2019 Boys State Basketball Tournament Preview

Carson Poweslon is having a huge senior year. (Photo: Brooke Schettler)
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Mar 5, 2019

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Previewing all 48 teams in the state tournament this week. For pairings visit the mainpage. 

State Basketball Tournament Coverage is brought to you by American ImplementNex-Tech Wirelessand Labette Community College. Click on their name to visit their websites or see our ad on the Sports in Kansas website.

Class 6A

Washburn Rural (21-1) – Washburn Rural, with coach Kevin Muff, formerly the head coach at Cloud County and Pittsburg State, won its two sub-state games, 55-31, and 55-30. Jordan White scored 16 points, while Savian Edwards had 15, and sophomore Joe Berry tallied 10. Rural is in its first trip to state since 2011. Rural has been outstanding this year in 6A and it wasn’t expected as they entered the preseason not ranked in 6A KBCA Poll.

Blue Valley Northwest (20-2) – Blue Valley Northwest, under legendary coach Ed Fritz, opened sub-state with a 78-37 victory against K.C. Wyandotte and then defeated Olathe West, 71-64, in the sub-state title game. Last year, BVNW beat Free State for the state title. Fritz has captured four state crowns. Christian Braun, a KU signing, is second in the state in scoring at 29.8 points a game and is fifth in rebounding at 11.1 per game.

KC-Harmon (19-3) – Harmon continued one of the best seasons in school history with a 54-44 win against Shawnee Mission North and a 75-55 victory versus SM East. Harmon earned its first shared/outright KCAL title since 1988. Sophomore Lonell Lane is at 22.1 points. He's also one of the best dunkers in the state as he's been a human highlight reel. This is the fifth trip for Harmon, first since ’12. Harmon entered the season unranked in the preseason top 10 poll by the KBCA.

Lawrence (19-3) – Lawrence held off Garden City, 56-51, in the sub-state championship game. The Lions have made 39 trips to state, including all of the last five years. They are one of four Sunflower Teams in the field, so they've been tested. 

Wichita Southeast (19-3) – In a battle of top-10 teams, Southeast had no trouble with Campus, 78-56, in a sub-state title game. Sophomore Jackie Johnson, a transfer from Wichita North, is one of the state’s top scorers at 25.1 ppg, and junior Micah Jacques was a first team all-league player. They combined for 52 against Campus. SE is back to state for the first time in three years, and coach Joe Mitchell was a player on the Golden Buffaloes’ last title in 2008.

Shawnee Mission South (18-4) – SM South held off Olathe East, 50-44, in the sub-state title game. SMS is heading to state for the 14th time, first since 2013. Skyler Rhoads averages 18 ppg and 9.6 rebounds a contest. South entered the preseason poll unranked by the states coaches in 6A Top 10 by the KBCA.

Olathe North (18-4) – ON defeated Blue Valley North, 73-48, in the sub-state title game. ON is making its fourth trip to state in school history and third in the last five years. Tymer Jackson is fourth in the state at 25.9 points per game and KT Raimey is also having a solid year for the eagles. 

Lawrence Free State (15-6) – Free State advanced out of wild Sub-State 2. Derby, a four-win team entering the postseason, defeated No. 2 seed Topeka, 62-26, on the road in the semifinal. Then, Free State narrowly beat the Panthers, 60-55. Free State is the defending state runner-up.

Class 5A

Maize (22-0) – Maize, Maur Hill and Central Plains are the only perfect boys’ teams in Kansas. The Eagles feature arguably the state’s best player in Caleb Grill, a South Dakota State signee. Grill and Brandle Easter have paced the Eagles to multiple close victories, including a 53-47 win against Goddard-Eisenhower. Maize has averaged 64 points a contest. The top-six scorers are all seniors. Grill averaged 17.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists a contest. Easter has 15 points and six rebounds a game. Devon Koehn averages 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.

Bonner Springs (20-2) – The Braves defeated Spring Hill, 72-56, to qualify for state. Bonner has a high-octane offense with 70 points per game and 49 percent shooting. Four players average double figures. Senior Keyon Thomas delivers 21.2 points, 4.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 steals a contest. He has signed with Emporia State. Senior Alan Watson has 14.3 points, 4.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds. Junior Rishaud Dockery delivers 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds, and senior Nasjon Porter has 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Basehor-Linwood (19-2) – Basehor-Linwood easily held off Topeka-Seaman, 64-44, in the sub-state title game. Coach Mike McBride has 13 straight winning seasons with six straight seasons of 15 wins. The Bobcats won the 2012 state title. Jacob Colmean, a Pittsburg State signee, is one of the best players in the class. Bobcats also entered the year unranked in 5A boys basketball by the coaches association.

