) and Audra Nowak (14 points) do the heavy lifting on offense.

No. 2 Valley Heights (22-1) – On the heels of a 14-game winning streak, Valley Heights is back at state for the first time since 2009. The Mustangs relied on a stingy defense the entire season to transform into one of the favorites to win the title. 5-foot-11 sophomore Jo Roepke might be the most talented scorer in the tournament, entering with aveages of 21 points and eight rebounds. Junior Sidney Blackburn adds 18 points and six rebounds.

4:45: Caldwell vs. St. Paul

No. 6 Caldwell (17-6) – Caldwell has now made it to state in two of the past three seasons, each time with an identical 17-win record. The Bluejays rode an eight-game winning streak during the middle of the season, but suffered three losses in February. Caldwell is 17-3 when it has held its opponent to under 50 points.

No. 3 St. Paul (21-2) – The only two losses came to Columbus, a 4A opponent. St. Paul might be Hoxie’s great challenger due to a suffocating defense that has held the opposition to an average of 27 points. The offensive production is spread out, as 5-foot-10 sophomore Jordyn Tuck is the leading scorer at 14.4 points with 5-9 Josie Albertini is right behind at 11.8.

6:30: Spearville vs. Hoxie

No. 8 Spearville (13-9) – Spearville is at state for the third time in the last four years, despite losing five of its final six games in the regular season. The Lancers have won four state championships in their history, but not one since 1990. Spearville relies on its defense to carry it through games, and it all starts with 6-foot-1 junior Rachel Slattery (11 points, 8 rebounds) in the middle.

No. 1 Hoxie (23-0) – The unquestioned favorite to win the title, Hoxie enters the tournament on a 70-game winning streak. The Indians are looking to complete a three-peat in the classification, as well. Hoxie isn’t as deep as it has been in the past, but four starters returned from last season. Seniors Kristina Farber and Gabi Spresser and juniors Lexi Schamberger and Carly Heim lead the way.

8:15: Osborne vs. Centre

No. 5 Osborne (19-3) – Osborne is back at state for the first time since it took third in 2010. The Bulldogs enter on a seven-game winning streak and a stingy defense that has holds a 36.3 average. There isn’t a player listed over 5-foot-9, but this is a team that is carried by its seniors. The four seniors are the four leading scorers in Jessica Princ (16 points), Caitlin Miller (15), Taylor Noel (11), and Baylee Wolters (6)

No. 4 Centre (20-3) – After qualifying for state last season, Centre made it consecutive trips to state behind largely the same core. The Cougars upped their win total by six with junior Shelby Makovec (16 points) and 5-foot-10 senior Cacey Simons (13 points, 7 rebounds) leading the way. After losing two early in the season, Centre has won 15 of its last 16 games entering the tournament.

Friday’s semifinals

Victoria-Valley Heights winner vs. Caldwell-St. Paul winner, 3 p.m.

Spearville-Hoxie winner vs. Osborne-Centre winner, 6:30

Saturday’s finals

Third-place game, noon

Championship, 4 p.m.

Joanna Chadwick’s picks

Hoxie over Valley Heights