By RICK PETERSON
The majority of college coaches and athletes go through their entire career without making it to a final four.
But it's always a goal, and it's something Davy Phillips has made a habit of and that his Washburn University women's soccer team will get an opportunity to experience this week in Matthews, N.C.
After punching their ticket to the final four for the first time in program history with Sunday's 1-0 win over Grand Valley State, the 20-3-1 Ichabods will face Adelphi University (15-3-5) at 1 p.m. on Thursday in a national semifinal. With a win WU will play for the national title at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
"At the beginning of the year you kind of look at some really lofty goals and some really attainable goals and I think that final four and national championship is one of the loftier goals no doubt, but it's a possibility,'' Phillips said.
"Six years ago in the interview process I told them my goal was to win the national championship. I've been really close. At my previous school (Baker University) I was in the final four three times, so it's not expected but it's something we've worked for and it's certainly a career goal of mine, definitely.''
Facing a brutal wind in Sunday's national quarterfinal, Washburn kept the game scoreless until freshman Grace Peterson scored the game-winning goal, the first goal of her collegiate career, in the 81st minute and WU star senior goalkeeper Raegan Wells and the Ichabod defense did the rest, preserving the 1-0 win.
"The wind was pretty intense and we were against the wind the first half, so it was, 'Can we defend, defend, defend and get to halftime?' '' Phillips said. "Then at halftime we just talked, 'OK, now it's our turn to really go at them,' and I thought we were the better team in the second half.''
Sunday's win was another nail-biter in the Ichabods' four-game postseason run to the national final four, with all four games being decided by a single goal, including two overtime wins.
"There's a tremendous amount of belief in this group right now and that's really hard to deal with for the opposition, when you truly believe in something,'' Phillips said. "The girls' work rate I think reflects that. Without question, those wins, when they start accumulating, you find belief in what works and you gain confidence from that.''
By RICK PETERSON
Seaman's No. 4-ranked (Class 5A) girls basketball team might not have been quite as sharp at Topeka West Tuesday night as the Vikings had been in last Thursday's season-opener when they hung 82 points on Lansing while shooting 57 percent from the field.
But the Vikings were still very good, improving to 2-0 overall and in the United Kansas Conference with a 59-27 win over the Chargers.
"We played hard,'' Seaman coach Matt Tinsley said. "We played real hard, so I'm proud of the effort. Sometimes when you don't hit a shot you press a little bit and I told the girls, 'We've really got to get some step-in shots.'
"I thought we just settled too much and when the ball movement is better inside-out you can step into those shots and it's easier to shoot and hit and we did that as the game went on.''
Topeka West (0-2, 0-2) was still within four points after a bucket at the 2:37 mark of the opening quarter, but the Vikings ran off the final six points of the quarter to open up a 17-6 advantage and took a commanding 31-14 cushion to the locker room at halftime.
By RICK PETERSON
Topeka West's boys basketball team may not have that one go-to guy that it can count on when it really needs a bucket.
The flip side is that after back-to-back impressive performances to open the 2023-2024 season it looks like veteran West coach Rick Bloomquist may have several guys that can fill that role.
Topeka West improved to 2-0 overall and in the United Kansas Conference Tuesday night, taking a 69-49 home win over Seaman as three Chargers scored at least 15 points and a fourth player added nine.
"We've got things we've got to shore up, no question, and we're not perfect by any means,'' Bloomquist said. "We just have to learn to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, but I'm very pleased.
"To come back on a team that shoots as well as Seaman does and is as well-coached as they are, it's a good win for us.''
Kamoni Ford, a 6-foot-5 junior, came off the bench to lead West with a game-high 17 points, including three 3-pointers, while junior Jalen Foy added 16 points and junior Ja'Vian Chambers 15 points.
By RICK PETERSON
Highland Park, hosting the first of back-to-back tournaments, claimed the girls team championship in Saturday's Highland Park Invitational by a 64-48 margin over city rival Topeka West.
The Scots got individual championships from Kim Rodriguez at 105 pounds, Renea Easter at 125 and Kylisha James at 170.
Runnerup Topeka West got a title from Ziona Jackson at 135 while Hayden got gold medals from Kylie Carswell (115), Kate Mead (120) and Natalie Hopper (140).
Topeka High posted a runnerup team finish in the boys division with 159 points while Hayden finished third with 139 points. De Soto won the team championship with 226.5 points.
The Trojans got individual titles from Luis Marones at 113 points and Jordan Stiner at 138 while Hayden's Jude Krentz claimed the 175-pound individual championships.
Highland Park will host the Melvin Douglas Invitational on Saturday.
Rural girls take Leavenworth Challenger title
Washburn Rural, the reigning Class 6A state girls team champion, rolled up 393 points to take the title in Saturday's season-opening 14-school Leavenworth Challenger.
By RICK PETERSON
KAEVON BONNER, Seaman
A 6-foot-1 sophomore, Bonner opened his 2023-2024 basketball season with a 28-point performance in Seaman's 58-49 home United Kansas Conference victory over Lansing last Thursday. Bonner went nine of 16 from the field and hit four 3-pointers on the night as the Vikings built a game-high 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter on the strength of eight straight points by Bonner.
JALEN FOY, Topeka West
Foy, a 6-foot-2 junior, scored a game-high 23 points as Topeka West opened its basketball season on Friday with a 52-37 home United Kansas Conference win over Basehor-Linwood, a Class 5A state tournament team last season. Foy connected on 10 of 16 field goal attempts on the night, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Chargers pulled away down the stretch for their biggest lead of the game.
NORMA GRECO, Hayden
A 5-foot-6 junior, Greco led the way with a game-high 17 points in just three quarters of action as Hayden's girls, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, opened their season with a 74-12 non-league victory over Kansas City-Washington last Friday at Hayden.