Sports in Kansas: Around the State Basketball Update

Kennedy Brown of Derby was 6A POY in 2018. (photo: Jared Weinman Photography)
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Dec 18, 2018

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We highlight some impressive happenings of week one of the 2018-2019 high school basketball season in Kansas. Have something that you think is worthy of a mention or story you can suggest it anytime here

Rankings can be viewed here from the KBCA

Class 6A

The Derby girls, ranked first in 6A all season, have won three straight high-profile games and have captured 27 straight contests. Two Fridays ago, Derby won at McPherson and avenged its lone loss from last winter. Last week, Derby defeated rival Maize – then-ranked third in 5A – on Tuesday and beat Newton on Friday.

Maize held a 28-26 lead early in the second half but Derby’s stout defense again rose to the challenge and earned a 50-40 victory in its league opener. Division I signees Kennedy Brown (16 points) and Tor’e Alford (15 points) led the way. Brown missed most of the first half with foul trouble.

Halie Jones, another Division I signee, paced Maize with 12 points, and Alexis Cauthon scored nine. Against Newton, Derby rolled to a 62-33 victory. Brown tallied 20 points and Aliyah Myers and Sydney Nilles each tallied 10. Derby, which plays at Salina Central on Tuesday, is 4-0 and has permitted just 30.3 points a contest.

Derby has now won four straight versus Maize, including three wins last season. Before then, the Panthers were 6-17 versus the Eagles. A similar streak exists against Newton. Derby has won four straight and was 5-12 in the last 17 against Newton before then. The loss was the first for Newton and Maize this season.

Garden City boys opened 5-0 with a 52-47 road victory against Bear Creek, Colo., located in Denver. It marks the Buffs’ best start since the 1971-72 season. GC’s Carlos Acosta had 27 points, including 24 in the second half.

GC was plus-8 on the glass, and shot 5 of 9 from long range. Bear Creek (7-2) was 8 of 25 from beyond the arc. On Friday, Garden City makes another long road trip when it goes to Junction City. GC is 320 miles away from Bear Creek, and 246 away from Junction City.

Olathe North boys (4-1) are No. 7 in 6A and dropped four spots after a 72-67 loss to Olathe South, and a 91-81 victory against Shawnee Mission North on Friday. Tymer Jackson recorded 47 points for Olathe North and set the school record Friday.

Olathe North’s Eylia Love has helped the Eagles to a 4-1 mark, 2-0 in conference play. Love had a team-high 20 points in a 75-14 victory against Shawnee Mission North last Friday. On Dec. 11, ON beat Shawnee Mission South, 55-40, behind 15 points and seven rebounds from Love.

Sania Copeland had 15 points and six rebounds, and Le’Yanna McGinnis – who had 33 points and 24 rebounds in a game last year – with seven points and 11 rebounds.

ON girls have enjoyed a nice turnaround after a 5-16 mark last season. The Eagle girls have long struggled with an 11-10 record in 2016-17 easily the program’s best season since ’06-07.

A freshman to watch is NiJa Canady of Topeka. She is averaging 21.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.4 spg, 1.6 bpg in 2018-2019.

Topeka girls are 4-1 as the 6-0 freshman looks to be one of the top 2022's in the state this season. Canady has helped Topeka start tenth in 6A and move to seventh in this week’s rankings.

Junction City senior A.J. Dickerson had 37 points on Friday night to pace the Bluejays. 

The Washburn Rural boys, led by Kevin Muff, knocked off Topeka High by 21 points (60-39) on Friday night. Rural was ranked seventh while T-High was ranked sixth. Joe Berry, a sophomore, had two big dunks in the game.

Class 5A

Arkansas City boys, unranked in Class 5A entering last week, defeated a pair of ranked 5A squads behind standout scorer Cevin Clark. Last Tuesday, AC beat Goddard-Eisenhower, 72-67, in overtime. On Friday, AC held off Maize South, 66-61, when it scored the game’ final five points in the last 43.7 seconds.

Clark, who averaged 21 points a game last year, has tallied 29.4 points a contest this season. He had 40 points on 18 of 18 from the line versus Maize South.

Maize, Andover Central and Arkansas City led the west side of Class 5A.