Andover Central (19-3) – Andover Central is one of the state’s top offenses with Xavier Bell, Braden Belt and Easton Leedom. AC averages 71 points a game and shoots 47 percent from the field. Bell, a junior, is at 20.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. Belt, a senior, delivers 18.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. Leedom averages 15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds with 5.7 assists a contest. AC held off a quality Maize South team, 55-50, in the sub-state title game. Last year, the Jaguars finished fourth in 4A-I. AC has reached the state tournament four straight seasons.

Pittsburg (18-3) – The Purple Dragons rolled KC Schlagle, 80-59, in the sub-state title game. Pittsburg finished third in Class 5A last winter. The Purple Dragons have quietly been one of the biggest overachievers this year after they were not ranked in the preseason top-10. Trenton Austin tallied 27 points in the sub-state title and has had a monster year for the Dragons. Gavyn Elkamil has three Division I offers and is a sharpshooting junior at 6-foot-3 that has been one of the more consistent player in the class. Javon Grant is one of the top sophomore point guards in Kansas and makes the team go. Also look for Brett Weimers and Jerek Butcher for the Dragons.

Salina Central (17-5) – Salina Central is the defending Class 5A runner-up. SC defeated Wichita Heights, 45-41, in a slight upset in the sub-state title game. Last year, the Mustangs pulled another upset when they defeated Maize in the sub-state, and then beat Wichita Heights and Pittsburg at state. Doug Finch has announced his retirement after 13 state appearances. SC has made state four straight years. Seniors Harper Williams and Mark Grammer have paced the team.

Bishop Carroll (17-5) – Bishop Carroll, with an elite offense, is back in the state tournament after it captured the Class 5A title last season. Carroll beat traditional power McPherson, 62-49, to move to the state tournament. Last year, the Golden Eagles defeated Salina Central, 43-41, in overtime. Senior Carson Pracht leads a balanced attack. He is at 12.1 points, 3.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds. Sophomores Alex Littlejohn (11.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Enrique Lankford (10.3 ppg) have led an offense that has shot 36 percent from long range and been one of the state’s most efficient units.

St. James (14-8) – St. James pulled a slight upset in the sub-state title game and upset higher seeded KC Washington, 49-42, and reached state for the first time in school history. Jack Moellers, an outstanding quarterback in football, is also having a big junior basketball season by averaging 16 points per game. The Thunder are tested in the EKL so throw the record out.

Class 4A

Wichita Trinity (20-1) – Trinity defeated Circle and standout scorer Jude Warren, 60-50, in the sub-state title game. Trinity is at state for the fourth time after ’08, ’09 and ’15. Trinity has had high expectations and has came through so far as they entered the year as the preseason ranked #3 team in 4A by the Kansas Coaches.

Andale (19-2) – Andale is heading to state for the sixth time in eight years after a 63-45 win against Rose Hill. Junior Easton Hunter scored 22 points. The Indians also have four key seniors in Mason Fairchild, Ethan Baalmann, Cayden Albers and Bart Neville. Andale has never won state and took third in Class 4A, Division II last year.

Chapman (18-4) – Chapman held off Nickerson, 29-28, to move in to the state tournament. It is the first trip for the Fighting Irish since 2002. Izek Jackson can be a highlight reel dunking for the Irish. Chapman is a surprise this season as they entered the season not ranked in the state coaches poll in 4A.

K.C. Piper (18-4) – The Pirates rolled over Coffeyville, 83-56, in the sub-state title game. Piper has made state the last three years. Tamar Bates leads the group at 16.2 points per game. Trey Bates also with 4.6 assists per game while Braijion Barnes is averaging 8.1 boards per contest. Pirates four losses are to 6A (2), 5A (1) and a Missouri team (1). Those 6A and 5A losses are to teams currently in the state tournament field in those classes. Pirates are for real. The first round matchup has a state final feel to it as both teams are loaded.

