Playoff Preview: The road to State for Webster basketball

Bennett Durando
Sports Columnist

It’s official: the playoffs are underway. After three months of basketball in Roberts Gym and across the state of Missouri, the Statesmen and Stateswomen are ready to begin their post-season pushes for a State title. Both teams have potential to make a deep run, but six games stand in their way between season-ending defeat and championship glory. Here is a look at the road to State for both teams.

Webster Statesmen

With Webster rolling into the playoffs at 23-2 and as the top-ranked team in Missouri, Statesmen fans have reason to believe this finally could be their year. If Webster wants a State championship though, first they’ll have to capture an elusive District title that they’ve fallen short of back-to-back years. Starting tomorrow night in the Lindbergh-hosted District 7, here’s what Webster’s path to the Sweet 16 looks like.

District Semifinal: Webster (23-2) vs. Mehlville (8-14)

Final: vs. Lindbergh (18-6) / Vianney (12-13)

Neither Lindbergh nor Vianney is a team to be overlooked. Lindbergh, along with hosting the potential clash, has had an impressive season led by senior forward Spencer Levi, playing CBC within seven points and winning at Ritenour by 15, where Webster escaped with only a two-point victory.

Vianney, contrary to its record, is always a force to be reckoned with, having already beaten Lindbergh by 13 this season and only losing by one in the other showdown between the teams. A Webster-Vianney game would be personal for them too, as junior national recruit Carte’Are Gordon left Vianney last year to become a Statesman.

If Webster conquers its past struggles in Districts, it would take two more wins to reach the Final Four at State. Regardless of who the team matches up with in the potential Sectional game, it will be a heavy favorite.

Sectional: vs. District 8 Champion: Troy Buchanan (10-11) / Jefferson City (9-13) / Holt (8-14) / Battle (8-12)

State Quarterfinal: vs. District 5 or 6 Champion (four most likely teams): Francis Howell (21-5) / Lafayette (14-11) / Parkway South (18-8) / CBC (17-9)

Even the least imposing of these potential quarterfinal opponents is dangerous. Webster trailed in the second half at Lafayette this season, squeaking away with a 61-57 victory after icing the game at the foul line in the final seconds. Parkway South and Francis Howell are both area teams that have flown under the radar. CBC, though not as dominant as the program is accustomed to being, has proven it can beat anyone in the state with an 82-73 win over Chaminade.

State Semifinal: vs. District 9, 10, 11 or 12 Champion (six most likely teams): Rock Bridge (17-4) / Kickapoo (21-4) / Nixa (23-3) / Republic (21-5) / Glendale (20-6) / Blue Springs (15-8)

The battle to be the best in the Springfield area is surprisingly competitive, with perennial powers Kickapoo and Nixa often considered two of the three best teams on the western half of the state, and with other tough opponents such as Glendale and Republic to keep them in check.

If the Statesmen are going to run into another St. Louis area power, it won’t be until the potential State final.

State Final: vs. District 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 15 or 16 Champion (six most likely teams): Chaminade (20-5) / SLUH (20-6) / Lee’s Summit West (17-2) / Park Hill South (18-6) / Park Hill (19-5) / Raytown (17-5)

Chaminade seems from an outside point of view like the most likely team to make it that far, but the defending champs have struggled as of late, losing four of their last eight after being the top-ranked team in Missouri for most of the season with a 16-1 start.

The Missouri Class 5 men's basketball State tournament bracket. Webster (23-2) starts the playoffs tomorrow night against Mehlville.

The Missouri Class 5 men’s basketball State tournament bracket. Webster (23-2) starts the playoffs tomorrow night against Mehlville. Blank spots in the first round spaces represent TBD teams.

The most fascinating district for the Statesmen other than their own is District 4, which includes both Chaminade and SLUH. SLUH took down Chaminade to raise eyebrows late in the regular season, but it’s their likely matchup in the District finals that will really send sparks flying. Regardless how it turns out, one of the two local and state private school powers will be eliminated early. Lee’s Summit West is vastly considered Kansas City’s best, though the nearby Park Hill schools are dangerous as well.

Anyone Webster faces off with from the quarterfinals on will be a challenge. The Statesmen have proven all year that they have the talent, and now at the very end of the regular season they’ve been rewarded for their consistency and resilience by being given Missouri’s number one ranking by both major polls for the first time.

MBCA Poll

  1. Webster Groves
  2. Kickapoo
  3. Lee’s Summit West
  4. SLUH
  5. Chaminade
  6. Nixa
  7. Rock Bridge
  8. Liberty
  9. Park Hill South
  10. Republic

MaxPreps Poll

  1. Webster Groves
  2. Lee’s Summit West
  3. Nixa
  4. Kickapoo
  5. Park Hill
  6. Chaminade
  7. Central
  8. Park Hill South
  9. Raytown
  10. Glendale
  11. SLUH
  12. Rock Bridge
  13. Republic
  14. Blue Springs
  15. Liberty

Now, whatever happens from here on out will be a product of the Statesmen’s experience. They’re winners of 17 straight, but it’s the next six that are season-defining.

Webster Stateswomen

Webster has a legitimate chance to repeat as District champions and more, despite underperforming compared to last year’s similar team.

The Stateswomen kick off the postseason in the District 7 semifinals tonight at Lindbergh at 5:30 p.m. The path to a District title looks like this:

Semifinal: Webster (15-11) vs. Lindbergh (9-15) / Mehlville (3-19)

Final: vs. Cor Jesu (12-13) / Oakville (14-9)

Cor Jesu, who poses the greatest threat to Webster, is the only team in the District the team has played. The Stateswomen won 53-43 in Roberts at the Webster Winter Challenge. The Stateswomen also defeated Cor Jesu in last year’s District championship at SLUH.

With a District title, Webster would move on the last 16 in the State for a sectional playoff bout against the District 8 champion on March 8.

Sectional: vs. District 8 Champion: Jefferson City (17-3) / Troy Buchanan (6-14) / Battle (10-13) / Holt (8-12)

Here is where Webster could run into its first huge bump in the road. Jefferson City has been one of the best in the state, and crushed the Stateswomen 59-36 earlier this year.

It would likely take the team a big upset to return to the State quarterfinals for a second straight year, but if it does make it that far, things would only get harder.

State Quarterfinal: vs. District 5 or 6 Champion (two most likely opponents): Kirkwood (22-3) / Washington (22-3)

This route to the Final Four is not fortunate; in the three districts surrounding Webster’s District 7, the three top seeds, Jefferson City, Kirkwood and Washington, are all among the top-four ranked teams in the state.

MBCA Poll

  1. Lee’s Summit North
  2. Kirkwood
  3. Washington
  4. Jefferson City
  5. Kickapoo
  6. Rock Bridge
  7. Hickman
  8. Lebanon
  9. Blue Springs South
  10. Jackson

MaxPreps Poll

  1. Lee’s Summit North
  2. Rock Bridge
  3. Jefferson City
  4. Kickapoo
  5. Lebanon
  6. Branson
  7. Hickman
  8. St. Joseph’s
  9. Blue Springs South
  10. Jackson

If the Stateswomen have all their pieces, they still can and will be dangerous. Recurring small injuries to junior standouts Jaidah Stewart and KK Rodriguez have held them back from their full potential; both stars’ presence and leadership will be necessary if Webster wants to make a deep run. With both of them present and healthy on senior night, the Stateswomen won by 21 with the pair combining for an unbelievable 58 points … Stewart scored 39 of those. Then, the pair led the Stateswomen in a near-upset at Kirkwood to end the regular season. With them healthy in the postseason, who knows how far Webster could go.


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