6A State Preview: LHS girls to meet defending champ Washburn Rural in quarterfinal

The No. 4-seeded Lawrence High girls basketball team will make its first state appearance in six years against defending state champion Washburn Rural on Thursday in Wichita.

Meeting the fifth-seeded Junior Blues (16-5) for the first time this season, LHS (18-4) enters the game unscathed through its last six games, including two substate victories on its home floor. Rural earned its state seat on the road at cross-town rival Topeka High, defeating the Trojans 45-29 in the substate championship.

Trailing by five at the end of the first quarter last week against Wichita South, LHS turned the game on its head. Sophomore leading scorer Brynnae Johnson finished with 24 points, with three seniors – Amaya Marshall, Lucy Hardy, and Daphne Bracker Sturm – also dipping into double figures.

The Lady Lions’ defense struggled to protect the arc early during last weekend’s substate contest, allowing five 3s from W-South in the first quarter. Two Rural seniors, Brooklyn DeLeye and Chloe Carlgren will be the top shooters to defend this time around.

DeLeye, named the Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year this past fall, dropped 17 points during last week’s win over the Trojans to punch their state ticket. Carlgren added 11 toward the effort.

Even with a senior turnover — the Junior Blues lost five players from its championship team — Rural fronts a capable defense that’s up to par with the one featured at last year’s state tournament.

Rural held Topeka High within single-digit scoring through the first three quarters of last weekend’s substate finale. LHS has plenty of experience climbing out of holes, but matching Rural’s tempo play-for-play right from the tipoff will be a must for Lawrence High coach Jeff Dickson’s group.

The winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal round will meet either No. 1 Shawnee Mission South (22-0) or No. 8 Overland Park-Blue Valley (15-7) in the semifinal on Friday. A win on Thursday also guarantees a slot in Saturday’s third-place championship slated for 2 p.m.

Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. at Koch Arena in Wichita.


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