BY TAYLOR ELDRIDGE
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Before we get started today in Hutchinson with the Class 3A girl’s quarterfinals, let’s break down the match-up’s. We have three local teams in Garden Plain, Marion and Hillsboro, but I’ll preview each game, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
Remember, I’ll be updating constantly on this blog. So feel free to follow this throughout the day. It should be your first stop if you want Class 3A girl’s information. I’ll update every now and then on Twitter and I’ll link to it on here, but go ahead and follow me there @teldridge24.
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Click the jump for the previews:3 p.m. Game: #2 Jefferson County North (22-1) vs. #7 Frontenac (17-6)
It’s literally impossible to attempt to gauge where Jefferson County North stacks up with the rest of Class 3A. I checked their schedule and they did not play a single state-qualifying team or a team that even got close to qualifying. How much did the easy schedule play a part in JCN’s 22-1 record? Are they really that good? What I do know is that sophomore Jordan Kramer, who is averaging 20 points. Two others in Kate Brickell and Mallory Grand Pre average in double-figures. So how does that stack up against Frontenac? Well, the Raiders can counter with a high-scorer with Emily Barto. She is a career 1,000-point scorer and she has put this team on her back and carried them to the state tournament. One person can’t get it done when it comes to this time of the year. Although I literally have no clue what to expect from JCN, it’s my pick. The pick: Jefferson County North 64-48
4:45 p.m. Game: #3 Beloit (18-5) vs. #6 Marion (18-5)
Marion has played 13 teams that were at least in the sub-state finals, with seven of them advancing to the state tournament. So pretty much, they are the anti-Jefferson County North. They have plenty of experience and punch with Julia Zeiner and Lindsay Hett, who combine to score over 30 points a game. Marion sets up favorably for a deep run in this tournament, as it puts out a traditional line-up and has all the necessary pieces to make a run. Beloit, on the other hand, wasn’t even expecting to get back to Hutchinson. After losing four starters from last year’s state-qualifiers, Beloit didn’t know how the team would respond this year. There’s no main scorer for Beloit. It’s another team that gets it done with all five on the court, and doesn’t live or die by one player. But I like the star power and punch Marion packs, so I’m picking the Warriors. Also, Marion’s coach’s name is Randy Savage. Yes, Randy Savage. The Pick: Marion 62-54
6:30 p.m. Game: #1 Thomas More Prep (22-1) vs. #8 Riley County (13-10)
Not sure TMP liked its draw when it saw it was playing Riley County, a staple of the state tournament. The Falcons have been to Hutch 10 of the past 15 years now. After a 6-10 start to the season, Riley County are now winners of its last seven games. They always play their best basketball when it counts. You know they are going to play solid defense, but the question will be can they score enough to pull off the upset? Thomas More Prep liked its chances with Kaylee Hoffman, but she is out with a knee injury. How much will that affect TMP? Playing without its best player makes TMP susceptible to an upset, but the Monarchs knocked off the No. 1 overall team in 3A in Southwestern Heights in sub-state without her. I think they’ll survive and advance, but it’ll be close. The Pick: Thomas More Prep 44, Riley County 40
8:15 p.m. Game: #4 Garden Plain (18-5) vs. #5 Hillsboro (18-5)
I think this should be a thrilling night-cap that will pit two pretty evenly-matched teams. Garden Plain is a pretty young team, but it matured quickly last week and grew up in a hurry in knocking off one of the title favorites in Collegiate. So how far can the Owls go now? Ann Pauley is a good scorer and I like the team’s depth and how they play within their roles. Hillsboro is another nice team that relies a little more heavily on one player – 6-foot-1 senior Dakota Kaufman. This team has been to state three of the last four years, so Kaufman is familiar to the stage. But to pull off the upset – Garden Plain won 41-37 back in December – Hillsboro has to have other contributions. I think Garden Plain is the more well-rounded team and will win a squeaker. The Pick: Garden Plain 47-44