Mario McKinney

Vashon’s Mario McKinney (4) drives to the basket as Trinity’s Marcus Washington(2) defends during their Saturday, March 2, 2019 Class 3 quarterfinal game at Normandy High School. The Wolverines of Vashon went on to defeat the Titans of Trinity 70-53. Vashon (23-5) advances to the state semifinals where they will play Charleston (20-10) at 3:30 p.m., Thursday at JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University.

The Vashon Wolverines will be spending the weekend in a familiar place, which would be the Final Four of the state tournament.

The Wolverines are headed to Springfield to participate in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3 state tournament, which will be held at the JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University. Vashon will be making its 21st appearance in the state tournament.

Vashon (24-5) will take on Charleston (20-10) in the first semifinal game, which will tip off this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The next semifinal game will pit Springfield Catholic (28-3) vs. St. Paul Lutheran (27-10). The winners will play for the state championship on Friday at 2:40 p.m. The losing teams will play for third place on Friday at 11 a.m.

It will be the third Final Four appearance for the Wolverines in the past four years. Vashon won back-to-back Class 4 state championships in 2016 and 2017. Their bid for a three-peat was stopped in the sectional playoffs by St. Mary’s last season. Vashon dropped down to Class 3 this season and has been impressive in the postseason against some formidable competition.

The Wolverines defeated a strong Cardinal Ritter team 85-62 in the District 7 championship game. After defeating Hancock in the state sectionals, Vashon took apart Trinity 70-53 in last weekend’s state quarterfinals at Normandy High. Vashon entered the game as the No. 1 team in the state while Trinity was ranked No. 3. The Wolverines scored the game’s first nine points and were never threatened.

Vashon has one of the state’s most talented teams, regardless of class, and it played a national schedule against some of the top programs in the country. They are led by 6’2” senior guard Mario McKinney, who is headed to the University of Missouri next season. McKinney is a dynamic athlete who can excite the crowd at any time.

The junior trio of 6’7” forward Cam’Ron Fletcher, 6’0” guard Phillip Russell and 6’6” guard Kobe Clark are all excellent players who are being recruited by NCAA Division I schools. The fifth starter is 6’2” senior guard Donyae McCaskill, who has already signed with Portland. The Wolverines also have plenty of quality depth, including 6’2” senior guard Chanze Carusoe, 5’8” sophomore Recko Bailey, 6’5” senior Cyrus Alexander and 6’5” sophomore Nicholas Kern.

Lutheran North girls are headed to Final Four

The Lutheran North girls will also be making the trip to the Final Four for the second time in three years. The Crusaders punched their ticket to Springfield with a 51-41 victory over Whitfield in the state quarterfinals at Normandy.

Lutheran North (25-6) will meet Licking (26-4) in the Class 3 state semifinals tonight at 6:50 p.m. Strafford (31-0) will take on Trenton (26-0) in the other semifinal game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winners will meet for the state championship on Friday at 4:30 p.m. while the two losing teams will play for third place on Friday at 12:30 p.m.

The Crusaders feature an experienced group of players, led by 5’9” senior guard Madison Buford, who is averaging 15.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. Senior forward Kaylynn Hayden is averaging 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while senior guard Jordyn White averages 6.8 points while playing shut-down defense against the opposing team’s top player. This senior trio all surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in their careers this season.

Senior forward Amaya Earls is a solid role player who shoots 38 percent from 3-point range while 5’10” sophomore Taleah Dilworth is a talented young guard who averages 6.5 points a game. Senior point guard Raevyn Ferguson and sophomore MaKayla Williams provide excellent minutes off the bench for Crusaders.

Class 4 and 5 Quarterfinals are this weekend

Final Four berths will be on the line for the large schools in Missouri as the winners from Wednesday night sectional games will compete in state quarterfinal games in the state. The Class 5 quarterfinals involving area teams will be held on Saturday at Lindenwood University with boys games at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. The girls’ quarterfinals games will be held at 2:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

Class 4 boys state quarterfinal games will be held on Saturday at Jefferson College in Hillsboro and Francis Howell Central at 1 p.m. The girls’ games will be held at Jefferson College and Francis Howell Central at 2:45 p.m.

The winners will advance to the Final Four in Springfield the weekend of March 15-16.

St. Louis American Sports Director

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