By CONOR NICHOLL
Pittsburg St. Mary’s Colgan showcased its highly impressive depth in multiple recent resume-building wins against CNC foes Galena, Frontenac and Girard. In several ways, the victories were milestone victories for the Panthers, an experienced group and defending Class 2A state runner-up. Colgan is a combined 4-0 against those squads, including three massive first quarters that have led to victories.
Last winter, Colgan won the first state games in school history, including a semifinal victory when Lily Brown hit a game-winning shot. The Panthers went 20-4 and lost to Sterling in the 2A championship game.
Coach Abby Farabi, in her 11th season, shared SIK 2A Coach of the Year honors with Sterling’s Jill Rowland. This winter, the Panthers brought back 6-foot-2 junior Lauren Torrance, sophomore Lily Brown, and senior point guard Lauren Yaghmour. All three earned some form of all-state honors last winter.
Those three, Gabi Radell and Emily Imhof are starters. Key subs are Ava Glover, Anna Westhoff and Polona Kalan. Yaghmour is a three-year starter after being a key reserve her freshman year. The ball is in her hands 90 percent of the time, and she plays 32 minutes a game. Her assist to turnover is 5-1.5, among the state’s best.
“She makes us go for sure,” Farabi said.
Colgan was never ranked by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association last winter. This season, the Panthers opened second in 2A behind Sterling. Colgan is currently third with Sterling first and Valley Heights second. The Panthers (11-0) are a legit state contender and have a goal to win its first-ever girls’ basketball state title. Colgan girls have won back-to-back golf and softball crowns.
After an undefeated December, the Panthers won at Galena, 65-26, on Jan. 11. Galena has standout Mia Sarwinski, one of Kansas’ most well-known players. Colgan had a plus 20-point lead in the first quarter. Eleven days later, Colgan beat Galena, 39-26, in the championship of the Tony Dubray Classic in Liberal (Mo.).
Colgan finished 2-1 versus Galena last season, and 0-3 the year prior. It marked the most points by Colgan against Galena since Feb. 5, 2008 and the biggest margin of victory in at least 30 meetings. Galena is 6-6 this winter.
On Tuesday, Colgan held off Frontenac, 44-40, in a contest the Panthers led 13-1 with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first quarter. The Panthers had lost four in a row against Frontenac dating back to a 42-34 victory on Jan. 22, 2019. Before then, Colgan was 3-8 in its last 11 versus Frontenac. The Raiders are a back-to-back state final four team.
Frontenac opened 0-of-6 from the field. Colgan received contributions from across the board in the big start versus the Raiders.
First, Brown opened with two made free throws. Then, Yaghmour found Imhof for a 3-pointer and Torrance for a basket. Brown scored off an offensive rebound for a 9-1 lead. Radell followed up with an assist for Torrance.
Yaghmour drove in for a 13-1 advantage. After Frontenac hit a trey, Colgan immediately responded with a 3 from Radell off a Yaghmour assist, her third of the quarter, per SIK statistics and film reviewal.
Frontenac made a big run, though Colgan came up with multiple big plays. Torrance, a first team all-state top-5 selection last winter, is an excellent passer. Colgan had its first basket in the fourth quarter off a great lob from Torrance to Brown. Torrance was beyond the 3-point line on the right side of the top of the key.
Torrance lobbed it over a defender to Brown, who reversed and scored a guarded left-handed layup with an impressive play. Colgan led 38-36 with 3:23 left when Yaghmour inbounded the ball to Brown, who drew a foul and made a foul shot.
In the final 2:19, Colgan did not turn the ball over. Yaghmour sank two free throws for a 41-36 advantage. Overall, the Panthers went 5 of 9 on four shots down the stretch. Frontenac never got closer than two. When the buzzer sounded, Farabi came out to midcourt to celebrate with her team.
Entering Friday, Brown averaged 19.2 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. Torrance is at 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds a contest. Yaghmour led the team in plus-minus at plus-32.5. Brown is highly efficient with 63 percent shooting and turnovers on just eight percent of possessions. Imhof is shooting 40 percent from the field. Yaghmour has five assists a game and has an excellent 3.36/1 assist to turnover ratio.
Then, Colgan outscored Girard, 22-0, in the first quarter on Friday, led 51-20 end of the third quarter and won 61-27 for a highly impressive victory. Girard is 9-2. Colgan won its fourth straight versus Girard and improved to 6-11 in the last 17 meetings in the series. It easily marked the biggest margin of victory for Colgan over Girard since before 2007.