St. Thomas Aquinas too much for Lansing in 5A girls basketball state tournament semifinal

Dylan Sherwood
Salina Journal
St. Thomas Aquinas' Madison Skelton (32) looks for an open teammate while being defended by Lansing's Caitlin Bishop (11) during Thursday's Class 5A semifinal at White Auditorium in Emporia.

EMPORIA — KC Simmons knew St. Thomas Aquinas was going to be a tough out in the Class 5A state tournament. 

Lansing's girls had an opportunity to try and dethrone the four-time defending state champions Thursday night in the 5A semifinals at White Auditorium. However, the Saints were too much in a 64-44 victory over the Lions.

Aquinas will now face Andover Central for the Class 5A state championship at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

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"They're really good, but I couldn't be more proud of our kids," said Simmons, whose Lions finish third in Class 5A with a 19-4 record. "Just the fight they showed at the end, diving for loose balls and trying to give everything they can. I've never been more proud of a team.

"We had an amazing season and regardless of tonight's game, they can't take the rest of the season from us."

Lansing had never won a state tournament game until its win over Bonner Springs on Tuesday. 

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After falling down 2-0, Aquinas basketball found its rhythm

A 13-0 run by Aquinas after Lansing grabbed a 2-0 advantage set the tone for the Saints. The Saints got up as many as six before the Lions pulled within four, but that was closest they got the rest of the way.

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Aquinas led 30-16 at halftime and led by as many as 32 before Lansing made the margin 20 in the final seconds.

"We kind of got in a rhythm there a little bit a later, but probably too little too late to find our rhythm," Simmons said. 

Lansing's Kamryn Farris (10) looks for an opening while being guarded by St. Thomas Aquinas' Charlotte OKeefe during Thursday's Class 5A semifinal at White Auditorium in Emporia.

Lansing girls' coach: 'It's just another building block for our program"

Lansing had two players score in double-figures led by Kamryn Farris' 14 points and Skylar Weaver added 12.

Beatrice Culliton led Aquinas with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Charlotte O'Keefe added 12. 

Lansing loses two seniors — Cassidy Woods and MacKenzie Krause — with several key pieces back for the 2021-22 season.

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"I hope those kids that are not graduating kind of learn from this," Simmons said. "This is the farthest we've ever been, so it's just another building block for our program. They just can't take away that we're the best Lansing girls basketball team ever, regardless of this game.

"We've always have our hat to hang on that. Super, super proud of the girls. I can't say enough good things about them and their fight. Just the whole season, they're just great kids to be around." 

Lansing's Kamryn Farris (10) puts up a shot against St. Thomas Aquinas' Tatum Graves (14) during Thursday's Class 5A semifinal at White Auditorium in Emporia.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 64, LANSING 44

LANSING (19-4)

Moburg 2-16 0-0 6, Farris 3-8 8-12 14, Bishop 2-8 0-0 6, Manthe 3-5 1-2 7, Weaver 4-9 0-0 11, Woods 0-0 0-0. Totals 14-47 9-14 44. 

ST THOMAS AQUINAS (19-2)

Goodwin 2-4 1-2 5, McPherson 4-6 0-2 9, C. O’Keefe 6-9 0-2 12, Skelton 3-5 0-0 9, Culliton 7-11 0-0 14, Hoyt 0-2 0-0 0, L. O’Keefe 0-0 0-0 0, Schenck 3-4 0-0 6, Grimes 4-7 0-0 9, Budetti 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-50 1-6 65.

Lansing;2;14;8;20;—;44

St. Thomas Aquinas;11;19;26;8;—;64

3-point goals—Lansing 7-23 (Moburg 2-11, Bishop 2-7, Weaver 3-5), Aquinas 5-13 (Goodwin 0-2, McPherson 1-2, Skelton 3-5, Grimes 1-2, Budetti 0-2). Fouled out—Lansing:Weaver. Rebounds—Lansing 24 (Manthe 12), Aquinas 37 (Culliton 11). Turnovers—Lansing 9, Aquinas 9. Total fouls—Lansing 7, Aquinas 13.