Royal Valley ends Eureka's storybook season

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - With defending champ Garden Plain dropping to Class 2A this season, Royal Valley entered the year as the top finishing team in the class. A win over Eureka Wednesday puts them one step closer to getting back to the title game in 2019.

Mary Broxterman proved unstoppable for the Lady Panthers, using a big first quarter and second half to lead the way with 25 in a 56-36 win in the 3A state quarterfinals.

The loss for Eureka is just the fourth on the season for coach Shelly Hoyt after she led the Tornadoes to their first state tournament in school history less than a year after an actual tornado ripped through the town.

The Lady Panthers jumped out to a quick start, holding an 11-4 first quarter lead before Eureka came back to cut it as close as two.

Then the second quarter proved to be the spot that Royal Valley would start to pull away, the Lady Panthers hitting 4/5 shots from deep, and a couple others that were near three pointers dropping, giving them a 30-17 halftime lead.

They wouldn't look back, extending the lead to as much as 27 with just under three minutes left in the third before ultimately getting the 20 point win.

In addition to Broxterman dropping 25, Mahpiya Irving had 11 and Emily Albright 10 for Royal Valley. Madelyn Koop lead all scorers for the Tornadoes with 11, posting a double-double with 12 rebounds.

For Royal Valley to get back to the state title game, they'll again have to pull an upset by seeding in a game against #2 Norton. A year ago they reached the state title game as the 7 seed, meaning the journey is nothing new for the Lady Panthers.