By CONOR NICHOLL
The first full week in February yielded the final midseason tournament of the year – the Western Kansas Liberty League – that concluded Saturday in Colby. As well, a high number of highly ranked teams fell, as 3A Hugoton, 3A Phillipsburg, and 2A Jackson Heights beat top-10 teams on the girls’ side, and 4A Mulvane, 3A Minneapolis, 3A Norton and 1A St. John had big boys’ wins versus ranked squads.
Plus, a look at 2A No. 1 Bishop Seabury boys’ big rivalry win Saturday against rival Veritas Christian, St. John’s high efficiency on both sides of the floor and a huge game from Salina Central sophomore sharpshooter Aubrie Kierscht.
Topeka High girls are 16-0 and continue to rank first in Class 6A. The Trojans rolled over struggling Junction City, 81-23, on Friday. Sophomore standout forward Nijaree Canady tallied 25 points, while junior Lilly Smith scored 19, and freshman Kiki Smith tallied 15. Topeka averages 72 points a with 18 assists and 15 steals a contest.
The Trojans, Liberal and Wichita Heights, all in 6A West, are all undefeated and the lone perfect teams in the classification. Topeka easily leads 6A in offense. Kiki Smith has 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and three steals a game. Canady has 18 points and 10.1 rebounds a contest.
Liberal girls, ranked second in 6A, stayed perfect with a 45-38 Western Athletic Conference home win versus Great Bend on Friday, its first home game in three weeks. The Redskins are 14-0 overall, and 5-0 in the WAC. The Redskins have won 38 straight at home, 20 in a row in the WAC and 48 straight in the regular season, according to Liberal broadcaster Brock Kappelmann. Machia Mullens tallied 15 points and nine rebounds, while Katie Horyna had 12 points and four steals.
Both have signed to play Division I. Liberal earned its sixth straight contest versus Great Bend. The Redskins play three times next week, including adding a game Monday versus Newton. Liberal always plays Guymon (Okla.) and Hays High next week. If all three 6A teams finish with identical perfect records, the difference is points allowed, which favors Wichita Heights and Liberal at this point for the top seeds.
Entering Friday, Horyna was at 12 points and five rebounds a contest, while Mullens, who recently cleared 1,000 career points, was at 14 points and eight rebounds a game. Warden delivers eight points and six rebounds.
On Friday, Derby girls won at Salina South, 42-18. The Panthers are 11-2. The Derby boys beat Salina South, 75-67, and improved to 10-3. Derby averages 59 points a game. Derby’s top-two scorers have consistently been freshman Maryn Archer and transfer Derryana Cobbins, a transfer who was eligible at semester. Freshman Addie Brown and senior Sydney Nilles, a Newman commit, have continued to produce at a high level. In the team’s latest statistical release, Brown was leading the team in rebounding and Nilles in assists.
In a wild City League contest, Wichita Northwest boys defeated Wichita North, 87-74, in double overtime.
Dodge City girls improved to 12-4 and defeated Hays High, 56-34. DC has lost only to teams ranked in the top-three in a classification with defeats to Liberal (twice), McPherson and Andover Central.
Andover boys, ranked second in 5A, defeated Goddard-Eisenhower, 75-65, in a big battle of ranked teams. Andover is 14-0 and one of the state’s biggest surprises. Andover had three players with at least 16 points, led by 20 from Jack Johnson. Eisenhower guard Jordan Vincent, one of Kansas’ top scorers, had a game-high 34 points. No. 1 Bishop Carroll (15-0) and Andover are the lone perfect teams in 5A boys.
Hays High boys won at Dodge City, 69-48. HHS continues to maintain control of the Western Athletic Conference and is 9-5, 4-0 in league action. Dalyn Schwarz tied with his career-high with 19 points, while Dylan Ruder scored 16, according to Indian broadcaster Dustin Armbruster.
Salina Central girls basketball, under former coach Geoff Andrews and current coach Chris Fear, clinched its 11th consecutive winning season. SC is ranked fifth in 5A. The Mustangs easily defeated Haysville Campus, 63-19, on Friday behind another big game from sophomore Aubrie Kierscht. She delivered 32 points on 10 of 19 shooting, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range. Salina Central is 12-2.
Kierscht delivered 14.7 points as a freshman for a 12-10 squad and played for Ohlde Elite. Known for her hard work and shooting, Kierscht is arguably the state’s top shooter this winter. She averages 18.2 points with 42 of 111 from beyond the arc for 38 percent. Kierscht has made the third-most treys in Kansas this winter, according to MaxPreps. She trails Andover Central junior Bailey Wilborn (46) and Cheney junior Kylie Scheer (45).
