ST. JOHN — On Saturday night, the St. John-Hudson High School girls’ basketball team beat Victoria 58-24 to earn a berth in the Class 1A Division-I state tournament.
Today, the Lady Tigers (20-2), who are ranked No. 3 in the final Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, will take on their first challenger, Lost Springs-Centre (16-6), at White Auditorium in Emporia at 4:45 p.m.
The Lady Cougars, who beat Langdon-Fairfield 60-37 in a sub-state championship game, have two players averaging double figures, Shelby Makovec (14.2 points) and Cacey Simons (11.7).
“They have a really good point guard and a really good, tall forward/guard,” St. John head coach Danny Smith said. “They play aggressive. They play hard on rebounds. They’re experienced, too. They were at the state tournament last year.”
Centre’s Ally Basore, a 5-foot-11 freshman post player, leads her team in rebounds with an 8.4 rebounds-per-game average.
The undersized Lady Tigers have three girls in double figures.
St. John’s seniors, Jamie Waters and Morgan Osborne, average 12.4 and 10.0 points per game, respectively.
“They have a great understanding of what we want to do,” Smith said. “They’ve bought in to what we want to do. They love what we do, and they really do a great job of doing what we want to do. They drive the rest of us.”
Teresa Christie averages 12.1 points.
“We’re way better shooters, all around,” Waters said of her team compared to last year. “Everybody can shoot the ball on the court. I really look to get the ball to other people. I’m kind of unselfish, and sometimes I turn the ball over trying to get the ball to other girls.
“Sometimes, I feel like you got to score. Somebody’s got to score. Everybody has to step up and sometimes you have to be the person. Senior year, you’ve got to step up.”
The Lady Tigers finished runners-up last season after losing 55-45 to Hoxie in the state championship game.
St. John’s bread and butter is its defense. Its opponents average 29.0 turnovers per game.
The Lady Tigers have 639 steals this season.
“Defense is what we are,” Osborne said. “That’s all we ever work on in practice is defense. The more pressure we have on the ball, it’s going to make it harder for them to get it inside, which is easier for smaller people like us.”