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Aquinas

Aquinas' Breanna Stouffer (right) defends Columbus Scotus' Abbie Zoucha in a gamer earlier this season.

Like the games themselves, basketball seasons are full of runs.

The Aquinas girls basketball team was reminded of that during the final week of the regular season.

The Class C-1 No. 8 Monarchs trailed Class C-2-rated Centennial by nine going into the final quarter of a game that featured some runs. Aquinas responded with a big fourth quarter to win 43-41.

"When two good teams play each other, it's always a good game of runs," Aquinas coach Tony Smith said. "We just want to have a longer one than the last one, and that's kind of how the season goes, too. We want to have the longer run and the last run."

Aquinas, which has played a tough schedule, looks to begin that run this week, and it will be an uphill run at that.

No. 1 Wahoo, No. 2 Bishop Neumann and No. 8 Aquinas are all in the same subdistrict, forming the toughest grouping in Class C-1.

"We're a 16-win team," Smith said. "I'm not sure that there's any 16-win teams that are the three seed."

Aquinas (16-5) will meet Neumann (17-3) in Tuesday's semifinal in Schuyler. It's a rematch of a Dec. 11 game won by Neumann, 45-38.

That was two months ago. At the time, Neumann was working in three new starters. Smith said Aquinas, which has 10 seniors, has made gains, too.

"I do think since we're so experienced that we maybe haven't grown as much as maybe some other teams that are playing younger girls who are starting to come into their own now," said Smith, who is in his first season as head coach at Aquinas. "I do realize that and understand that, but our girls have grown in a sense that they really trust each other and they trust me right now. We've just grown in our trust, and so that's kind of shining different abilities that are coming out on the floor now."

A veteran presence played a big part in the Monarchs getting back on the winning track.

After losing at Class D-2 No. 1 Humphrey St. Francis last Tuesday, Smith admitted he was a little worried about how the team would respond in practice.

"But we actually had two of our best practices, and I would say most enjoyable practices the next two days in getting ready for Centennial," Smith added. "I'm kind of a high-energetic guy, but they were the ones that had smiles on their faces and were talking more than I was, and it was kind of fun to watch."

A big win at Centennial followed.

"They've been together for a long time and they're excited for this," Smith said. "They know it's close to being over, but they want to keep it going as long as they possibly can."

Aquinas, Neumann and Wahoo are a combined 54-8 this season. Only one team will come out of the subdistrict with the top hardware, but a new postseason format guarantees a better chance for all three to play for three state berths.

Classes C and D adopted the Class B postseason model prior to the 2018-19 season. The 12 subdistrict champions (It's eight in Class B) will automatically advance to the Feb. 21 district finals. The highest remaining teams in the wild-card standings -- four of them -- also will advance to form eight district finals, which are seeded based on wild-card points.

Wahoo is currently second in wild-card points. Neumann is third and Aquinas is ninth, so it's possible for all three to advance past subdistrict play. But anything is possible.

"We definitely don't want to rely on that," Smith said. "We want to go out and play our best and play together."

If Aquinas suffers a loss this week, "we would probably have been the odd one out in the old system for sure, not that we're in right now by any means," Smith added.

Girls subdistrict play in Class B, C and D begins Monday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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