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Wichita Independent Girls Basketball – State Championship – Presented by Advanced Physical Therapy

The Wichita Independent girls were victorious, winning their first state championship over Riverside 58-39 in school history.

Coming into the season, former Southeast Buffalo point guard EJ Garnes knew that they had a very serious chance of making the state championship after their berth the year before. Now, the young head coach is a State Champion.

“To me, it’s just a testament to a great group of young girls that I have that trusted in me and my coaching staff,” Garnes said. “I’m so overwhelmed with joy for them and truly believe this is only the beginning for us.”

The road to get to the state championship wasn’t an easy one. The Panthers entered as the sixth seed with a 19-3 record and matched up with a very experienced Hillsboro team in the first round. The Panthers took care of business 39-36 and would go on to match up with the second-seeded and then undefeated St. Mary’s-Colgan team, defeating them 48-40.

The win set up the Panthers for a meeting with Riverside, who would not have enough for the Panthers to fall 58-39.

“We stuck together all season long,” Garnes said. “Our message has been to stick together. You face so much adversity throughout the season that it almost becomes easy to break apart, but we continue to stick together.”

Independent was led by freshman star Zoey Buckner-Franklin’s 16 points and seven assists. And lone senior Shephie Safi-Salumu’s 10 rebounds and six blocks.

For Garnes and Wichita Independent, with one of the youngest teams in the area, the team will 100 percent have a back-to-back championship in their view.

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