Andover Central is ranked third in 5A at 13-1 with only an early season overtime loss to McPherson. All but 20 of the Jaguars’ points this season come from non-seniors. Sophomore Brittany Harshaw is at 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.4 assists a contest. AC has won 12 in a row, including a 53-10 win against Arkansas City.
Parsons defeated Pittsburg, 74-64, in a key Southeast Kansas League game. Parsons is ranked second in 4A, and Pittsburg is sixth in 5A. Zeke Lyons cleared 1,000 career points and tallied 22 in the win, and Javon Grant scored 31 for Pittsburg. K.C. Piper and Parsons are ranked first and second in 4A, respectively. Both are 14-1.
In a matchup of ranked girls’ squads, Nickerson defeated Halstead, 40-29. Halstead has three losses, and Nickerson is 13-2. Halstead’s Kareena Garber scored 17 points, and Kaleigh O’Brien scored 12 points. Josie McLean paced Nickerson with 11 points. Nickerson is ranked fifth in 4A, and Halstead is seventh in 3A.
Mulvane defeated Buhler boys, 66-63, in a slight upset. Buhler is ranked fifth in 4A. Mulvane’s Trey Abasolo tallied 30. Buhler is 9-4, and Mulvane is 7-6.
Unranked Phillipsburg girls, which had been ranked in three 3A polls in January, changed its defense for its rematch against WaKeeney-Trego and won 47-40 on the road Friday. Trego, ranked first in Class 2A, was undefeated entering the game. The Panthers had lost by 14 points to the Golden Eagles on Jan. 25 in the MCL tournament championship game.
Phillipsburg (13-3) switched to a box-and-one and 1-2-2 from its usual man look. The Panthers are in good position for its first MCL regular season title in more than 40 years. Panther standout freshman guard Taryn Sides had 20 points and 12 rebounds. She averages 18 points a game. Junior Meredith Jacobs had 10 points and helped the Panthers contain standout junior Lili Shubert. Phillipsburg has a two-game lead in the Beloit sub-state, a sub-state with just three teams with winning records.
Like Phillipsburg, unranked Hugoton defeated ranked teams. Hugoton (10-4) is the highly intriguing Cimarron sub-state, along with two-loss squads Scott City and Colby, ranked second and sixth, respectively, in 3A. On Jan. 31, Hugoton nearly defeated Liberal in a 41-40 loss. Hugoton had fallen, 59-42, at Liberal on Dec. 10.
On Tuesday, Hugoton beat Ulysses, 59-18. On Friday, the Eagles defeated Scott City, 53-49, in overtime. On Saturday, the Eagles earned another upset with a 37-33 win against Colby. Scott City missed a game-winning trey at the end of regulation, and Hugoton outscored the Beavers, 4-0, in overtime.
Hugoton was plus-12 on the glass, according to Western Kansas News. Standout freshman Mikyn Hamlin scored 17 points, and junior McKenna Hamlin tallied 12. Freshman Gianna Vos tallied 10. Versus Colby, Hugoton delivered a plus-six rebounding edge, and held Colby to 29 percent shooting and 18 percent from 3-point range.
Wichita Collegiate boys, ranked fourth in 3A at 11-3, has won three in a row after it lost the Bluestem final to Great Bend. The Spartans defeated Winfield, 81-54, on Dec. 31. This week, Collegiate beat McPherson, 54-51, on Tuesday. McPherson is ninth in 5A. On Friday, the Spartans easily beat El Dorado, 73-38.
Five-star sophomore recruit Gradey Dick averages 20.4 points per game. He had 21 points and five steals versus ED. Against McPherson, Dick scored 23 as the Spartans shot 24 of 25 from beyond the arc. Junior shooting guard Charlie Goree averages 9.8 points per game and scored 11 against McPherson and 13 versus El Dorado. Senior center Thornton Cole has delivered a solid year with more than five rebounds a contest.
In Mid-Continent League play, Norton boys defeated TMP, 58-47, and halted the Monarchs’ 12-game winning streak. TMP is 12-2 and had not lost since its season opener. Norton junior Jonah Ruder tallied a career-best 25 points. Norton girls improved to 8-7 with a 42-35 victory versus TMP.
The Beloit sub-state is highly challenging with TMP (12-2), Beloit (12-3), Hoisington (12-3), Phillipsburg (11-6), Minneapolis (9-5) and Norton (9-5). Beloit is the defending state runner-up.
In a key Central Kansas League contest, Haven boys defeated Hoisington, 71-47, on Friday. Hoisington had lost just twice, both to 1A St. John, including a loss Tuesday to SJ. The CKL has a three-way tie at the top with Haven, Hoisington and Haven. The Wildcats had 17 points from Wyatt Carmichael after its first loss versus Hesston on Tuesday. Haven is second in 3A – after it spent all of the pre-Christmas schedule unranked – and Hoisington is fifth.
