Coldwater-South Central Timberwolves (23-0)
Coach: Tim Rietzke (36th season, 749-445)
School’s past state experience: Eighth qualification, finished third in 2011
Statistical leaders: Bri Rutherford 21 ppg; R. Alexander 12.8 ppg.
Projected starters: Bri Rutherford 5-7, jr.; Rylee Alexander, 5-10, sr.; Kassadee Harris, 5-9, sr.;, Taylor Bayne, 5-10, sr.; Jordyn Jellison, 6-0, sr.
Team notes: “This team may be the best offensive girls team I have had, but we are still a work in progress on the defensive end,” Rietzke said. “We have a team that is best in transition.”
Hanover Wildcats (19-3)
Coach: Christopher Beikmann (2nd year, 42-5 career record)
School’s past state experience: Won last year in 2017, 7th qualification.
Statistical leaders: Macy Doebele 18.5 ppg, 6.8 ppg, Tianna Lohse 10.9 ppt
Projected starters: Makenna Jueneman 5-5, so.; Tianna Lohse 5-9, so.; Macy Doebele 5-11, jr.; Claire Zarbnicky 5-6, sr.; Taylor Klipp 5’7, sr
Notes: The Wildcats enter the tournament on a 10-game win streak. “It has been a fun and successful season getting back to state getting the opportunity to defend our title,” Beikmann said.
Stockton Tigers (17-6)
Coach: Alexa Rogers (5th year, 66-46)
Past state experience: Last season, the Tigers made their first state appearance since 1999. This is the program’s sixth appearance with the first coming in 1973.
Projected starters: Madalyn Billinger, 5-4, sr.; Delayne Colburn, 5-6, sr.; Shae Griffin, 5-4, sr.; Shayanne Wente, 5-10, sr.; Haven Hamilton, 5-11, sr.
Stat leaders: Hamilton, 15.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg; Colburn, 10.8 ppg; Griffin, 14.8 ppg.
Notes: The Tigers are a senior-laden team with five seniors, but have no juniors, so the underclassmen are getting valuable experience. The Tigers might boast one of the best players in the tournament in Hamilton, who has had her ups and downs through her career with injuries. Stockton made the state tourney last season for the first time since the late 1990s, falling to eventual runner-up Olpe in the first round. The Tigers drew the No. 8 seed and will play unbeaten Coldwater-South Central, but arguably played the toughest schedule of any team in the tournament with 2A qualifier Hill City, Class 2A sub-state runner-up and Class 3A state qualifier TMP-Marian all on their slate.
Frankfort Wildcats (19-4)
Coach: Brian Ebert (2nd at Frankfort, overall record 252-124)
School’s past state experience: Fourth qualification, first since 2010. Runner-up in 1981.
Statistical leaders: Emilee Ebert, 20 ppg, 9 rpg; Kennen Brandt, 10 ppg, 7 rpg.
Projected starters: Becca Adams 5-4, sr.; Kaci Vaughn 5-7, sr.; Jessa Yaussi 5-9, sr.; Emilee Ebert 6-0, jr.; Kennen Brandt 5-8, so.
Notes: The Wildcats have posted big wins over 3A schools Silver Lake and Rossville. They also knocked off Alma-Wabaunsee, which was ranked No. 1 in 2A at the time.
Rural Vista Heat (18-4)
Coach: Kane Hensley (3rd season, 43-23)
School’s past state experience: 2nd qualification, lost first round in 2017
Statistical leaders: Lauren Campuzano, 19.7 ppg; Hannah Riedy, 8.9 ppg
Projected starters: Holly Brockmeier, 5-8, so.; Jessyka Barten, 5-4, jr.; Lauren Campuzano, 5-9, jr.; Hannah Riedy, 5-8, so.; Jordyn Sanford, 5-6, jr.
Notes: The Heat are averaging 50.3 points per game. Rural Vista has won its last four games, including a 41-36 over Chase County in the sub-state final.
Thunder Ridge Longhorns (21-2)
Coach: Darren Grauerholz (9th year, 169-62)
Past state experience: This is the fourth state appearance for Thunder Ridge as a combined school with former Agra-Eastern Heights. The Longhorns made state two seasons ago in back-to-back years, and in 2013. Kensington-West Smith County made the state semifinals one time, coming in 1991.
Stat leaders: Elizabeth Hardacre, 6-1, jr., 11.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg; Brennan Kirchhoff 5-2, soph., 9.8 ppg; 4.4 rpg, 3.7 spg; Layne Pettijohn, 5-3, jr.; 8.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.4 apg; Mariah Stauffer, 5-8, jr.; 9.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.0 spg.
Notes: The Longhorns are a relatively young team with just one senior on the roster in Kennedy Rietzke. Much of the Longhorns’ offense in the half court goes through 6-foot-1 junior Elizabeth Hardacre, who is better known in Kensington as Libby, yet Thunder Ridge boasts excellent guard play out of junior Layne Pettijohn, sophomore Jaden Boden and sophomore Brennan Kirchhoff.
Thunder Ridge, the No. 2 seed and ranked sixth in the final coaches rankings, might be one of the best defensive teams in the tournament, thriving on full-court pressure and fast-break layups. The Longhorns’ last loss came in overtime to Class 2A state qualifier Hill City on Feb. 19. It snapped a 14-game winning streak.
St. John-Hudson Tigers (17-6)
Coach: Danny Smith (18th season, 227-100)
School’s past state experience: Fifth qualification under Smith, won state in 2009, runner-up in 2012
Statistical leaders: Tara Nelson 16 ppg, 8 rpg
Probable starters: Bree Meyer, so.; Jackie Rios, jr.; Torre Fisher, jr.; Paige Doran, jr.; Tara Nelson, sr.
Notes: All 6 of St. John’s losses this season were to ranked teams Central Plains. Its the first season since 2013 that both St. John boys and girls have qualified for state.
St. Paul Indians (21-2)
Coach: Doug Tuck (29th season, 561-121)
School’s past state experience: 10th qualification, placed third in 2016
Statistical leaders: Katelin O’Brien 16.2 pts, Sydney Ryce 8.3 pts
Projected starters: Taylor Wiatrak, so.; Sydney Rice, sr.; Sydney McCracken, jr.; Katelin O’Brien, sr.; Emily Winter, sr.
Notes: St. Paul won its fifth straight Three Rivers league title and is appearing in its fourth state tournament in five years.