“It’s great,” coach Kelly Dennis said. “We’re really excited for Thursday. Free State’s an awfully good team, but we like where are right now and optimistic we can make a little run. We have five seniors, so it’s set up for us to have a strong finish.”
SM North has relied heavily on junior Whitney Harvey this season. She delivered 19 points against the Thunder and 14 against Harrisonville on the way to the championship game, but she’s finally got help inside too.
Senior forward Cassie Ledgerwood, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament (knee) last season, worked her way back into the lineup in time for the tournament and started rounding into form.
“We’ve been pretty small all year without Cassie, so having her back in the lineup has made a difference,” Dennis said.
Of course, SM North’s guards have pulled their weight, too.
Senior Courtney Hughes hit five 3-point baskets in a 53-43 victory over the host Wildcats in the championship game.
Meanwhile, senior India Johnson and junior Darian Dozier, the squad’s primary ball-handlers, have set the tempo SM North wants to play at effectively.
Falcons stay perfect
Thanks to sophomore Kylee Kopatich, undefeated Olathe South hasn’t had much trouble adjusting to life without junior Bailey Rinehart, whose season is finished after she had surgery last week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (knee).
The Falcons mowed through the field last week at McPherson’s Mid-America Classic, increasing their record to 12-0.
Olathe South opened with a 67-33 conquest of Dodge City, win No. 400 for coach Steve Ingram with the Falcons. Next came a 43-35 win against the host Bullpups followed by a 51-48 victory over Manhattan in the championship game.
“We had the big speech,” said Ingram, who is 402-139 in 23 seasons with the Falcons. “We referred back to Kelsey Balcom’s situation when she broke her collarbone, but we still went on to finish second at state and only lost one game the rest of the way. I guess some of them took it to heart.”
Kopatich, in particular, stepped up in McPherson, averaging 24.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Ingram credited the Falcons’ defense and rebounding for paving the way to victory, but he would like to see somebody step up and help take the scoring burden off Kopatich, who leads the Sunflower League at 17.6 points per game.
Additional tourney success
Olathe South and SM North weren’t the Sunflower League’s only champions during midseason tourney action.
Lawrence Free State won its own Firebird Winter Classic, edging Washburn Rural 43-41 in a feisty finale on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Olathe Northwest, which had won eight in a row after a 1-3 start, lost in the championships game at the Newton Invitational. Bishop Miege stunned the Ravens 50-47 in the title game. Topeka Seaman edged Leavenworth 48-41 for the championship at the Glacier’s Edge Tournament in Emporia.
Olathe North wound up seventh at Lawrence Free State’s tourney.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.