Hesston (14-1), Haven (14-1), Lyons (13-2), Larned (11-3) and Southeast of Saline (11-4) headline the Halstead sub-state. Haven travels to Larned on Friday.
Cheney girls, ranked eighth in 3A, defeated Douglass, 64-23. Cheney is 12-3. Junior Kylie Scheer, the reigning 3A Player of the Year and an Emporia State commit, leads a team that has all but 12 points from non-seniors. Scheer is at 22.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.4 steals a game. Junior Lexi Cline delivers 4.1 assists a game, one of the state’s highest marks.
On Tuesday, Lakin boys held off Wichita County, 65-64, with a 23-15 margin in the fourth quarter. Lakin shot 4 of 29 from 3-point range, but made 16 of 29 on 2-point range. The Broncs finished with a 19-2 edge on offensive rebounds. Hunter Davis delivered 20 points on 12 of 17 from the free throw line. Sonnie Altman tallied 20, and Dominick Daniels scored 13.
Lakin has not lost to Dec. 14 to Wray, Colo. On Monday, the Broncs won at Meade, 76-56 with 24 points on 11 of 11 shooting from the foul line. Meade was ranked fifth in 1A in the Feb. 4 poll. Lakin continues to have big seasons from several players. Davis averages 20.1 points and 5.1 assists per game with 78 percent from the free throw line.
Davis has 10.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. Bachman is at 11.3 points and 39 percent from 3-point range. Altman delivers 9.9 points a contest.
Lawrence-Bishop Seabury boys, ranked first in 2A all season, earned a 79-42 win Saturday versus crosstown rival Veritas Christian. Seabury had 16 points apiece from standout juniors Zach Bloch and Stavian Jones. Juju Ramirez tallied 14 points. Senior Cobe Geen had 15 points. On Friday, Seabury defeated Grandview Christian, 54-47. Seabury is 12-2.
West Elk girls, ranked fifth in 2A, improved to 15-0 and remained one of two undefeated 2A teams, along with Garden Plain. WE defeated Oxford, 58-13. Madelyne Koop, who has tallied a double-double, had 18 points. Hayley Helms delivered 13 points. On Tuesday, the Patriots beat Flinthills, 59-40, including 24 points from Megan McClendon.
Overall, Megan McClendon has 15.3 points and 3.7 assists per game, while Koop is at 15 points and 9.2 rebounds a game.
West Elk boys delivered an 81-61 victory versus Oxford. Devin Loudermilk scored 20 points. The boys defeated Flinthills, 60-38, with a triple double from Loudermilk with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
On Tuesday, Jackson Heights defeated Jefferson County North, 38-25, in a big upset. Both teams are in the Northeast Kansas League. JCN had not lost this year and had defeated JH, 62-53, in the season opener. The Cobras are 11-2, while JCN, with Missouri Western signing Josie Weishaar, is 15-1.
The week prior, JCN had won its own tournament with a 58-50 finals win versus Perry-Lecompton. After the finals, Weishaar, a Missouri Western signing, was averaging 21.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, five steals and 2.7 assists a game, according to MSC Sports.
In a key NCAA matchup, Minneapolis defeated Sacred Heart, 39-35, and SH ended its 12-game winning streak. Sacred Heart is ranked second in 2A.
Belle Plaine, part of a new five-way tie at No. 10 in Class 2A, defeated Wichita Independent, 79-63 behind 33 points and six treys from Eli Wiseman. Austin Hilton tallied 28 points, including seven 3s.
Spearville girls moved to 15-0 with a 54-42 home win versus Kinsley on Friday. The Lancers improved from fifth to second in the 2A poll last week and could move to first this week.
In the last Kansas midseason tournament, Wheatland-Grinnell boys defeated Almena-Northern Valley, 69-64, to win the Western Kansas Liberty League tournament on Saturday in Colby.
On the girls’ side, Golden Plains defeated Logan, 41-22. GP is 16-0 after a 23-1 season last winter. GP had moved into the rankings this week at No. 10 in 1A.
In the third-place contest, Logan boys beat Triplains-Brewster, 47-41. For the girls, Wheatland-Grinnell beat Bird City-Cheylin, 38-32, for third.
W-G boys moved to 11-5 after the victory and have already exceeded last year’s win total from an 10-11 season with coach Will Bixeman, a former Thunderhawk standout. Last year, W-G fell to a senior-laden Northern Valley squad, 66-34 and 60-20. The Thunderhawks were fourth in the league tournament last winter.
On Friday, Otis-Bison girls, 14-1 and ranked No. 7 in 1A, defeated Ashland, 42-20. O-B received 21 points from Maddie Wiltse, who has more than 1,300 career points. On Tuesday, Central Plains defeated Otis-Bison, 58-35, though the Oilers led just 21-20 at halftime. CP upped its state record winning streak to 125 games with the victory.