Parsons (17-5) – Parsons, led by head coach Anthony Houk, took fourth in Class 4A, Division II last season. Parsons defeated Independence, 72-50, in the sub-state title game. Dariq Williams leads the state with seven assists a contest. Parsons had defeated Independence twice this season and trailed 7-2 early before the Vikings turned the game. Zeke Lyons finished with 19 points, Daquan Johnson had 15, Dariq Williams tallied 12. This is one of the most balanced groups in Kansas with Williams, Johnson, Lyons and Davonte Yates all averaging in double figures. They are all also great distributors. Johnson and Williams were all-state in 4A-II as sophomores last year and were also all-state non-seniors in football this fall. Pierce Thomas has also been a surprise junior with two blocks per contest and is around 6-foot-6. Parsons has a shot at three 1,000-point scorers in the same year next year as seniors in Johnson, Lyons, and Williams.

Anderson County (17-5) – Anderson County was a state qualifier in 4A, Division II last winter. AC beat Tonganoxie, 60-50. Carson Powelson has been one of the state’s top players with 20 points and six assists a game. AC was expected to be here at this point as the entered as the preseason #6 team in the classification. Not too bad for one of the smaller schools in the class.

Augusta (16-6) – Augusta pulled an upset against a ranked Abilene squad in the sub-state championship game with a 68-45 victory. The Orioles are going to state for the first  time since 2003. Jake Sims, who was a former standout at Augusta and Fort Hays, is coaching his alma mater. Sims went up against his former high school coach and mentor Terry Taylor, who has been at Abilene for more than a decade. Zac Burton and Jaren Jackson each tallied 18 points.

Chanute (12-9) – In the biggest upset of the sub-state round, the Blue Comets won at Bishop Miege, 46-45, in the championship game. Miege had won three straight state titles. Chanute is at state for the 25th time, first since ’15. Corbett Kimberlin is a 1,000-point scorer and a great multiple sport athlete.

Class 3A

Maur Hill (22-0) – Maur Hill is at state for the fourth time in school history after qualifying in 1992, ’06 and the last two seasons. Maur Hill went 18-0 in NEK League play this year, also won the McLouth Invitational and have point guard Zach Schwinn who has went over 1,000 career points earlier this season.

Beloit (22-1) – Junior Vincent Palen leads Beloit with 14.5 points and 3.6 assists for a team that has five players who average at least seven points a contest. The Trojans return to state since three straight berths from ’12-14. Beloit defeated St. Mary (60-58) and Riley County (67-58) in sub-state. The Trojans have  only lost to Chapman.

Perry-Lecompton (20-2) – Perry-Lecompton defeated Silver Lake, 47-46, with an improbable comeback. The Kaws trailed by four with 43 seconds left in the contest before Conner Morgison made a 3 and Blake Farmer sunk a turnaround shot for the victory. P-L is back to state for the second straight year and has won 18 straight contests. Before last season, the Kaws had not made a state tournament for 35 years.

Girard (19-3) – Girard’s Caleb Muia averages 24.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest, both the top marks in 3A. Girard reached state from ’14-16 and then missed the last two years. Ryder Worrell, Evan Troike and Carter Doherty also are very solid players for the Trojans. Muia scored 91 points over three sub-state tournament games including 40 in the comeback win over Caney Valley in the sub-state semifinal before scoring 28 in the title matchup versus Baxter. Girard also has a solid win over 4A contender Parsons. Head Coach Rod Wescott has done great work with Girard basketball since coming to the school in 2008-2009, a year they took second in 4A.

Kingman (17-5) – Kingman collected its second overtime victory in a row with a 65-62 win against Wichita Collegiate. Logan Buehler hit the game-winning shot in the semifinals against Belle Plaine, and then came up big late versus Collegiate. He finished with 28 points. Kingman is at state for the first time since ’04. Kingman got through one of the toughest if not the toughest sub-state in any classification of Kansas, where the eight seed (Collegiate) knocked off the one seed (Cheney) and featured a defending champion (Halstead)

Larned (17-6) – Larned has been known for close games all season and delivered a 69-67 win against Hugoton to reach state for the first time since 1994. Larned was down 11 and had a 30-17 fourth quarter surge. Mason Perez got an all-oop make for the win to send the Indians into the 3A state tournament over Hugoton.

Eureka (17-6) – Eureka boys qualified for state for the first time since 1957, while the girls made it for the first time. The Tornadoes also won 3-2-1A state wrestling, the first state title in any sport in school annals. Eureka scores 62 points per game while allowing 55 on the season. Their sub-state wans’t one of the toughest but still featured four teams with winning records. The Tornadoes knocked off Burlington 64-58 in the final to advance to state for the first time in 62 years.

