The Frontenac Raider girls have won 16 consecutive games since a 40-31 loss to Liberal (Mo.) on Dec. 13 and their 19-1 overall record in the regular season gives them the best record of any team in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League, the Southeast Kansas League and the Three Rivers League.

The Frontenac Raider girls have won 16 consecutive games since a 40-31 loss to Liberal (Mo.) on Dec. 13 and their 19-1 overall record in the regular season gives them the best record of any team in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League, the Southeast Kansas League and the Three Rivers League.

The Raiders have won their 16 straight games by an average of almost 26 points per game, with seven points their lowest victory margin twice.

The Raiders, undefeated CNC League champions at 7-0, are currently ranked No. 6 in Class 3A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association and No. 2 by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The Raiders are the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A substate hosted by Erie after the opening round games and draw a 2-18 Galena squad in the opening game on Tuesday, one more home game for the Raiders.

Superior depth plays into the favor of Frontenac almost every game.

Head coach Jeremy Rakes starts junior captain Jennifer Long, senior Meghan Winden, senior captain Taylor Seward, sophomore Bailey Flora and sophomore Ryleigh McCartney, then brings in junior captain Lindsey Gorham, junior Amanda Cicero, junior Libby Warrick, sophomore Natalie Coomes and sophomore Haley Wilson off the bench, seemingly never missing a beat.

“It’s unbelievable having girls on the bench that are going to give you the quality minutes and work ethic,” Rakes said after Frontenac defeated Baxter Springs 52-41 at home Tuesday to complete an undefeated CNC run. “It’s just unbelievable those girls can come out and play like they did off the bench and give us the spark that we need.”

Cicero led Frontenac with 15 points off the bench against Baxter Springs and her 13 first-half points helped cut a 25-11 lead in the second quarter to a 27-24 game at halftime. Long and Gorham made several key plays in the second half, offensively and defensively, that brought home a league title.

“We had to do something different because we were getting no rebounds the first quarter and the score was evident,” Rakes said. “We were one-and-done and they had every opportunity they wanted. It was a gutty performance and I give Baxter Springs credit. They made us earn it, that’s for sure.”

Winden leads Frontenac with a 10.0 scoring average, scoring exactly 200 points on the season with a team-high 23 3-point shots. She also brings a team-high 3.5 steals per game, one of three Frontenac players with over 60 steals on the season.

McCartney averages 8.5 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds. Her special talent has been shooting free throws, leading Frontenac in makes (67), attempts (87) and free throw percentage (78.0). McCartney scored nine of her 13 points against Baxter in the fourth, helped by 5-for-6 at the line.

Frontenac made 80 percent (16-20) of its free throws against Baxter Springs, no doubt a point of emphasis after subpar free throw shooting performances against Erie and Girard.

“Yeah, we missed four free throws the whole game and that’s one of the points we stressed,” Rakes said. “We haven’t been shooting free throws as well as of late and I told them as the season goes on, that’s either going to win or lose you a ballgame. We took it a lot more serious in practice after the Girard game. I keep preaching it and it paid off because of it.”

On the season, Frontenac shoots 62 percent at the foul line.

Cicero averages 8.2 points on 45 percent shooting from the field and 3.2 steals. Over her last four games, she averaged 15.8 points on 53 percent shooting (25-47) with games of 19 points against Colgan and Girard.

Flora adds 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Frontenac last made the state tournament in 2010 — when Gorham, Warrick, Cicero, Long and Sam Bonner were freshmen and Seward, Winden and Danielle McBride were sophomores flanking junior Katlie Brynds and senior dynamo Emily Barto. The girls of Frontenac are definitely battle-tested.

That will come in handy since Frontenac plays in a substate filled with five teams above .500 and a sixth team right at .500. Erie, that sixth team at 10-10, gave Frontenac a 40-27 dogfight on Valentine’s Day. Anything can happen at substate — overall records only determine seeding — and any team could win three straight games to punch a ticket to state.

No. 2 seed Caney Valley (15-5) lost in overtime to Pittsburg in the Wilson County Classic title game, No. 3 Colgan (12-6) finished third in the CNC behind Frontenac and Girard, No. 4 Cherryvale (12-8) placed fourth at Wilson County and five of its losses were against state-ranked Burlington and Caney, and No. 5 Southeast (12-8) gave Oswego one of its only two losses of the year and battled Frontenac to 47-40 and 55-42 in consecutive games.