On Friday, CP moved the winning streak to 126 contests and delivered St. John for the second time in a week and third occasion this year. CP won 64-22 as Emily Ryan tallied 19 points. Central Plains led 36-2.
On Saturday, the Oilers defeated Concordia, 79-8, and won its 127th straight game and is 16-0 this season.
Central Plains, Cunningham, Rural Vista, Golden Plains and Thunder Ridge and Olpe are the remaining undefeated teams in 1A girls. It’s highly likely that one-loss Otis-Bison, Golden Plains and Thunder Ridge could all end up in the same sub-state, same as last year.
Hutchinson Central Christian is also undefeated versus KSHSAA competition, though has lost to Sunrise Christian Academy.
St. John boys, the defending 1A state runner-up, jumped from eighth to fourth in the 1A poll this week – and should be considered a significant candidate as the top 1A team this year.
SJ then had an excellent week behind its slower pace and great defense, especially with blocked shots. On Tuesday, SJ won at Hoisington, 37-29, and mainly ran a 3-2 zone. Hoisington is fifth in 3A boys. St. John also defeated Hoisington, 58-38, on Dec. 13. On Friday, St. John moved to 11-3 with a 37-23 victory against rival Central Plains.
In the matchup last week against Hoisington, the Cardinals led 6-4 after the first quarter, and St. John led 15-13 at halftime. Sophomore Elijah Delp had 12 points for SJ, while senior Trey Fisher delivered nine points. Senior Tanner Halling had six points, eight rebounds, four steals and four blocks.
Halling and Delp are both 6-foot-7 and did a great job of guarding Hoisington’s shooters, especially on the wings. Hoisington shot 26 percent in the first SJ contest and 25 percent in the second game, easily its lowest field goal percentages this year. As well, Hoisington shot 4 of 18 and 3 of 18 versus the Tigers from beyond the arc.
“Really competed well tonight,” coach Clint Kinnamon posted on Twitter after the win. “Liked the toughness we showed. Got a good road win against a very good basketball team.”
Halling is one of the state’s top players and has helped St. John rank second in blocks per game (6.9) in Kansas, according to MaxPreps. Halling is at 15.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.3 blocks a game. Senior Marshall Woolf is at 10.3 points per contest. Senior Collin Holling is out with injury after he played six games.
This year, SJ has 53.2 possessions a game with a highly efficient .988 points per possession with .728 points allowed a possession. SJ has blocks on 13 percent of possessions and collected 33 percent of offensive rebounds. Last year, SJ was at 53 possessions with .979 points per possession and permitted .749 points allowed a possession.
The Tigers had blocks on 9.5 percent of possessions and collected 29 percent of offensive rebounds last year. St. John has a legendary coach with Kinnamon and new assistant Danton Hilton, who led Attica as a head coach to a boys Class 1A, Division II title in 2016.
Blue Valley Randolph’s Brooklynn Zoeller cleared 1,000 career points Friday. BV-Randolph is 10-8. Zoeller was averaging 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.6 assists a contest.
Senior Allie Cassel has 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. Last year, BV-Randolph was 11-10 in a season that Zoeller had 16.2 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists a contest. Cassel had 13.6 points and 10 rebounds a game in ’18-19.
Beloit/St. John’s-Tipton defeated Wilson, 58-34, and improved to 11-4. Senior Brady Palen tallied 13 points on an efficient 5 of 9 shooting. Dalton Schmitt also scored 12 on 5 of 9.
Senior Jadyn Rosebaugh and Palen, who has cleared 6-foot-10.25 in the high jump and is the defending 1A high jump champion, both had seven rebounds. Palen delivers 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a contest. Senior Brandon Bates is at 13.9 points, 3.2 assists and three rebounds a game.
Centralia girls are 10-5, 7-1 in the Twin Valley League earned a key 57-49 victory against Frankfort. Morgan Kramer delivered 13 points for the Panthers, and Alli Toomer led Frankfort with 14 points.
Centralia boys defeated Frankfort, 60-46, and continued to turn around its season in league play. The Panthers are 9-5, though 9-0 in TVL play. Kamble Haverkamp, the Class 1A Offensive Player of the Year in the fall, was presented with his Shrine Bowl honor Friday. Haverkamp led with 21 points.
On Saturday, Hodgeman County boys defeated Macksville, 47-44 with a game-winning buzzer-beater trey from senior Eli Salmans.
Udall boys were 13-9 last season and is 13-2 this year and moved into the poll at No. 10 in 1A this week. Senior Brayden Sadler has 28.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and three assists a game. On Friday, Udall defeated Sedan, 35-28.
Steele Wolters of Osborne went over 1,000 career points as the Bulldogs remain undefeated.
South Haven’s Cooper Wolf delivered 22 points and went over 1,000 career points.