HUTCHINSON – Three-seeded Silver Lake’s hopes of bringing home its first state title since 2016 were denied by second-seeded Goodland for the second straight year in a 54-51 3A state semifinal loss Friday night.

TaylorRosGoodland 2Silver Lake senior Taylor Ross, shooting a free throw, led the Eagles with 15 points in Friday's 54-51 semifinal loss to Goodland. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

There wasn’t a runaway favorite for the duration of the game.

Several lead changes, adversity with foul trouble and shortened runs for both squads made it difficult to see who would come out on top.

Although losing to the defending state champions in the 3A state semifinal may seem identical to last year, it was far from it. This tournament felt different for Silver Lake (23-2).

Last year’s youthful starting five brought a battle-tested veteran-led group to this tournament run.

The moment wasn’t too big, and the lights weren’t too bright for a Silver Lake team that has been to the 3A state tournament three years in a row. Participating in the tournament is an annual tradition for the sophomores and juniors.

Three Eagle players were able to hit double-digit scoring in the loss. Senior Taylor Ross had a game-high 15 points, junior Kaibryn Kruger had 13 points, and Makenzie McDaniel finished the night with 10 points despite only playing 19 minutes.

Goodland (25-0) made the free throws with minimal time remaining and kept Silver Lake from hitting a 3-point buzzer-beater which would have sent the game into overtime. However, the Eagles were an eyelash away from another chance to dethrone the defending 3A state champions.

“Goodland is a really good team, and you have to play your best to beat them,” Silver Lake coach Kyle Porter said. “Both teams were in foul trouble in the first half, and I felt like we played well through it. It’s a challenging loss. I hurt for our seniors, and they played their hearts out. Goodland was the better team tonight.

“In games like this, sometimes the shots fall, and sometimes they don’t. But I never once questioned this team’s effort and attitude throughout the entire year. I’m proud of how they competed for Silver Lake.”

One of the main reasons the Cowgirls took down Silver Lake in back-to-back years was 6-foot senior guard Talexa Weeter. The Fort Hays State basketball commit collected 32 points off of 10-of-15 shooting as well as going six-of-eight from the 3-point line.

“It’s just amazing,” Weeter said. “I wanted nothing more than for us to win, and I knew if we were going to win, we would have to do it together. It’s just hard work, and we never stop doing that. We just kept grinding, and that’s what helped us win.”

Goodland had the advantage immediately, jumping out in front with a 6-1 run. Silver Lake and Goodland went back and forth for the remainder of the first quarter, with Goodland holding a 14-13 lead.

Weeter had 13 of Goodland’s 14 total points. Weeter was the most formidable player to guard on the court, similar to last season’s contest.

Goodland slammed its foot on the gas pedal right when the second quarter kicked off. The Cowgirls stunned Silver Lake with a 6-0 run in just 55 seconds, forcing Porter to take a timeout.

Out of the Eagle timeout, freshman role player Kailyn Hanni stole the show. In a 2:28 span, Hanni racked up two blocks, a steal forcing her way to the paint for a bucket while breaking some ankles along the way.

Significant stars for both teams had to sit out for the remaining three minutes of play in the second quarter. Weeter and Silver Lake’s Makenzie McDaniel each picked up three fouls.

Goodland would hold a 28-23 lead at the halftime break.

K. Kruger opened the third quarter with two straight 3-pointers in 59 seconds giving Silver Lake a 29-28 lead with 7:01 to play. However, Weeter answered back with a 13-point quarter, giving Goodland a 39-35 advantage going into the final quarter.

“After halftime, I had to play smarter defense with my foul trouble,” Weeter said. “Sometimes I overthink on defense and offense. In the third, what worked for me was just to catch it and shoot it. I made it easier for myself. That’s what I did, and it worked.”

The Cowgirls and Eagles would trade buckets back and forth in the fourth quarter. However, Silver Lake would gain late momentum off of a McKinley Kruger 3-point conversion. Silver Lake would regain the lead sitting at 45-44 with 2:32 to play.

Whenever Silver Lake would gain a basket, Goodland would find one right back. Ross and McDaniel powered their way inside the paint for points, but Weeter collected her own on the other side.

With 25.7 seconds to go, Ross gave Silver Lake a chance with a shot underneath the bucket decreasing Silver Lake’s deficit to 53-51.

The Eagles would foul Weeter, and the senior made one of two at the line giving Silver Lake 11.2 seconds to tie the game up 54-54 to send it into overtime.

Silver Lake would miss two 3-point conversions, and Goodland would survive 54-51 to advance to the 3A state championship game.

Silver Lake (23-2) will play Phillipsburg (24-1) in the 3A third-place game on Saturday at 12:00 p.m.

“I’m really proud of our girls,” Porter said. “I’m proud of their effort and competitive desire. It is special that we get a chance to send our seniors out tomorrow with a win. After we process this loss, that will be our focus.”


Silver Lake 13 10 12 16 – 51

Goodland   14 14 11 15 – 54

Goodland (25-0) – Ha. Biermann 0-5 0-0 0, Mitchek 3-9 0-0 7, Weeter 10-15 6-9 31, Cure 2-7 1-2 5, Lehman 0-3 1-2 1, Ho. Biermann 1-1 0-0 2, Horniek 0-1 0-0 0, Blochlinger 1-3 1-2 3, Owens 2-7 0-0 4. Totals – 19-51 9-15 54.