TMP-Marian (13-11) – While Chanute’s upset earned the most attention, the Class 3A Hoisington sub-state featured sub-.500 Smoky Valley beating two-loss Phillipsburg in the sub-state semifinals. TMP then knocked off SV in the finals, 60-35, behind 17 points from Jared Mayers. The Monarchs have advanced to state for the second straight year. Bill Meagher, in his first year as head coach, is the third Monarch head coach since 1950. TMP has enjoyed plenty of height with Mayers, Jack Johnson and Carson Jacobs, and Karlin and Jackson Schulte at the guards.

Class 2A

Inman (20-2) – Inman defeated Sacred Heart, 62-53, in overtime to earn a state tournament berth. The Teutons were ranked first in 2A the majority of the season until a late loss to Hutchinson Trinity. Last year, Inman reached the state tournament in 2A, though lost to eventual champion Central Plains in the first round. This time, CP is undefeated and down in 1A, and Inman is one of the state favorites. Payton Froese had 18 points, while Mason Thiessen tallied 17. The 6-foot-8 Thiessen has signed with Emporia State. Froese averages 17.2 points and 4.9 asssts per game, while Thiessen is at 11.1 rebounds. In a rare case for high school basketball, Forese and Thiessen have both scored over 1,000 points in their career in the same year on the same team.

Trinity Catholic (20-3) – Hutchinson Trinity defeated Medicine Lodge, 66-43, in sub-state. Trinity won the Heart of America title with a win against Inman in February and moved to No. 1 in Class 2A. High-flying all-state candidate Kaleb Hammeke, a Fort Hays signee, had 16 in the championship game. Lucas Hammeke tallied 21. Trinity losses have came to Cheney, Wichita Trinity Academy and Beloit. Cheney didn’t make it to state but was a one-seed in their 3A sub-state while Wichita Trinity is number one in 4A and Beloit is near the tops of 3A state tournament. Celtics are a major contender. They also have some height in 6-foot-9 senior Joshua Bridgewater.

Colgan (19-3) – Colgan lost to Central Plains, 47-34, in the state title game last season. This year, The Panthers held off Yates Center and standout Aaron King in the sub-state championship game, 40-32. Colgan didn’t score in the third quarter but outscored YC, 13-5, in the fourth. Wayne Cichon is one of the legendary coaches in Kansas history. Matthew Lomshek, who was injured in football, has been a key player, along with Aaron Higginbotham and Dalton VanBecelaere. Cichon has coached at Colgan since 1983 and won more than 600 games with five state titles. Colgan at state for the 26th time. This might have a weird feel being in Hays for the Panthers in basketball, however they are no stranger to Hays in state football. Colgan has not allowed over 50 points but once this regular season, a loss to 3A ranked Baxter (63-40), a team they later would beat the second time around. The Panthers are known for keeping high scoring teams in the 20-40s.

Ness City (19-4) – Ness City qualified out of the Meade sub-state, one of the better sub-states with three ranked teams: NC, Pratt-Skyline and Stanton County. Senior John Pfannenstiel averages 22.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals per contest. Senior Andres Rios is at 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, while senior Landon Reinhardt delivers 12.3 points and 8.1 boards a game. The Eagles have five made 3s a game and 14.9 free throw attempts per contest.

Bishop Seabury (16-4) – Coach Jonathan Raney relies on three sophomores with Zach Bloch, Stavian Jones and Miles Branch. Bloch had 29 points, while Branch scored 23 as Seabury defeated Maranatha, 95-71, in the sub-state title game. Freshmen Joao Carlos Ramirez and Sam Hertzog have played key minutes, too. Seabury is the lone team to beat 1A power Hanover. Raney played at Fort Hays from ’01-03 and also was a Tiger graduate assistant. His wife was also a former FHSU volleyball assistant. Seabury has made the state tournament three of the last four years.

McLouth (18-5) –McLouth boys are headed to state for the first time since 1960. McLouth has enjoyed a seven-win improvement from last season. McLouth is 11-1 in its last 12 contests. A couple of the losses for McLouth have came to that of undefeated Maur Hill-MA, who’s in the 3A state tournament. They’ve held opponents to under 40 points the last three contests.

Mission Valley (17-5) – The Vikings defeated Hillsboro, 53-51, and reached state for the first time since 1988 and third occasion in school history. The Vikings got to the state tournament by defeating Hillsboro 53-51 in the sub-state title game after a 61-50 victory over Northern Heights in the semifinal. They entered the tournament as a one seed with four teams that had at least a .500 or above record.

