Varsity Kansas

Class 4A-Division I girls tournament preview

At Bicentennial Center, Salina

Wednesday’s Quarterfinals

3 p.m.: McPherson vs. Bishop Miege

No. 7 McPherson (17-5) – The Bullpups advanced to state for the 18th time in 19 seasons after starting the season 2-4. McPherson played in the last two 4A championship games, beating Holton in 2012 and losing to Wamego last season. Miege dealt McPherson its last quarterfinal loss in the 2010 5A tournament. Seniors Abby Pederson (14 points) and Janae Barnes (10 points, 17 rebounds) led the Bullpups past Buhler 47-36 in the sub-state final.

No. 2 Bishop Miege (19-3) – With 16 titles and 66 tournament victories, Kansas’ most decorated girls program drops down from 5A for its 31st state appearance. Coach Terry English has more than 700 victories in 37 seasons. Miege has won seven straight since falling to 5A qualifier St. Thomas Aquinas for the second time. Senior Lexie Villegas is a four-year player. She helped the Stags defeat Kapaun Mount Carmel 45-41 to win the Newton tournament.

4:45: Andover Central vs. Paola

No. 6 Andover Central (18-4) – The Jaguars are back at state for the first time since winning the 5A title four years ago. All of their losses came to 5A teams, including a pair of one-pointers against rival Andover. Central won its last eight games by an average of 31.4 points, and also owns a 12-point victory over 6A qualifier Maize. Senior guard Skyler Snodgrass (14.1) and junior guard Masen Stamp (10.5) are the top scorers.

No. 3 Paola (19-3) – Paola was fourth in 4A a year ago, and returns to Salina after Taylor Williams’ late three-pointer gave the Panthers a 43-40 victory over Louisburg in the sub-state final. They also beat Louisburg in the regular-season finale to win the Frontier League. Coach Stuart Ross calls his group “a salad bar of a team – a little bit of everything.” Sophomore Morgan Laudan (12.0), junior Lyndsee Johnson (11.0) and Tiana Moala (10.0), a 6-foot-4 junior, provide balance.

6:30: Mulvane vs. Wamego

No. 8 Mulvane (15-7) – Mulvane’s previous state appearance came in 1991, when coach Kendra Banzet averaged 21 points for the Wildcats as a senior. Her team features balanced scoring with Aubree Burkhart (13.4), KaSandra Melick (13.0) and Destynee Donaldson (12.4). The Wildcats won their own midseason tournament for the first time since Banzet’s senior season. With three four-year starters, experience is a key element.

No. 1 Wamego (22-0) – The Red Raiders won their first state title in 2013 and bring a 37-game winning streak into the tournament. Senior Kaylee Page (15.9 points, 6.9 rebounds) has signed with Nebraska. Her sister, Lanie, a junior, leads Wamego in scoring (17.0) and rebounding (7.0). Wamego rallied past Topeka Hayden 53-47 to win the sub-state title. Said coach Jim Page: “They want it more for each other than they do for themselves. That is pretty unique in today’s society.”

8:15: Coffeyville vs. KC Piper

No. 5 Coffeyville (18-4) – Coffeyville’s last and only trip to state was in 1985. The Golden Tornado set a school record for victories after going winless four years ago. Guard Devin Cosper (22.4 points, 5.1 rebounds) scored her 1,000th career point in January at Independence. Cosper faced a lot of box-and-one defenses. Alexus Johnson (10.7) runs the point for Coffeyville, which also won its Interstate Classic for the first time.

No. 4 KC Piper (19-3) – Coach Shane Stout brings his third girls program to state, winning the 2006 2A title with Belleville and making a 5A appearance with Liberal in 2009. The Pirates, Kaw Valley League champions, qualified for state for the first time in 14 years. Guards Haley White (11.1), Jessica Wayne (10.7) and Tori Webb (10.0) are the top scorers. Piper had a 13-game winning streak after a 2-2 start and won the Wellsville Top Gun tournament.

Friday’s semifinals

McPherson-Miege winner vs. Andover Central-Paola winner, 3 p.m.

Mulvane-Wamego winner vs. Coffeyville-KC Piper winner, 6:30

Joanna Chadwick’s picks

Wamego over Miege

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