Girls nearly make a huge ‘State’-ment
Chieftains fall in final round of Sub-State
The girls are Sub-State runners-up.
Tonganoxie High School's girls basketball team went on a tear in the post-season, advancing all the way to Saturday's Class 4A Sub-State championship game against tournament host Topeka-Hayden.
And though the team lost that game, 43-30, just making it to the game was an achievement.
After slipping in the middle of the season to drop several games below .500, the team regrouped and won three of it last four.
After beating Mill Valley by 22 points to end their regular season, the Chieftains walked through the tournament, beating Perry-Lecompton on its own court on Wednesday and then knocking off top-seeded Jefferson West on Friday.
"We struggled in the mid-season," Foster said. "But the girls continued to work hard and that obviously paid off."
It obviously did.
Wednesday vs. Perry-Lecompton
Five days after domesticating the Mill Valley Jaguars, Tonganoxie battled to a 55-50 first-round win over Perry-Lecompton on its home court Wednesday.
Junior Andrea Korb demonstrated a phenomenal performance leading the girls with 30 of their 50 points.
The Chieftains came out hot, Korb connected on back-to-back three-point shots. The Kaws hit a layup in between them as Tonganoxie jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead.
Perry-Lecompton then went on a 16-9 run to end the quarter.
Down 15-18 after one, the Chieftains quickly took the lead, 19-18, on consecutive scores by Juniors Aimee Eisman and Korb in the opening moments of the second period.
Perry-Lecompton, however, immediately recaptured the lead and held it until the intermission.
The Kaws were up 34-28 at the break but when they came out for the third quarter they ran into a stingy Tonganoxie defense that held them scoreless for the first 2 1/2 minutes of the half.
That was all the time the Chieftains needed to tie the game at 34 behind two baskets from Korb and two free throws from Junior Keri Walker.
But, like in the second quarter, the Kaws immediately answered with a quick basket.
But those were two of only four points that Tonganoxie's defense would allow Perry-Lecompton in the quarter.
The Chieftains were regulars at the foul line in the period. And they capitalized, hitting nine of 12.
Tonganoxie was up 43-38 at the beginning of the final period.
With the season on the line, both teams turned their games up a notch, but Tonganoxie was able to maintain both its composure and its lead, and it took the win.
Korb led the team with her 30 points, and she hit all six of her free-throw attempts. Eisman scored 14.
With the win, Tonganoxie advanced to a second-round meeting with the tournament's top seed, Jefferson West.
Friday vs. Jefferson West
The Chieftains got off to a slow start on Friday at Topeka-Hayden High School before using a second-half surge and 76 percent foul shooting to beat Jeff West, 46-42.
Jeff West jumped out to a 19-6 lead to open the game, as the Chieftains' first-quarter defense proved unable to stop the team's inside game.
But Tonganoxie rallied in the second quarter behind a toughened defensive effort and back-to-back three-pointers from Korb. It was the second game in a row that she had accomplished the feat.
Although Korb carried the scoring load for the Chieftains throughout Sub-State, she said she was only playing her part in the team concept.
"I have to compliment my teammates on that (scoring)," Korb said. "They were the ones who helped get me open and pass me the ball, and we all played really good defense."
And that defense kept the Chieftains alive against Jeff West.
Trailing 22-27 at halftime, Tonganoxie continued to struggle offensively in the third, scoring 10 points. But its defense broke free of all struggles and held Jeff West to only seven in the period.
The Chieftains had pulled the game to a two-point deficit by the end of the third, but they opened the fourth with a walk by Eisman and an air ball from Korb.
After that, though, Tonganoxie settled down, and as the two teams battled, things got rough in the paint forcing the game to be decided at the free-throw stripe.
The two teams shot a combined 14 free throws in the quarter, 11 of which were shot by Tonganoxie.
But Jeff West missed all three of its charity shots, while the Chieftains were able to convert on seven of their attempts to take the win.
Tonganoxie shot 19-26 from the line in the game. Jeff West went 8-22.
"Free-throw shooting and defense won that game," Foster said.
Korb led the team with 16 points. Eisman had 15 points.
The Chieftains won the game despite only hitting 24 percent of its shots (12 of 50).
With the win, the Chieftains advanced to Saturday's championship game against tournament host Topeka-Hayden.
Saturday vs. Topeka-Hayden
Tonganoxie played some of its best defense of the year in Saturday's Sub-State championship game but so did Hayden, and the Chieftains lost to the home team, 30-43, to end their season 10-13.
But Tonganoxie had the early edge, scoring the first three points of the game when Walker connected on the front end of a pair of free throws and Eisman put the second one back in.
But the rest of the quarter saw both teams play stifling defense, and Tonganoxie led 8-7 after one.
The second quarter went the same, and Hayden led 16-13 with a minute to play in the quarter.
At that point, Korb took a charge and hit the front end of a one-and-one, but Hayden answered back with a two-pointer to close out the half up 18-14.
The Chieftains rallied in the third, and pulled within two twice, but Hayden was able to find some offense and led the game 26-20 going into the fourth.
Tonganoxie was only able to pull to within four points of the lead once in the quarter, and Hayden outscored Tonganoxie 19-10 for the 13-point victory.
Foster said she was proud of how her team came together in the post-season.
"Team-wise, we played really well in the tournament," Foster said. "Our team defense kept us in the games."