Plainville (17-6) – Plainville is back to state for the second straight season. Junior Jared Casey has cleared 1,000 career points. In the Leoti sub-state, the Cardinals defeated Ellis, 69-56, after losing to the Railroaders by 19 in January. Plainville was the No. 4 seed in the sub-state and defeated Hoxie and Ellis, the top-two seeds. Casey is at 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.3 steals. Senior Tanner Copeland averages 17.5 points with 3.5 assists. Plainville is an excellent 3-point shooting team with 7.6 treys per contest and 35 percent from beyond the arc. Copeland and Casey are two of the better multiple sport athletes in the small classes of Kansas. Sophomore Clay Pelton has made 44 treys and shot 44 percent, while Casey has 73 3s with 36 percent. Copeland has delivered 45 3s at 34 percent. Plainville also gets to the foul line well with 16.1 free throws attempted per contest. Plainville has some youth as it starts just one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman.

Class 1A

Central Plains (25-0) – Central Plains boys have captured 50 straight games and are the undefeated defending Class 2A state champions. As well, the Oilers enjoyed a perfect season in Eight-Man, Division I football last fall. Central Plains has four seniors, all at least two year starters, with Devin Ryan, Alex Hickel, Brett Liebl and Myles Menges. The Oilers led Stockton, 29-0, in the sub-state semifinals and then easily defeated high-octane Wallace County, 54-31, in the sub-state title game. Central Plains can move closer to the all-time record for consecutive boys’ basketball wins of 63 set by St. John from ’13-15.

Osborne (23-0) – Osborne defeated Northern Valley, 61-47, in the final of the Russell sub-state at Barton County Community College. The game marked the end of Chuck Fessenden’s 43-year career with the Huskies. Fessenden will coach the track season and then retire. Osborne has brothers Darnell and Darrien Holloway, Steele Wolters and center Jordan Wherry leading the team. The Bulldogs lost to Centralia in the final seconds of the Class 1A, Division I state tournament last season. This is Osborne’s fourth straight trip to state. The Bulldogs were second to Centralia in 1A-I in 2016.

Hanover (24-1) – Hanover captured the 1A-I state tournament two years ago with a win against Montezuma-Gray. Last March, the two flipped as South Gray beat Hanover. The Wildcats lost its season-opening contest to Bishop Seabury and haven’t fallen since. Hanover has high-flying Thomas Atkins, along with veterans Carter Bruna and Daiken Stallbaumer. Hanover gets one of the biggest first-round matchups in the state against St. John. The Wildcats have won six state titles under coach Kim Lohse.

Caldwell (23-2) – Caldwell has made state 11 times, including ’14, ’15, and a third place showing in ’17. The Bluejays defeated Moundridge, 39-37, in the sub-state title game. Senior Jalen Risley is at 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.8 steals a contest. Senior Corbin Rice averages 10.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and three assists a game.

Berean Academy (22-3) – Berean held off Olpe, 52-40, in sub-state and returned to state for the first time since a first-round Class 2A exit in 2016. Berean has  captured state titles in ’10 and ’11.

St. John-Hudson (21-4) – St. John has taken three losses to Central Plains and one to Hesston. The Tigers have one of the state’s top duos in point guard Mason Osborne and post Tanner Halling. Marshall Woolf has provided a spark, especially from the outside, since he transferred from nearby Stafford. Halling is at 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a contest, and Osborne stands at 13.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals a game. Woolf averages 7.3 points with 15 treys. Coach Clint Kinnamon, who has coached Kansas HS legends Jackie Stiles at Claflin and Kansas State star Dean Wade at St. John, has won four state titles: ’07, ’13-’15, and took third in 1A-I last year.

Lebo (18-5) – Lebo is back to state for the first time since ’16 and third occasion since ’11. The Wolves  beat Valley Falls, 71-69, in the sub-state semifinals, and then Randolph-Blue Valley, 55-53, in the sub-state championship game. Lebo also won their regional before being one of the two teams that would advance to sub-state in the new 1A format over Burlingame 50-43, a team they lost to earlier in the season in league play twice. Lebo, with a solid defense, has kept most opponents on the year in the 30 to 45 point range.

Macksville (19-6) – The Mustangs are the fourth Central Prairie League team to reach the state tournament, joining Ness City, Central Plains and St. John. The Mustangs defeated reigning 1A-I state champion South Gray. Macksville has won state in 2006 (against Claflin) and in 2011 (versus South Haven) under longtime coach Jeff Kuckelman. The top-five scorers are all seniors, led by 17 points and 7.5 rebounds from Karson Waters. Macksville lost to Central Plains in the sub-state championship game last season and lost 59-27 at CP on Jan. 4 this year.