pictured is Aubrie Kierscht, picture courtesy of Tanner Colvin
Overland Park St. Thomas Aquinas 52 Salina Central 38
Emporia – St. Thomas Aquinas captured their 6th straight 5A State Championship Saturday night at White Auditorium in Emporia. It was their 10 State Title overall which moves them into second place all-time. They trail fellow Eastern Kansas League Member Bishop Miege, who won their 23rd Championship with a 71-45 victory over Eudora in Class 4A at the Tony’s Event Center in Salina.
Saturday night, St.Thomas Aquinas used a 14-2 run to open the 4th quarter to put the game away. The Lady Mustangs fell behind by as many as 16 points in the final quarter after they had trailed 36-32 at the end of the 3rd.
The Lady Mustangs trailed 14-12 at the end of the opening quarter. In Salina Central’s first two wins of the tournament, they took control of the game in the 2nd quarter. The tables were turned on the Lady Mustangs Saturday night. The Lady Saints used a 12-0 run and held Salina Central scoreless for over 5 minutes to build an 11-point lead in the 2nd quarter. The Lady Mustangs used a 4-0 at the end of the first half to trial 26-19 at the break.
Salina Central, opened the second half with a 7-3 run that was capped by a three-pointer by Senior, Aubrie Kierscht, that cut the deficit to 29-26 with 3:15 to play in the 3rd quarter. The Lady Mustangs wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the night.
St. Thomas Aquinas, used their height, as an advantage all night. The started 6’3” Beatrice Culliton, 6’3” Charlotte O’Keefe, and 5’11” Kelsey Schenck. They brought 6’2” Tatum Grimes off the bench. The Lady Saints out-rebounded Salina Central 42-19 in the victory.
St. Thomas Aquinas finished the season 23-2. They were led by Culliton. The Senior, who has scored over 1,000 career points and will play at Oklahoma next season, finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds. The Lady Saints also got 10 points from Schenck, who scored the first 7 points of the 4th quarter to help seal the victory.
For Salina Central, they finished the season 24-1. It was their 2nd title game appearance. They fell 64-53 to Leavenworth in 2014. Under Chris Fear, the Lady Mustangs have now made the State Tournament 4 times in his 6 seasons. They were led in scoring Saturday night, by Aubrie Kierscht, who finished with 17 points. She will play at Navy next season. It was the final game for Landry Stewart, Hampton Williams, Kierscht, and Chaliscia Samilton.