Ark City bumped all the way up to sixth in 5A this week. He also averaged 4.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds and two steals a game. Clark has scored 21, 30, 26, 30 and 40 points in the five contests.

Wichita Heights, the new No. 1 team this past week after Bishop Carroll lost, moved to 4-0 with an 84-31 win against Wichita North. Heights has permitted just 34 points a game and remains first this week.

Maize senior Caleb Grill has averaged 21.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 rebounds a contest for the Eagles, ranked fourth in 5A.

K.C. Harmon sophomore Lonell Lane has averaged 27 points a contest after 17.7 last year.

Class 4A

Bishop Miege girls are now ranked No. 23 in the country in the first ESPNW Top 25 Power Rankings. Miege is 3-0 and has not played since Dec. 7. This week, Miege is at Notre Dame de Sion, located in the Kansas City area.

ND has coach Kate Pilgreen, who formerly starred at Wichita Collegiate in high school and joined the Storm basketball staff in 2012.

The Circle girls (6-0, No. 3) continued its strong resume with a 36-24 win at Augusta and a 60-38 home victory versus El Dorado last week. Circle has allowed just 34.7 points a game.

The T-Birds have defeated Labette County and Augusta, currently ranked fifth and tenth in 4A, and owns a win against Parsons. Circle has played without standout shooter Carissa Beck in all but two games this season.

However, the T-Birds have 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds from junior Mallory Cowman and 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds from senior Alyson Potter. The second through sixth-leading scorers in points per game are all seniors. Last year, Circle went 18-5 and allowed 36 points a game.

T.J. Fritz is averaging 21 points per game as a senior for Wamego in 2018-2019. Fritz has been a breakout player so far for the Red Raiders. He started his career at Riley Co. His father, Steve, was an Olympic Decathlete (4th in 1996 Atlanta). His mother, Suzie, is Kansas State head volleyball coach.

Nena Taylor continues to dominate over 2018-2018 where she has scored 30 or more points in four contests this season for the Parsons girls team. The Parsons boys are also off to a solid start despite three losses, the reason this is impressive is they have likely played the best schedule in 4A and are without star player Dariq WIlliams to a football injury. He is expected to be back next month and was a first team 4A-II pick last season as a sophomore. They've lost to 3A #1 Girard, 5A ranked Pittsburg and Springdale (Ark.).

Ryan Cobbins, a first team all-state selection for the Piper girls last Mrach, went over 1,000 career points last Friday. She is the third Piper player in school history to reach the mark. 

Class 3A

Senior point guard Trey Sides of the Phillipsburg boys, ranked No. 10 in 3A, had a big week with a Shrine Bowl nomination and a scholarship offer from Division I Jacksonville (Fla.) University.

Sides had received interest from multiple schools, but this was his first big offer. Sides is a four-year starting quarterback and point guard for the Panthers.

Jacksonville assistant Chad Eshbaugh, a Topeka native, significantly played a role in the offer. Eshbaugh was the former Cloud County boys’ coach and Fort Hays basketball player. His daughter, Jordan, is currently on the volleyball team at Fort Hays. Eshbaugh came to watch Sides in the Amos Morris Russell tournament and stayed well after the game talking to Sides’ family on the court.

Sides and Phillipsburg have a high-profile game at Beloit (5-0, No. 8 3A) on Tuesday.

Beloit, with coach Ryan Eilert, has been one of the state’s top offenses at 65 points a contest. Junior Vincent Palen averages 15.8 points a contest, while seniors Hayden Budke, Hudson Smith and Tate Thompson deliver between 12.2 and 12.5 points a game.

Last year, Beloit went 12-10 and averaged 54 points a contest. Palen delivered 15 points a game, but Thompson, Smith and Budke combined for 13.8 points a contest. Last year, Beloit shot 38 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3 point range and averaged 7.4 treys a game.

This winter, the Trojans are up to 45 percent shooting but just 24 percent on treys with 4.2 treys a game.

The free throw percentage has gone up from 61 percent to 65 percent. However, the offensive rebounding rate has increased from 25 percent last winter to 32 percent this season.

The Cheney and Wichita Trinity Academy boys led the pack in the Heart of America/Central Plains League challenge. CPL defeated HOA, 8-2.

