The Central Plains boys’ and girls’ basketball teams enjoyed a rare historical feat last winter. The CP girls earned its fifth straight state title. The Central Plains boys, after falling just short at state twice in the previous four seasons, broke through and also captured the state crown.
Both squads finished 26-0. It marked the second time boys’ and girls’ teams from the same school earned perfect records in the same year. 2011 Wichita Heights is the only other program, according to Kansas historian Carol Swenson.
Central Plains, known for its excellent team chemistry, athleticism and man-to-man defense, had five of its top-six players back last winter.
“Everyone says we are a fun team to watch,” senior Brett Liebl said. “We are very unselfish and we play as a team. Also, our defense is what sets us apart from others.”
CP allowed more than 45 points in just one game last winter and defeated Pittsburg/St. Mary’s-Colgan, 47-34, for the championship. CP enjoyed a big defensive improvement from two winters ago and had an average margin of 61-36.
“I am defensive first guy,” veteran coach Brett Rolfs said last March. “I love to score points, but I think it all starts there, and they know that.”
This year, four starters return with seniors Liebl, Devin Ryan, Myles Menges and Alex Hickel.
“They are really close,” Rolfs said. “They get along really well, which is great from a standpoint of the coach, you don’t have to battle egos.”
Since the start of the 2017 season, Central Plains is 22-2 in football, and Liebl is one of eight-man’s top defensive players. The Oilers just won the 8M-I state championship on Saturday in Newton, going 13-0. Liebl was one of the top defensive playmakers in the state.
“No one tries to play outside of themselves,” Skyline coach Kenny Eddy said last year of Central Plains’ chemistry and discipline. “It’s incredible.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Liebl has a 28-inch vertical jump with maxes of 225 in bench, 375 in squat and 275 in clean. He has posted 5.06 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Liebl averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds with 63 percent shooting as a sophomore. Last year, he tallied 16.2 points, seven rebounds and 1.8 assists with 66 percent shooting.
“My quick first step gets many defenders off balance,” Liebl said.
He recorded 47 points in the state tournament, most of any player. He was a finalist for Sports in Kansas Class 2A Player of the Year and was first team 2A all-state by Sports in Kansas. Liebl said playing basketball with his friends is his favorite part of the sport.
“I started playing MAYB basketball in the third grade,” Liebl said. “My dad and my uncle coached our team and I have played with the same guys during the summer ever since.”
Liebl, like many Central Plains athletes, is highly accomplished in multiple sports. He has collected all-state and all-academic in tennis. CP won the state 3-2-1A tennis title in 2016, and Liebl earned fifth place in doubles.
Central Plains earned the powerlifting state title his sophomore and junior year. Liebl was third in the 181-pound weight class last season.
The last two springs, Oiler boy tennis has earned second at state, and Liebl has finished second and third in doubles. Liebl called physics his favorite subject and has a 3.9 GPA.
This fall, Menges, Hickel, Liebl and Ryan are all returning starters in football.
Ryan, an outstanding multi-sport athlete, is the older brother of junior Emily Ryan, the returning Sports in Kansas Girls Player of the Year.
Central Plains dropped to 1A as 1A-I and 1A-II again rejoined to form one class for the first time since 2010.
“I am lucky to get to play with Devin Ryan, one of the best point guards in the state who sees the floor really well,” Liebl said. “Myles Menges who can guard anybody on the court with his 6”4’ stature and quickness, and Alex Hickel who uses his athleticism to score from anywhere on the court. I think Lawson Oeser is really going to step up this year as he has gained confidence over the summer. Jerred Bieberle and Brett Thompson will contribute valuable minutes.”
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Brett Liebl Q&A
How did you get involved in basketball?
I started playing MAYB basketball in the 3rd grade. My dad and my uncle coached our team and I have played with the same guys during the summer ever since.
What are your goals this season?
To make it to state and to win another state title. But we always have to take one game at a time.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Yes. We have lots of guys with experience who are all capable of having a breakout game on any given night.
What makes you such a force as a player?
My quick first step gets many defenders off balance.
What’s the atmosphere like to play basketball for your school and town?
It is always exciting to play in front of our home crowd. It is a small community but everyone comes and supports our high school sports.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Everyone says we are a fun team to watch. We are very unselfish and we play as a team. Also, our defense is what sets us apart from others.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
My strength involves posting up and scoring in many different ways. This summer, I have been trying to develop a 3-point shot.
Who are other key players on your team?
I am lucky to get to play with Devin Ryan, one of the best point guards in the state who sees the floor really well, Myles Menges who can guard anybody on the court with his 6”4’ stature and quickness, and Alex Hickel who uses his athleticism to score from anywhere on the court. I think Lawson Oeser is really going to step up this year as he has gained confidence over the summer. Jerred Bieberle and Brett Thompson will contribute valuable minutes.
Favorite thing about basketball?
I get to play ball with my friends.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I play football and tennis. I play multiple positions on the football field but my favorite is defensive end. On the tennis court, I play doubles.
What is it like to play for your coach?
I have a lot of respect for Coach Rolfs. He has taught me a lot and has made me a better player. He preaches that defense decides whether the game is won or lost. Coach cares about us individually and puts a lot of time and effort in every week.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We lifted weights and played basketball all summer long.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I haven’t made a decision yet.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Hang out with family and friends.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully I have graduated from college and am working as a Physical Therapist.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
Physics, even though it is very challenging. I have a 3.9 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My dad is my role model. When I was little he always took me to go shoot. He has come to every single game of mine.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
There isn’t a certain place I like to eat at, but Squeegy’s in Claflin is really good.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I have a stamped penny collection of every state I have been to. (18 states)
Anything else to add?
Can’t wait to get back on the court for my Senior year!