Class 1A Division II girls quarterfinals: Beloit-St. John’s fends off Central Christian

By Rick Peterson Jr. – KSHSAA Covered

GREAT BEND – Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton kept a lead for most of Wednesday’s Class 1A Division II quarterfinal but couldn’t quite break away from a pesky Hutchinson-Central Christian squad.

However, the Blujays were able to clamp down every time Central Christian threatened to go on a run, fending off the Cougars for a 45-40 victory at Barton Community College.

After trailing by nine with five minutes remaining, Central Christian cut the deficit to three with 1:45 left on a 3-pointer from Kaylee Kauffman. The Blujays (21-4) then came up with key stops in the last minute and change to secure their spot in Friday’s 2 p.m. semifinal against unbeaten Hanover.

“Defensively I thought we played really, really good,” St. John’s coach Leah Bergmann said. “They had a couple runs where they scored a couple in a row, but for the most part we were able to shut it down and get back to the way we needed to play.”

Central Christian was within four with under six minutes left but Katie Brummer answered a Cougar bucket with one of the biggest shots of the game, burying a corner 3 to give the Blujays some breathing room.

Bergmann said the Blujays’ balanced offensive attack pays dividends when they need a big bucket.

“It makes us so hard to guard because you can’t just hone in on one person and say you have to shut her down,” she said. “We have five girls that are capable of hitting those kind of shots. Katie’s one of those that can hit those shots, and it was huge for us.”

After Kauffman’s trey made it a 3-point game, St. John’s missed two free throws to keep it a one-possession game, but Central Christian missed a potential game-tying 3 with 1:11 left. Carlie Brummer then hit a free throw with 48 seconds left to make it two-possession game, and the Cougars turned it over on the next possession to put the Blujays in firm control.

Carlie Brummer led St. Johns with 13 while Ella Wiles had 10.

Kauffman finished with 19 but the Blujays made the senior guard work for it, limiting her to 5 of 14 from the field.

“Kauffman is a great player,” Bergmann said. “She’s a great shooter. She’s good at finding space and creating shots. Our game plan was to limit her easy baskets, to find her in transition early so that she couldn’t score in transition, and then limit everybody else.”

Central Christian went 3 of 19 from 3-point range.

“They didn’t have very many easy shots,” Bergmann said. “They were having to shoot with a hand in their face or someone close. That pays off. It wears on you into the fourth quarter.”

The Blujays, making their third straight state appearance, have won 17 straight games after starting the season 4-4.

“I’m super excited,” Bergmann said of the Blujays reaching the semis. “They made it to state in volleyball and that’s a testament to how athletic these girls are. Give them a ball and put them in a sport and they’re going to go and excel and compete.”

Bergmann said the Blujays will welcome the challenge against undefeated Hanover.

“That’s what you want to see when you’re at state,” she said. “You want to play the best teams in the state and Hanover’s obviously one of those, with a perfect record. We’re going to come in with a game plan and play our ball and let the cards fall where they do.”

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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