Cheney, ranked second in 3A, beat Berean Academy, 67-49. Trinity Academy beat Trinity Catholic, 51-38. Trinity Catholic is ninth in 2A. On Dec. 11, Trinity Academy gave Cheney its only loss this season, 71-47, and is undefeated this year.

Trinity Academy is third in 4A.

In a key MCL contest, Norton girls defeated rival Smith Center, 45-37. SC was ranked fifth in Class 2A. Norton shot just 40 percent, 10 percent under Smith Center. However, the Bluejays forced 32 turnovers.

Taryn Kuhn had 16 points and three rebounds, Tessa Hauser delivered eight points and seven rebounds and Hadley Hauser has eight points, four blocks, three steals and three rebounds. Norton is 4-1 with only a 51-36 loss to Wray, Colo. In the championship of the Goodland tournament on Dec. 8.

In its home opener, Thomas More Prep-Marian picked up a couple of key MCL victories against Oakley last Friday at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.

The TMP girls, with an inexperienced group after three straight final four showings, won 45-37, moved to 3-3 and captured its 37th straight MCL victory in the regular season/midseason league tournament.

TMP returns just three players with experience and has at least one of each grade level in the starting lineup. Senior Jillian Lowe helped the Monarchs never trail and had a strong all-around game, especially defensively.

Lowe, the team’s vocal leader, had seven points, six assists, four rebounds and showcased tough defense on Oakley point guard Danielle Allison.

Junior Adell Riedel and senior Emily Schippers – the other two returners – had 11 and eight points, respectively. Riedel and sophomore Kyleigh Allen tied for the team-high in scoring.

Additionally, Oakley junior Jordyn Lowrie nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks.

In the boys’ game, TMP rolled over a solid Plainsmen squad, 61-33. Coach Bill Meagher, a former assistant is the third Monarch boys’ coach since 1950.

The Monarchs are generally the smallest school in the season-opening Hays City Shoot-Out, hosted by crosstown Hays High. TMP opened 0-2 and then held on to beat 5A Great Bend, 50-47, in the final seconds. Meagher celebrated with a big fist pump in the air.

Since the GB victory, TMP has also won at Hill City, which has been a struggle for the Monarchs in the last several years. The Monarchs also won at Pratt, a 4A school, last Tuesday. The Monarchs, with plenty of depth but no returning varsity starters, play at a furious pace.

Colby girls (4-2) nearly pulled off an upset on Tuesday against 5A Hays High and then picked up an upset versus Ulysses on Friday.  Against HHS, Colby trailed 36-22 before a big comeback and 47-44 loss.

Then, Colby beat Ulysses, 60-48, and moved to 4-2. Ulysses dropped to 4-1. Jill Stephens paced the Eagles with 19 points, while Hallie Vaughn had 15 points. Gina Ballesteros paced the Tigers with 16 points. Ulysses was 3 of 5 from the foul line, and Colby finished 14 of 20.

This week, Colby has another chance for an upset when it plays host to rival Hoxie, ranked second in Class 2A, on Tuesday.

Baxter Springs dominated then 2A #1 Colgan on Friday night. The Lions feature Trey White who averaged 22.9 points per game as a junior last spring. He's one of the better multiple sport athletes in 3A this school year. Baxter has also added Kyler Reece to their roster this year and has been a breakout junior, he added 16 on Friday. Blake Thiessen also added 12. So far the Lions have been a nice surprise in 3A. The girls also knocked off then #1 Colgan on Friday and have one of the top juniors in Kansas in Delaney Barnes. 

John Long has been quite the breakout player this year for Santa Fe Trail as he scored 37 points on Friday night, putting him over 37 on the season.

Cimarron's Matt Mowry had 61 points last week as he had 31 on Tuesday and 30 more on Friday night. 

Bo Gooch, a two-time all-state selection for Belle Plaine, had 26 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Marion on Friday night. 

Class 2A

The Southern Plains Iroquois League, especially on the girls’ side, was expected to have a strong season with many of the first team all-league players returning.

