Varsity Basketball

Class 5A girls

At Kansas Expocentre, Topeka

Thursday's Quarterfinals

3 P.M.

No. 6 Andover (16-6) —After falling short of the state tournament by one game the last two years, Andover broke through this season to qualify for the first time since 1998. The Trojans have a nice base in Audrey Meisch, Catherine Cranmer, Amy Williams and Taylor Tilson. If Meisch and Tilson are hitting from the outside, it would make Andover a tough out in the tournament.

No. 3 Blue Valley (18-4) —Blue Valley has qualified three out of the last four years. Blue Valley doesn't rely on one main scorer, though the leaders are Aeriel Smith, Taylor Leathers and Bailey Geiman. Blue Valley has never lost in the last four years when it has allowed under 40 points.

4:45

No. 7 Emporia (16-6) —The 5-foot-11 post Courtney Waldner suffered an ACL injury at the end of last season, keeping Emporia out of the state playoffs. Now that she has returned, Emporia is a dangerous team with a nice supporting cast in Ciera Hastings, Taylor Elbe and Megan McRell.

No. 2 McPherson (20-2) —McPherson is back in Topeka for the 15th time in 16 seasons. The Bullpups have two of the better players in the state in 5-foot-9 guard Casyn Buchman and 6-0 post Katelyn Loecker. They combine to average 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. The Bullpups have won seven state titles.

6:30

No. 8 Highland Park (13-9) —The Scots lost four of five during the middle of the season, then responded with a four-game winning streak to reach state. The team has shown the ability to score, but how long the Scots stay will likely come down to how well the team defends.

No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (22-0) —The Saints are back for their 17th straight appearance, which included state titles in 2001 and 2004. Aquinas can score with anyone, led by do-everything DaShawn Harden and supported by Nelly Weledji, Maggie Harrison and Tia Weledji.

8:15

No. 5 Bishop Carroll (16-6) —This season has been a turbulent, yet Carroll reached the state tournament for the 16th time in Don Racine's 23 seasons. After ending the regular season with two straight losses, defense helped carry Carroll through sub-state. The Eagles look to create offense from their defense, specifically with Sarah Balderas.

No. 4 Shawnee Heights (18-4) —Shawnee Heights has a special player in Cierra Ceazer, who averages 18 points, but the team is at its best when it has balanced scoring from Cassidy Downing, Erin Maxwell and Kylee Kennedy. Shawnee Heights brings a 10-game winning streak into the tournament.

Friday's Semifinals

Blue Valley-Andover winner vs. McPherson-Emporia winner, 3 p.m.

Aquinas-Highland Park winner vs. Shawnee Heights-Carroll winner, 6:30

Saturday's Finals

Third-place game, noon

Championship, 4 p.m.

The Eagle's Picks

Joanna Chadwick: St. Thomas Aquinas over McPherson

Chris Elliott: McPherson over St. Thomas Aquinas

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