Lady Oilers reach eighth-straight state championship
WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Central Plains has set the state standard with eight-straight state championships. Check that. The Lady Oilers were favorites to win a seventh-consecutive title in 2020 before Covid ended the season two games short. The Oilers made it seven-straight last year and will play for an eighth-straight championship after hanging on against Hanover 49-44 in the Class 1A, Div. II championships at Barton Community College.
“They’re warriors,” said CPHS coach Pat Stiles. “They just do not care. The defense tonight was amazing. I just couldn’t be more proud of them, and they’re just way too good to beat.”
Central Plains controlled the first half to the tune of a 26-15 halftime lead. That began to change as Hanover turned up the pressure in the third quarter. Wildcat junior Ceegan Atkins took a steal the distance early on, and freshman Anna Jueneman hit a baseline runner with three minutes to play in the quarter for a 30-27 score. The Lady Oilers turned the ball over 10 times in the frame.
“They’re so long and athletic,” Stiles said. “It was tough to make a pass.”
The Lady Oilers picked it up to start the fourth. Sophomore Mollie Steiner scored in transition, then junior Reese McGuire turned a steal into free throws. Two free throws from senior Madison McGuire pushed the lead back to 39-29 with 6:02 to play.
Hanover made one final push. Atkins took another of her seven steals to the rack, then sophomore Tessa Lohse canned a three. Senior Michelle Zarybnicky stole the ensuing inbounds pass and turned it into free throws. The Oiler lead dwindled to 39-37.
But Central Plains has lived on defense over the past decade and that was the winning formula Friday night. Kyla Metro found senior Kassidy Nixon for a basket, then Nixon put back her own miss for a 43-37 cushion.
Lady Oiler junior Brynna Hammeke battled serious cramps late but grabbed a defensive board and found Nixon on the outlet. Nixon returned the favor with a pair of steals and assists to Hammeke to ice the game late.
“All year our offense came off our defense a lot of times,” Stiles said. “But the half-court game, in the beginning, we played extremely well to get that lead.”
The Lady Oilers cruised early on, getting an early layup and three from Hammeke, and another triple from Metro to pull ahead 8-0. Hammeke found senior Madison McGuire on an inbounds pass to put Central Plains on top 13-4 after one quarter.
Lady Oiler junior Reese McGuire, who played against Central Plains in last year’s state championship, hit a pair of threes in the second to help the Oilers to a 26-15 halftime lead.
Atkins paced Hanover with 15 points and seven steals. Avery Behrends added 11 points, and Allison Jueneman grabbed eight rebounds to go with four points. Hanover falls to 20-5 heading into Saturday’s third-place game against Central Christian (21-4).
Hammeke missed some late minutes due to cramps but still finished with 18 points, six assists, and three steals. Nixon battled foul trouble but finished with eight points, six boards, and six steals. Reese McGuire also scored eight points, and Madison McGuire added seven points.
Central Plains’ lone loss this season came against a Sterling team playing for its second-straight title in Class 2A. The Lady Oilers will see an unbeaten in Golden Plains Saturday. The night has added significance as Jackie Stiles, the former Claflin High great and daughter of Coach Stiles, will be on hand as part of KSHSAA’s celebration of the 50-year anniversary of Title XI.
“It’s cool that she’s here,” Coach Stiles said. “It’s going to be fun tomorrow.”
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