After hitting a speed bump in the middle two quarters, the Heights girls regained control in the final period, holding Topeka High to five points in a 55-42 victory Friday night in a Class 6A sub-state final at East.
The top-ranked Falcons (21-1), undefeated City League champions, earned a berth in next week's state tournament for the sixth straight season and ninth in 10 years.
Heights jumped on the Trojans (13-9) from the opening tip, capitalizing on 13 first-quarter turnovers for a 13-4 lead.
"Our program hasn't been in a situation where we won the first round for a while, so I suspected that we were a little bit nervous and knew it after the first quarter," Topeka coach Shanna Perine said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
But in the second period, Topeka cut Heights' lead to 23-19 at halftime.
"We got a little complacent," Heights coach Kip Pulliam said. "We've done that quite a bit this year.
"So far, we've been fortunate enough to come out with a win. We can't do that at state; there's too many good teams at state. We'll be packing our bags early if we do that."
In the third quarter, three three-pointers from Jessica Blake and one from Brittney Redmond pulled Topeka to within 38-37 entering the fourth quarter.
Heights then responded at the foul line, hitting 9 of 11 free throws in the final quarter.
Sophomore Taylor Chandler hit all four of her tries, and junior Allegria Chisom sank 5 of 6.
"Those are kids that really don't get all the glamour and glory on our team," Pulliam said, "but they're the kids that will step up in games like this, and they're the difference-maker in this game."
And when the Falcons missed shots, Jhasmin Bowen was there on three occasions to rebound the ball and put it back in.
Bowen also had the game's key defensive play, blocking a five-foot baseline shot by Topeka's 5-foot-11 Daria Sprew with 1:51 left and Heights leading 45-40.
Chandler led Heights with 15 points, Chisom had 14 — all in the second half — and Bowen had 11.
Topeka found a successful scoring formula, with Blake (13 points) hitting from the outside and Sprew (12 points) using her long arms to rebound and score inside.
Perine said the Trojans didn't have enough left in the tank.
"You get to the point where you start pressing and trying to make things happen, and legs were getting tired, and they're very deep," Perine said. "That combination just got us in the end."
Topeka (13-9) 4 15 18 5 — 42 Wichita Heights (21-1) 13 10 15 17 — 55
TOPEKA: Blake 4 1-2 13, Redmond 1 2-2 5, Patton 3 1-3 8, Sprew 6 0-1 12, Harden 0 2-2 2, Benning 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 (6) 6-10 42.
HEIGHTS: Chandler 5 4-4 15, Pope 0 5-9 5, Chisom 4 5-7 14, Richard 1 0-0 2, Jhas. Bowen 4 3-8 11, Ivy 1 0-0 2, Sims 2 2-2 6. Totals 17 (2) 19-30 55.