At Kansas Expocentre, Topeka
3 p.m.: St. Thomas Aquinas vs. KC Schlagle
No. 8 St. Thomas Aquinas (17-5) – The Saints extended their state-record streak of 22 consecutive appearances at the state tournament, as they have won four championships during that streak with the latest coming in 2013. The traditional suffocating defense carried over this season, as Aquinas held opponents to 36.3 points. That style of play doesn’t lead to impressive stats, but Aquinas does have height with leaders Allie Koster (9.5 points), Sereena Weledji (11.7 points, 7.1 rebounds), Alayna Townsend (9.6 points), and Allison Thomas (7.6 points, 9.0 rebounds) all at least 5-foot-11.
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No. 1 KC Schlagle (19-3) – The 19 wins and trip to season make this the most successful season at Schlagle since its last state appearance in 2002. Schlagle plays at a frenetic pace, as it averages 20.7 steals and 64.3 points in its victories. But the Stallions have struggled mightily against teams that control the pace and handle their pressure, as they averaging 9.3 steals and 39.3 points in their three losses. Schlagle is led by sophomore Riana Lawson (16.0 points, 4.3 assists, 4.5 steals) and Kiara Brown (13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.1 steals).
4:45: Mill Valley vs. Salina Central
No. 5 Mill Valley (18-4) – In its second state appearance, Mill Valley enters the tournament on a 15-game winning streak after a 3-4 start. The Jaguars excel on the defensive end, holding teams to 34.5 points and have won 16 of the 17 games they have held opponents under 50 points. The offense revolves around 5-foot-11 senior center Catie Kaifes (17.6 points, 8 rebounds), while two freshmen, Presley Barton and Claire Kaifes, emerged at the end of the season.
No. 4 Salina Central (18-4) – Few teams could keep up with the Mustangs, as they won 17 of the 18 games in which they scored more than 50 points. Casey Knoth (5-foot-10 junior) is a versatile forward that averages 16.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals, while Myah Ward (41-percent three-point shooter with 59 threes) is a knockdown shooter and Elisa Backes (9.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists) is a steady presence alongside Knoth. The Mustangs played in mostly blowouts this season, as only four of their games were decided by single-digits.
6:30: Newton vs. Leavenworth
No. 7 Newton (17-5) – Since a loss to Miege featuring a spirited comeback in its home tournament, Newton has reeled off a 10-game winning streak to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2012. The streak included five wins over ranked opponents. The Railers featured one of the better post duos in the tournament in senior Payton Roberts (5-foot-11) and junior Abby Schmidt (6-2), who make up 35 percent of the team’s scoring. Freshman DesiRay Kernal has been a revelation, averaging 9.2 points and leading the team in assists and steals.
No. 2 Leavenworth (18-4) – Leavenworth has won the last two championships by an average margin of 16.5 points and returns for the fourth straight season. It’s a new cast from those championship teams, but Leavenworth still retained its defensive prowess and is allowing 35.4 points. Destine Robinson is the team’s top scorer and is been joined by fellow guards Aarika Lister and freshman Alyche Brown.
8:15: Goddard vs. Carroll
No. 6 Goddard (18-4) – A stifling defense that allows 34.6 points led the Lions back to the state tournament for the first time since 2009. Goddard’s offense has at times struggled, although four of its six games scoring more than 50 points have come in the last two weeks. The Lions haven’t had a 20-point scorer all season and have relied on a team mentality. Samantha Schwab (6-foot senior center) is averaging 10.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks, while Madison Smith (9.7 points), C.J. Wilhelm (7.5), and Jessica Gardiner (7.1) are part of the balanced attack.
No. 3 Carroll (18-4) – The top defense in Class 5A, allowing 31 points, is what brought Carroll back to the state tournament for the second straight season. Defense is vital to Carroll, which is 18-0 when it holds opponents under 40 points and 0-4 when they score over that mark. A late-season injury left the Eagles without an established post presence, as guards Brynn Maul (8 points, 3.1 steals) and Abby Sauber (7.3 points) are now the leading scorers.
Mill Valley-Salina Central winner vs. St. Thomas Aquinas-KC Schlagle winner, 3 p.m.
Newton-Leavenworth winner vs. Goddard-Carroll winner, 6:30
Third-place game, noon
Championship, 4 p.m.
Joanna Chadwick’s pick
Leavenworth over St. Thomas Aquinas