Last weekend’s Missouri State High School Activities Association state championships in Springfield was a showcase for some of the St. Louis area’s leading basketball dynasties.
The boy’s programs at Vashon and Cardinal Ritter and the girl’s from Incarnate Word Academy (IWA) did not disappoint as they added more championship hardware to their already crowded trophy cases back at their respective schools.
Vashon won the Class 4 state championship, which is the 12th in the school’s history. Cardinal Ritter won the Class 5 state title to make it No. 9 for its program, while Incarnate Word won the Class 6 state championship, which makes it 11 titles for the Red Knights.
It was another successful season by Vashon, which was sparked by its tremendous defensive effort from the start to finish of every game. I’ve seen many great Vashon teams over the years, but from a defensive standpoint, this may have been one of the best I’ve seen in terms of putting out an extreme effort in guarding people for a full 32-minutes. Those kids really put their heart and soul into every defensive possession.
For Cardinal Ritter, the Lions became the “Comeback Kids” of the postseason as they rallied from double-digit deficits three different times during their championship run. The first came against a talented University City in the district championship game and the next one came against DeSmet in the state quarterfinals. Both of those games were on the road. The Lions saved their best for last in the semifinals when they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the last six minutes of regulation to defeat Van Horn in double overtime.
As for Incarnate Word, it was business as usual as the Red Knights dominated the competition to roll to another state championship. This was IWA’s first title at Class 6 after being moved up from Class 4 due to the success multiplier formula. The Red Knights defeated Staley and Webster Groves in convincing fashion to bring home another state championship.
Whitfield Girls win first title
The Whitfield girls have been in the hunt for a state championship for the past five years as they have made three Final Four appearances during that span. The fourth time proved to be the charm for the Warriors last weekend as they defeated William Chrisman and West Plains to win the Class 5 state title, the first for the program.
The Warriors will continue to be a statewide factor for years to come with the young talent on the roster, but this year’s championship was a fitting send-off for stellar senior point guard Kelsey Blakemore. The 5’9” Blakemore has been a tremendous player and leader as a four-year varsity starter at Whitfield. She got a taste of the Final Four as a freshman and evolved into the leader of this young team. She led the Warriors in scoring while also rebounding, facilitating and making her teammates better. As Blakemore graduates and moves on to the collegiate level, the program now belongs to some stellar young players in sophomores Brooklyn Rhodes, Tkiyah Nelson, Trezure Jackson and freshman JaNyla Bush.
Congratulations to Final Four Teams
Several other schools from the St. Louis metro area also competed in last weekend’s Final Four. Congratulations also go out to:
Webster Groves’ girls who finished second in the Class 6 state tournament. The Stateswomen pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend with an upset of state powerhouse Springfield Kickapoo in the semifinals.
Vashon’s girls finished third in the Class 4 state tournament in their first ever Final Four appearance.
The Westminster Christian boys finished as runners-up in the Class 4 state tournament after playing Vashon a very competitive game in the state championship game.
Chaminade College Prep finished third in the Class 6 state tournament behind a big effort from 6’10” junior forward Tarris Reed, Jr., who averaged 28 points a game.
Fort Zumwalt North finished fourth in the Class 6 tournament in the school’s first ever Final Four appearance.
Lutheran South’s boys finished fourth in the Class 5 state tournament after making an excellent postseason run.
Union’s girls finished third in the Class 5 state tournament behind the play of stellar senior point guard Reagan Rapert.