It’s back-to-back titles for the Garden Plain Owls. Garden Plain won its second title in two years with a 47-40 win over the Sterling Black Bears in the Class 2A State championship at Fort Hays State University. The Owls won the 3A championship in Hutchinson last season.
The Owls had a solid 29-15 lead at halftime, but had to fight off a furious Sterling comeback in the third quarter. Lauren Danahy led the Owls in scoring all three games, with a game-high 15 in Saturday’s championship. Abby Gordon added 10. Other scorers were Kennedy Horacek 6, Alli Puetz 5, Natasha Dooley 5, Christia Rose Gorges 3, Brooke Hammond 2 and Kara Heimerman 1.
It’s the fifth State girls basketball championship for Garden Plain High School. Many of the team members were on the volleyball team that claimed the 2A volleyball championship on the same court four months ago. Garden Plain’s girls basketball teams have made 15 trips to the final four. Saturday’s game was the Owls’ eighth appearance in a title game.
At the same as the Owls were winning their title, the Cheney Cardinals girls basketball team came oh-so-close to winning their second State championship. The Cardinals went to over time against Royal Valley – the team that Garden Plain beat in last year’s 3A title game – before falling 55-52.
Cheney and Royal Valley were tied at 46 at the end of regulation. The Cardinals held a 43-39 lead with 3:27 left to play, but Royal Valley closed out the fourth game on the 7-3 run. The teams were tied at halftime. Cheney went up 39-32 with a 7-0 run to start the second half. Three Cardinals were in double figures: Kylee Scheer with 15 points, Layne Needham with 14 and Destinee O’Shea with 10. Olivia Albers added 7 points, and Camdyn Pipkin had 2.
The Cheney girls have made nine final-four appearances and have now played in five state title games. Their last title game was in 2017 in Hutchinson, and they won the 4A championship in 2010 as part of an undefeated season and part of a 52-0 run that ended in the 2011 championship.
Read this Thursday’s Times-Sentinel for more coverage of the Owls and Cardinals.
State title game photos – Cheney
First it was Garden Plain, and then it was Cheney. The Owls and the Cardinals both will play for State titles on Saturday afternoon after winning semifinals on Friday. The teams are in the same spot, but got there in different way.
Garden Plain 55, Wabunsee 51
The Garden Plain Owls found themselves trailing for much of Friday’s semifinal against the Patriots on Friday afternoon in Hays. But they kept hanging around, and extended the game with a 3-point basket by Lauren Danahy on an assist by Kara Heimerman. Danahy – who had a double-double in Wednesday’s first-round win – again was the driving force in Friday’s victory. She scored a game-high 20 points. The Owls spread around the rest of the scoring, with 8 points from Heimerman and Kennedy Horacek, 7 from Natasha Dooley, 6 from Abby Gordon, 5 from Alli Puetz and 1 from Christia Rose Gorges. Garden Plain struggled a bit shooting for much of the game, but went 7-for-9 in the fourth quarter and was 2-for-2 on 3-point shots. Horacek hit a couple of key 3s in the second half, where she scored all of her points.
The No. 4 seed Owls (20-4) will play in the title game against No. 3 Sterling (21-4), which beat No. 2 Trego Community 68-49. The top two seeds fell on Friday. Saturday’s tip off is at 4 p.m. at Gross Memorial Coliseum on the Fort Hays State University campus.
Garden Plain won the 3A girls State championship last year, and many of the same players were on last fall’s 2A State championship volleyball team.
Cheney 60, Nemaha Central 48
The Cardinals jumped out to a fast start against the Thunder. Kylee Scheer opened with a pair of 3-point baskets and a Destine O’Shea bucket made it 8-0 when the game was barely two minutes old. By the end of the quarter, Cheney led 17-6, and it was 30-14 at halftime. The Cardinals led by as many as 20 in the first half, and by as many as 22 in the third quarter, when they doubled up the Thunder 44-22. Nemaha Central closed the gap in the fourth quarter, outscoring Cheney 18-12, and got to within 11 points in the closing minutes but never really threatened Cheney’s hold on the game. Scheer led all scorers with 25 points, and Destinee O’Shea and Layne Needham added 15 each. Needham was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc, while Scheer and O’Shea both went 4-for-6.
The No. 1 Cardinals (23-2) will face a foe who is familiar with the title game. No. 6 Royal Valley (20-5) lost to Garden Plain at last year’s 3A title game. Royal Valley got back into the championship with a 53-44 victory over No. 2 Norton. Saturday’s contest tips off at 4 p.m. at the Hutchinson Sports Arena on the Hutchinson Community College campus.
Cheney’s last State appearance was in 2017, when both the girls and boys teams played in championship games.
The first rounds of State basketball wrapped up Thursday, and two of three local teams have advanced and will play games on Friday and Saturday.
Closest to home, Cheney’s Kylee Scheer scored a 3A State single-game record 38 points to power the Cardinals – the top seed in 3A – over No. 8 Columbus. Scheer made 17 of 24 shots including going 4-for-9 on 3-pointers. Destinee O’Shea and Layne Needham were in double digits with 10 points each, and Halley Jones had the Cardinals’ final 4 points. Lexi Cline grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Cheney (22-2) now will face No. 4 Nemaha Central (21-3), which topped No. 5 Clay Center 52-42. That game tips off at 6:30 p.m. at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Out at the 2A tournament in Hays, the Garden Plain Owls – the No. 4 seed and the defending 3A champion – jumped out to an early 14-4 lead over No. 5 West Elk and beat the Patriots 52-40. Three Owls were in double figures, led by Lauren Danahy. She had a double-double with 15 points and 18 rebounds. Abby Gordon added 14 points, and Natasha Dooley had 10.
Garden Plain (19-4) now faces top seed Wabaunsee (20-3), which opened the tournament with a big 91-42 victory over No. 8 Heritage Christian Academy (9-12). Heritage Christian was the only team in the field with a losing record; every other team had 17 or more wins.
A victory for Cheney or Garden Plain means a berth in a title game on Saturday. Girls championship games across the state tip off at 4 p.m. The third-place games begin at noon.
Goddard’s bid for its first girls State basketball championship ended with a 36-34 loss to the Blue Valley Southwest Timberwolves. It was a close game start to finish. A 3-point BV Southwest lead was turned around by the Lions, we were up 23-17 at halftime. Southwest started the third quarter with a 9-1 run, taking the lead 26-25 at the 4:45 mark. The Lions got the lead back on a pair of Kade Hackerott free throws.
That sparked a 7-0 run as the Lions regained the advantage, 32-26 just before the end of the third quarter. But Goddard – which had struggled to make shots during the game – managed just 2 more points in the fourth quarter. An 8-0 run by Southwest but the Timberwolves ahead 34-32 with 2:22 to play. Hackerott made a pair of free throws with 1:24 to go to tied the game at 34, but the Lions missed field goals and free throw opportunities in the last few minutes. A foul call on the Lions gave Southwest a pair of free throws, which the converted for a 36-34 lead with 1:01 to play. Hackerott led Goddard with 7 points, and Brooke Sullivan and Torri Vang added 6 each.