Silver Lake (23-2) – Farmer 1-5 0-3 3, McDaniel 4-7 2-4 10, K. Kruger 3-11 4-6 13, M. Kruger 2-7 0-0 6, Ross 7-11 1-2 15, Deiter 0-1 0-0 0, Hanni 1-7 2-2 4, Wehrli 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 18-49 9-17 51.

3-point goals – Goodland 7-13 (Weeter 6, Mitchek), Silver Lake 6 (K. Kruger 3, M. Kruger 2, Farmer). Total fouls – Goodland 17, Silver Lake 17. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none. Rebounds – Goodland 38, Silver Lake 32. Offensive rebounds – Goodland 13, Silver Lake 11. Turnovers – Goodland 15, Silver Lake 11.


No. 4 Cheney was considered the underdog in its 3A semifinal matchup against No. 1 Phillipsburg. However, Cheney thrived under high pressure and topped previously-undefeated Phillipsburg, 58-49.

Despite a 31-point performance from Phillipsburg guard and Kansas State commit Taryn Sides, Cheney held the rest of the Panther squad to a combined 18 points.

Cheney had three double-digit scorers in the 3A semifinal win. Senior Leah Durr scored a team-high 16 points, senior Campbell Hague had 13 and junior Reagan Ayers added 12. Hague recorded a double-double, pulling down 13 rebounds. 

“That’s the thing about our team; we don’t have just one girl,” Cheney coach Sarah McCormick said. “There’s been multiple games where we have a different leading scorer every single time. That’s where I feel like teams can go really far; they don’t have just one or two players, and everyone is capable of scoring. And tonight it was Leah (Durr).”

The Phillipsburg Panthers pounced on Cheney immediately. The first quarter couldn’t have been better for Phillipsburg on both sides of the ball in a 17-5 run.

Offensively, the Panthers efficiently shot the ball 40 percent (six of 15) from the field and went a smooth 80 percent (five of six) from the charity stripe.

Defensively in the opening quarter, Phillipsburg kept Cheney quiet from the field, shooting a rough 14.3 percent (two of 14). Cheney turned the ball over seven times with nearly all of those free possessions for Phillipsburg, resulting in points.

“We knew this was coming; we’ve got to wipe it off,” McCormick said. “If we allow this to go on, we will get into a deeper hole. So every possession has to be very valuable.”

McCormick’s message echoed throughout the squad.

“Honestly, I wasn’t feeling great; I felt a little sick to my stomach,” Durr said. “Coach pulled us aside and told us we could do this. That was all of the affirmation I needed.”

Sides had a 10-point quarter, easily in charge of the Panther’s offensive production.

With Cheney already battling in a 12-point deficit, they needed to play desperate, which they did. As a result, the Cardinals looked like a brand-new team in the second quarter.

After trailing by 12 points to end the opening quarter, Cheney went on a roll and brought the game within a bucket. Cheney would outscore Phillipsburg 21-14 in the quarter and were within five points going into the halftime break.

“Honestly, having all of this competition (this year) has been a huge advantage for us,” Durr said. “It prepares us so much for going at it in these hard games; being in big game environments has definitely been a big advantage for us.”

After trailing the entire contest, Cheney got its first lead of the game at the 4:46 mark of the third quarter. The Cardinals got the lead and did everything in its power not to look back. After Cheney had its rough opening quarter, where they trailed 17-5, but they repaid the favor with a 17-6 run of their own in the third quarter, shocking Phillipsburg.

Despite several chances to get back within striking distance, Phillipsburg couldn’t get back on track, with Cheney riding a monstrous amount of momentum. In addition, Phillipsburg had a difficult time shooting against Cheney’s post players, which played a big part in the victory.

“It’s no secret; it’s our bigs,” McCormick said. “It’s no secret with our bigs; they’ve done so much for us. I’d have to say the next game; we will have to take better care of the ball.

Cheney advanced to the 3A state championship after its 58-49 win over the Panthers. Cheney (23-2) will play Goodland (25-0) and will try to knock off two undefeated teams in back-to-back days.

“We need to stay excited, sleep well and have a good breakfast,” Durr said.


Cheney         5 21 17 15 – 58

Phillipsburg 17 14 6 12 – 49

Phillipsburg (24-1) – Keeten 0-1 0-0 0, Gross 0-5 2-2 2, Sides 9-25 11-12 31, Jacobs 0-2 1-3 1, Schemper 5-17 3-5 13, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Billings 1-2 0-1 2, Dierking 0-0 0-1 0, Means 0-1 0-2 0. Totals – 15-53 17-26 49.

Cheney (23-2) – Bartlett 3-6 2-3 8, Martin 2-6 0-2 4, Hague 2-13 9-12 13, Ayers 3-7 4-5 12, Durr 6-10 4-5 16, Black 1-8 3-6 5, McCormick 0-0 0-0 0, Inslee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 17-50 22-33 58.

3-point goals – Cheney 2-6 (Ayers 2), Phillipsburg 2-11 (Sides 2). Total fouls – Cheney 23, Phillipsburg 23. Total rebounds – Cheney 44, Phillipsburg 36. Offensive rebounds – Cheney 15, Phillipsburg 13. Turnovers – Cheney 17, Phillipsburg 15. Blocks – Cheney 7, Phillipsburg 0. Fouled out – Cheney: Durr, Martin. Technical fouls – none.