The Incarnate Word Red Knights and Kirkwood Pioneers girls’ basketball teams experienced the joy of winning state championships last season.
Both IWA and Kirkwood are back in the Final Four again and looking for a repeat at this weekend’s Class 4 and 5 state championships in Springfield. The games will be held at the JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University.
Incarnate Word (25-5) will face Kearney (26-3) in the Class 4 semifinals on Friday at 4:15 p.m. Miller Career Academy (18-9) will take on Carl Junction (25-3) in the other semifinal game at 2:30 p.m. The winners will play for the state championship on Saturday at 6:20 p.m. The third place game will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Not only is Incarnate Word looking for a repeat state championship, it is also seeking its fifth state title in six years. The Red Knights are led by 5’8” senior guard Sonya Morris, who has signed with DePaul. Morris is averaging 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Junior point guard Marissa Warren is averaging 11.6 points and 4.8 assists while 6’3” junior Rickie Woltman is averaging 11.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Miller Career Academy advanced to the Final Four after victories over Gateway Tech and Dexter in the state playoffs. The Phoenix have a balanced offense led by 5’9” junior Daisha Seltzer, who is averaging 14 points a game. Senior guard Mauricea Mathis is averaging 10.4 points and five rebounds a game while senior guard Breyanna Howard is averaging 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Kirkwood (26-3) will face Liberty (22-7) in the Class 5 state semifinals on Thursday at 5:10 p.m. St. Joseph’s Academy (23-6) will take on Kickpaoo (27-3) in the other semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. The winners will play for the state championship on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. The third-place game will be held on Friday at 11 a.m.
The Pioneers will try for another state title behind its dynamic duo of 5’10” senior Jayla Everett and 5’9” senior Jaidah Stewart. Everett, a New Mexico signee, is averaging 17 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. Stewart, a Minnesota signee, is averaging 16.8 points and nearly six rebounds a game. Sophomore forward Natalie Bruns averages 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a game, while junior point guard Makayla Wallace averages 8.2 points and 3.1 assists.
St. Joseph’s is also back in the Final Four after finishing fourth in the state tournament a year ago. The Angels are led by 6’2” senior forward Alexandra Kerr, who is averaging 19.9 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. Kerr scored a career-high 46 points in the Angels’ victory over Hazelwood Central in the state quarterfinals last weekend.