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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • From the stands: Final observations from LVCO title teams

  • It's been three weeks since our communities had two teams bring home 5A state basketball championship titles, the Leavenworth High School Lady Pioneers and the Lansing High School Lions.
    Although the teams combined to go 49-1, blowing out numerous opponents, it's never an easy road to win a state championship. It takes hard work, smart, team play and precise game plans and execution.
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  • It's been three weeks since our communities had two teams bring home 5A state basketball championship titles, the Leavenworth High School Lady Pioneers and the Lansing High School Lions.
    Although the teams combined to go 49-1, blowing out numerous opponents, it's never an easy road to win a state championship. It takes hard work, smart, team play and precise game plans and execution.
    It takes dedication from the conclusion of one season all the way to the conclusion of the next to do so.
    Both teams were knocked out of last season's state tournament, and it seemed no one was going to get in their way this season to the championship.
    Each team played close games sprinkled throughout, but every time I saw the Lady Pioneers and Lions take the floor against their respective opponents, there was no question who had the better team.
    Leavenworth had the best lockdown defenders and group of post players in the state.
    Even when teams gave inside players trouble, the Lady Pioneer guards were there picking up the slack.
    By contrast, Lansing wasn't the biggest team, but the Lions were incredibly athletic and smooth.
    The Lions could run up and down the floor and execute better than most teams did in the half court. There weren't frantic turnovers that turned into points for the opposition.
    The Lions used seniors Joe Lendway and Ben Johnson inside the paint, and their guards flipped it to them underneath the basket before the defense knew what hit them.
    There was simply no stopping the Lions offensively.
    Each guard could knock down shots from anywhere on the floor and could make smooth passes feeding the post.
    The Lions' defense wasn't always consistent, but it showed up in the biggest way when it mattered most — the state title game.
    It was a game that could have been a run-and-gun track meet, a high-scoring affair, but Lansing limited the big, athletic and high-powered Highland Park offense to 27 points.
    Lansing was outmatched in size, but it signed, sealed and delivered on the defensive end.
    The old cliche is cliche for a reason — defense does indeed win championships. Both of our title teams could, quite simply, clamp down.
    There was no one getting around sophomore Alicia Brown or freshman Terrion Moore for the Lady Pioneers. And, even if they did, there were 6-feet tall post players in juniors Tyler Johnson, Rachel Blackburn and Tashia Jones waiting to deny access to the bucket.
    Two teams had a dream to win a state title, and both put in the hard work and sacrifice to make that dream a reality.
    All of us in the community and in the stands were extremely fortunate to see these two teams compete at such a high level this season.
    Page 2 of 2 - Congrats once more to all the players and coaches.
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