It’s being billed as the “Sub-State championship game.”
But in reality, you can almost take out the “sub.”
Tonight’s Class 5A Sub-State Tournament championship game between McPherson High's girls and Carroll at 7:00 at the Roundhouse will have a state championship game feel.
You have two legendary programs. McPherson has won 9 state titles and made 31 state appearances. Its 48 state tourney wins is second only to the 80 accumulated by Bishop Miege. While Carroll has just one title, its 31 career state wins ranks in a tie for seventh with Buhler.
The Bullpups are coming off a state championship season, having won the now-dissolved Class 4A Division I title with stunning come-from-behind 62-58 overtime victory over mighty Miege.
Carroll made the 5A finals last year, losing 54-40 to St. Thomas Aquinas, which is the No. 1 team in the class again this year.
The MHS-Carroll game and the Wichita Heights-Maize game clearly are the must-see games of the night in Class 5A. Meanwhile on the East side of the bracket, it’s basically St. Thomas Aquinas and then everybody else.
The McPherson girls advanced on Wednesday with a hard-earned 62-49 victory over an Andover team that was easily the best No. 14-seed in any class. The Trojans shot it well and made repeated runs at the Bullpups, but in the end MHS had too much of a skillset.
Carroll was given a good push by Newton, but the Golden Eagles shook free in the second half for a 50-39 victory after it was just a one-point game at the break.
The Golden Eagles aren’t a deep team. They only utilized seven players against Newton and were carried by 6-0 post Britney Ho with 18 points and 5-5 point guard Allison McFarren with 17. Of the seven who generally play for Carroll, there are two sophomores and a freshman. Hoe and McFarren are the only seniors.
Other than Ho, there's not a lot of size. The other six contributors are in the 5-5 to 5-7 range.
MHS has gone up against Carroll in numerous sports down through the years. A command thread, no matter the sport, is that Golden Eagle teams are always well coached, they play hard and are fundamentally sound.
Bullpup coach Chris Strathman was relatively pleased with his team's effort against Andover. The Bullpups shot it reasonably well (23 of 50, 8 of 22 from 3-point) from the field, but made just 8 of 14 from the line, with Lakyn Schieferecke propping up the numbers by going 6 of 6.
A key was that MHS won the battle of the boards 31-27, with nice work being done by Hannah Hageman (7 rebounds), while Emma Ruddle and Maggie Leaf had 5 apiece. The Bullpups also handled it well with just 9 turnovers, an area they have been solid all year. It doesn't come as a surprise since the Bullpups have such skilled perimeter players.
One thing MHS didn't do, however, on Wednesday was force a chunk of turnovers as so often is the case. Give the Trojans credit for turning it over only 12 times, but remember MHS is now without defensive stopper Riley Hett, out for the year with a broken hand.
No matter the outcome tonight, one of the best teams in the state won't be moving on to Emporia. The power is in the West, where there are six or seven teams capable of winning state and only four can advance, while in the East it appears all the eggs are in Aquinas' basket.