State bound: LHS girls rout Wichita South in substate championship

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High holds up the trophy after advancing to the state tournament by defeating Wichita South to win the substate championship on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

The Lawrence High girls’ basketball team is headed to state. No. 3-seeded LHS (18-4) outran No. 6 Wichita South 76-53 in Saturday’s substate championship, earning its first state playoff seat since 2017.

W-South stormed out front right from the tipoff, burying 5 of 7 three-point attempts in the first quarter. LHS, burning two timeouts in the first, refocused and dropped 17 combined points for sophomore Brynnae Johnson, senior Lucy Hardy and junior Destiny Savannah.

Entering the second quarter down 25-20, the Lady Lions found its rhythm with a 13-1 run that saw senior center Daphne Bracker Sturm grab LHS’ first lead of the game midway through the second and the Lady Lions never gave it up.

“They made so many sacrifices to put themselves in this position,” LHS coach Jeff Dickson said after the win. “To see it come to fruition is why you coach. You want kids to be able to face adversity and come through it the right way.”

Four LHS girls – Johnson (24 points), Marshall (19 points), Bracker Sturm (12 points) and Lucy Hardy (11 points) – paved the way with double-figure performances. Marshall finished matching a game-high five 3s.

Titans juniors Zion Butler and RaMya Kennedy, who’d dropped eight or more points each in the first quarter, were practically silent in the second. Six second-quarter turnovers by W-South proved costly, as LHS stormed ahead 40-30 at the break.

Dickson’s group has made countless strides from a year ago when LHS finished with a losing record and a disappointing first-round loss at substate. The early shot in the mouth is something Dickson feels his team’s ready to throw right back in the opponent’s face.

“Last year, we probably don’t come back from that,” Dickson said of the early deficit.

“We were a team last year that when we shot well, we were pretty good but if we took a hit like that, we didn’t fight back, we’d close ourselves off and our body language wouldn’t be very good. You just don’t see that out of this group. We have tremendous senior leadership and tremendous depth.”

Adding to her ongoing three-point barrage, Marshall sunk two more 3s to open the third quarter, now 4 of 5 behind the arc, as LHS jumped ahead 48-32 with six minutes still to play in the third. W-South, cutting within as much as eight in the third, wouldn’t come any closer to reclaiming the lead and entered the fourth quarter down 17.

Entering the fourth, Bracker Sturm collected her fourth foul of the game but remained disciplined through the final eight minutes of play. Dickson said keeping his senior big disciplined was crucial to sealing the deal.

“(Bracker Sturm) is such a difference-maker on the defensive end and sometimes people don’t appreciate what she does for us when she doesn’t score,” Dickson said. “She is a massive presence in there and has gotten better and better about sliding her feet.”

LHS, leading 68-51 with 4:26 to go, picked up five more points by Johnson and Bracker Sturm through the final buzzer. Free throws by Johnson, Marshall and senior Serenity Keo (5 points) secured Lady Lions’ substate championship win.

The Lady Lions will pack their bags for the state tournament in Wichita next week beginning March 8. Brackets will soon be made available by


Lawrence High (76): Johnson 7-12, 7-8, 24, Marshall 5-7, 4-4, 19, Bracker-Sturm 4-4, 4-5, 12, L. Hardy 5-9, 0-0, 11, Keo 2-8, 1-2, 5, Savannah 1-1, 0-0, 3, C. Hardy 0-1, 2-4, 2. Totals: 24-43, 18-23, 76.

Wichita South (53): Z. Butler 6-16, 2-4, 19, R. Kennedy 7-11, 0-2, 17, M. Butler 1-9, 3-6, 6, A. Kennedy 1-1, 3-5, 5, Smith 1-5, 1-2, 3, Hollumn 1-1, 0-0, 3. Totals: 17-47, 9-19, 53.

3FGs: LHS 10-20 (Marshall 5, Johnson 3, L. Hardy 1, Savannah 1); W-South 10-26 (Z. Butler 5, R. Kennedy 3, M. Butler 1, Hollumn 1) TOs: LHS 19; W-South 17. Fouled out: none.


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