Spearville girls improved to 6-0 after a quality Southern Plains Iroquois league road win, 58-49, against South Gray. SG had beaten Meade in overtime in the Cimarron tournament final on Dec. 8. This Tuesday, Spearville is at Meade.

Against South Gray, Spearville led 16-6 after the first quarter before SG outscored the Lancers in the next three quarters. In the overtime, Spearville outscored SG, 15-6.

Spearville had 50 of its 58 points from non-seniors and shot 49 percent from the field. Junior Ehlaina Hartman delivered 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting, sophomore Alissa Heskamp had 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting, and junior Brianna Ede had 13 points on 4 of 7 from the field.

For South Gray, senior Hannah Askew continued her strong season with 18 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Hartman and Askew were each first team all-league last year.

Both teams shot well from the foul line – Spearville was 14 of 17 (82 percent), and South Gray was 15 of 20 (75 percent). South Gray (4-2) hosts Coldwater-South Central in another key league contest Tuesday.

Meade (4-1) bounced back from the South Gray loss with a 48-24 win versus Leoti-Wichita County. The Buffs led 14-12 after the first quarter before a 14-5 margin in the second quarter and 17-5 in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Lauren Christiansen had 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Senior Katey Wilhelm had a great defensive game with two points, nine steals, five assists and five rebounds.

Plainville junior point guard Aubree Dewey has averaged 30.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.6 steals in her first five contests. Plainville is 3-2.

Plainville boys are 4-2 behind junior Jared Casey. He has averaged 21.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, four steals and 2.7 assists a game.

Ness City John Pfannenstiel, who led his team to the Purple and Gold Tournament title in WaKeeney, has delivered 22.8 points, six assists and 6.2 rebounds. NC is up to third in 2A in the reshuffled classification rankings this week.

Class 1A

South Central, a final four squad the last two seasons, is 5-1 with senior point guard Bri Rutherford, another first team all-leaguer and also a two-time all-state selection. SC never lost a regular season contest last winter, though did lose to Burlington, Okla., 52-44, on Dec. 7 this season.

Last week, SC won two home games when it beat Kiowa County, 50-44, in a high-profile matchup, and then handled Hodgeman County, 61-28, on Friday. SC is sixth in 1A in the newest rankings.

Rutherford recorded 24 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists versus Kiowa County. This Tuesday, South Central at South Gray is the big SPIAA matchup.

The Mavericks, a 20-win team last season, had 21 points from junior Sabrina Thomas and 14 from senior Casey Erickson. SC limited KC star Brecken VandenHoek to just three points. This season, Rutherford averages 26 points, six rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.5 assists a game.

Central Plains had two big wins last Tuesday and Friday against rival St. John and then at Haven, ranked second in 3A, 57-24. CP has captured 90 straight games.

Emily Ryan had 34 points versus Haven. Versus St. John, Central Plains led 22-15 at halftime as Ryan had just four points before CP pulled away in the third quarter to win 54-28.

Olpe girls, under coach Jesse Nelson, the winningest coach in Kansas history, improved to 4-0 with an 86-12 home win versus Marais des Cygnes Valley. In the season opener, Olpe earned a quality 50-33 win against St. Marys before three straight big victories.

Dighton girls defeated Wallace County, 50-41, in Northwest Kansas League play. Junior forward Ella Roberts, a three-year starter, delivered 17 points.

Rural Vista led 17-9 after the first quarter and won a key Wheat State League road victory, 58-28, at Little River. Last year, RV lost to LR. RV was eighth in 1A last week and again this week. The Heat are 5-0.

Quinter’s Conner Havlas went over 1,000 career points in Friday’s 61-53 loss to Tribune-Greeley County. On Dec. 8, Havlas, who averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds last year, had 28 points on 13 of 17 shooting and 11 rebounds versus Atwood-Rawlins County, ranked fourth in 1A.

Udall’s Brayden Sadler has averaged 29 points and 7.7 rebounds a game and has exceeded 40 points twice.

Sophomore Lauryn Dubbert of Beloit St. Johns Tipton is averaging 14.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.5 spg while her senior teammate Kara Eilert (6-0) is averaging a double-double w/ 13.0 ppg & 14.0 rpg. The Blujays are ranked ninth in the latest KBCA 1A Girls Poll.