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Doniphan West Girls Defeat Quinter, Bring Home First State Title in School History
By Jake W. Spalding
Copyright: MSC Sports

Dodge City, Kansas

The Doniphan West Lady Mustangs are State Champions at the 1A Divison I state tournament in 2023. 

It didn't come easy for the 5th seed out of the Twin Valley League, as they drew Central Plains in the first round. The Oilers were only the 8-time defending state champion, and the Mustangs rolled 60-40. Next up in the semi-finals, they had the task of facing top seed Norwich, and they took care of business by knocking off the Eagles 52-38. Now in the state title game, a tall task against the Quinter Bulldogs, led by 6'2 Senior Anna Briggs, but D-West would not be denied what was destined for them this year, as they won 55-49 to bring home the school's first state title.

In the first, the Mustangs stuck to the game plan, forcing 10 first quarter turnovers and getting eight points off those turnovers. a quarter where Senior Avery Weathersbee paced the was for the 'Stangs with 7 points and fellow Senior Kyra Johnson right behind her with six. Doniphan West led by a count of 18-15 at the end of one. 

In the second, both teams settled in with just eleven points for both teams fell to get us to halftime 29-26. In the quarter, Quinter's Briggs picked up her third personal foul with :30 left in the half, which would aid the Mustangs in the second half. Johnson and Weathersbee continued to pace D-West each having ten points in the first half, while the Mustangs had just six turnovers at the break while forcing 13 against the Bulldogs.

The third quarter saw Briggs come out to start the quarter, but she would pick up her fourth foul early and D-West would begin to do what they do best. RUN. The Mustangs would double up the Bulldogs in the frame 16-8 led by and explosive Johnson who had eight of the sixteen. Seven points off of four Bulldog turnovers in the frame aided Doniphan West and the tempo, and style of game was in the favor of Coach Perry Smith's team. They led, 45-34, with the lead growing to as many as 16 in the quarter, as we moved on to the final quarter.

In the final period, Quinter pushed the issue and got the game within a single basket. Led by Sophomore Brynn Gillispe, who scored seven points in the final frame. However it was the Mustangs, who do what they do best, and they locked in on the defensive side. Multiple times down the stretch when it seemed that Quinter would get the game back to a single possession, or even tied, the defensive stepped up. Three huge one-and-done possesions for Quinter with Sophomore Katie Johnson for D-West rebounding the basketball and not allowing a second chance opportunity for the Bulldogs. It was in the hands of Kyra Johnson in the final minute. Standing at the free throw line.

Just a four point lead for the Mustangs, and Johnson nailed two huge chairity tosses to extend the lead up to six. Another possession where Quinter couldn't buy a basket, Kyra Johnson was fouled and had a chance to put the game away. She did just that by splashing home two more free throws to extend the lead to eight with just :15 seconds left. Quinter would get a quick bucket, but with no timeouts left, the Mustangs were able to dribble the clock out to claim their first ever state title 55-49.

The three seniors, Johnson alongisde Claire Cole and Weathersbee, willed their team to win. When things even looked eery, there was a smile on their faces and an encouraging clap of the hands. Cole finished with eight points and three assists in the game. Weathersbee with 12 points and eight boards, while Johnson finished her career with a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Brennah Edie chipped in seven points and four boards and Katie Johnson finished with six points and six rebounds. Junior Malaina Whetstine was held scoreless, but had eight rebounds, four assists and one block. Whetstine with phenomenal hustle throughout, breaking the press almost every time Quinter threw it at her. Junior Lena Leatherman saw her role increase as well, and played huge minutes when foule trouble plauged Edie.

And then there's coaches Perry Smith, Dallas Keller and Jim Leatherman. Three men that put in the time on and off the floor to prepare this team of destiny. All the hours of film to prepare them, the words of encouragement when things weren't going well, and the high fives when things were going right. Hats off to this group of coaches, and all invovled in this huge run by the Mustangs.

An orange banner is what was dreamt of, sought after, and now has been accomplished for the Doniphan West Mustang girls program. It will be hung with pride for all involed in the Mustang community to cherish for the rest of history. Congratulations to the Doniphan West Mustang community, school and team for the amazing feat. "Hero's get remembered, but legends never die." This is a legendary run for this team, and it will always a part of the community sporting the orange and blue.

©2024 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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