By CONOR NICHOLL - Cnicholl1@gmail.com
A look at the top sub-states across the state. The 1A sub-states were finalized this weekend after regionals finished Saturday night.
Class 6A – Campus boys, Topeka/Liberal girls remain undefeated; W. Heights girls without key player
Kansas City Harmon and defending champion Blue Valley Northwest are both 18-2 and seeded first and second respectively in 6A boys East. Blue Valley North is the third seed at 17-3. Olathe West (15-5) is the fourth seed, and gets Olathe South (14-6) as the five seed. Both OW boys and girls, in its third season of existence, have enjoyed surprising turnaround seasons.
On the western side, Campus is 20-0 and has been ranked No. 1 the majority of the year by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Blue Valley Northwest is second, Blue Valley North third, Lawrence fourth and K.C. Harmon fifth.
The Colts won the prestigious midseason Dodge City Tournament of Champions and have a significant amount of depth with the Chapman brothers (Sterling and Steele), Shawn Warrior and Thomas King leading the way. Campus, though, does get Derby (13-7) in its sub-state. The league rivals have played each other twice with Campus earning a pair of close victories by a combined 11 points.
Washburn Rural (16-4) and Manhattan (13-7) are in Sub-State No. 2.WR has defeated Manhattan twice in Centennial League play by seven and eight points. Washburn Rural, under former Pittsburg State coach Kevin Muff, has won four straight and is 7-1 in its last eight games. Rural is 2-2 in four overtime contests.
Lawrence (16-4) features Mason Quartlebaum, a Kennesaw State commit. The Lions have Wichita Southeast (14-6), and one of the state’s leading scorers in Jackie Johnson, a high-major Division I recruit. As well, Wichita Heights (8-12) is having a rare sub-.500 season but is a longtime power under coach Joe Auer. He was selected for the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame this winter. Lawrence Free State and Topeka are both 15-5 and round out the fourth 6A West sub-state.
The 6A West girls has been one of the leading storylines of the winter with Topeka High, Liberal and Wichita Heights. All were undefeated until the final week of the regular season. WH, with a better statistical scoring defense, was in line to be the No. 1 overall seed. However, the Falcons lost star sophomore Zyanna Walker to a season-ending knee injury. Heights suffered its first loss to City League rival Bishop Carroll. Liberal and Topeka are both 20-0 and finished as the top-two seeds, respectively. Liberal is very senior-laden with its pair of Division I signees with Katie Horyna and Machia Mullens.
The Redskins have posted back-to-back perfect regular seasons and have advanced to state the last two winters. Topeka gets virtually all of its production from non-seniors, including freshman Kiki Smith and sophomore Nijaree Canady. Heights is the third seed at 19-1 and gets defending state champion Washburn Rural (15-5) in its sub-state. Derby (18-2) and Dodge City (16-4) are in the fourth sub-state.
Derby has retooled with senior Sydney Nilles, a Newman signing, along with depth that includes juniors Katelyn Kennedy, Jaidyn Schomp, senior Heather Mills and transfer Derryana Cobbins. Freshmen Maryn Archer and Addy Brown have led the squad in scoring the majority of the year.
Olathe West lost its last two Sunflower League games but still earned the Sunflower League championship. OW won two league contests last year and has experienced a big turnaround with coach Rick Rhoades, along with guards Mackenzie Hart and Bailey Collar. OW and Olathe East both went 10-2 to lead the league, though OW beat OE, 33-32, on Feb. 7 on a last-second shot from Collar.
Hart also delivered a buzzer-beater to beat Olathe South, 47-44, on Feb. 21. OW had a conference point differential of plus-8.8 per game, which ranked sixth-best in the SL, according to Sunflower Smack, a media entity that regular covers the league. Hart was first team all-league Sunflower, Collar second team by Sunflower Smack.
Shawnee Mission Northwest earned the top seed in 6A East with a 16-4 mark. SMNW went 8-4 in league play, though is the only team to defeat McPherson, ranked No. 1 in 5A. Blue Valley North (16-4) and Olathe South (13-7) lead the second sub-state. Olathe West (15-5) and Olathe North (14-6) are in the third sub-state. Olathe North beat Olathe West, 56-45, to close out the regular season. Olathe East and Shawnee Mission West are both 15-5 and are in Sub-State 4.
Class 5A – Eisenhower’s Jordan Vincent with huge season; rivals Hays High/Great Bend in same sub-state; Maize South/Salina Central girls with possible matchup
For 5A East, Basehor-Linwood (18-2) headlines Sub-State 1. B-L owns a win against Kansas City Piper, the defending 4A champion and ranked first in 4A. De Soto (14-6), Highland Park (13-7) and Topeka West (13-7) lead the other sub-states. Pittsburg is also 13-7 and in Sub-State 4, though is a darkhorse to make a deep run.
5A is considered stronger on the West side. Bishop Carroll, know for defense, and Andover Central, highlighted by offense, are both 20-0. They have been ranked first and second, respectively.
Carroll is by far the best scoring defense in 5A with just 39.8 points allowed. Andover has scored 67.7 points per game. Goddard-Eisenhower, with Jordan Vincent, is slightly higher at 67.8 points a contest. Basehor-Linwood leads the state with 69.3 points a contest. Vincent has delivered an incredible stat line with 24.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists a contest.
He has scored 1,348 career points in his career. Vincent has improved as a 3-point shooter this year with 21 of 65 from beyond the arc. In his first three seasons, Vincent was a combined 26 of 106. Vincent is outstanding at getting to the free throw line with 207 and 186 free throw attempts, respectively, in the last two winters. Andover defeated Eisenhower, 71-61, on Jan. 7 and 75-65 on April 7. Eisenhower is the No. 3 seed and has Kapaun (14-6) in Sub-State 3. The teams have not played this year.
Sub-State 4 is highly interesting with No. 4 seed Great Bend (16-4) and its biggest rival, No. 5 seed Hays High (14-6). Great Bend’s top-eight players are all seniors. The teams split the Western Athletic Conference title. On Jan. 14, Hays High defeated Great Bend, 64-62, at home. On Feb. 11, Great Bend beat HHS, 60-56.
GB ended the season on an 11-game winning streak. Hays High’s top-five scorers are non-seniors, paced by 10.7 points from junior T.J. Nunnery. HHS has significantly more height than Great Bend, especially with Dylan Ruder (6.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 32 blocks) and Dalyn Schwarz (10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds).
Class 5A East features Topeka-Seaman (17-3) leading the first sub-state. However, St. James Academy (11-9) has enjoyed a turnaround with transfer Faith Hawthorne, a Division I talent. SJA and Seaman could meet in the finals. SJA will face Blue Valley Southwest (11-9) in the semifinals. BVSW owns an overtime victory versus Olathe West and is the defending 5A runner-up. Seaman is ranked fourth.
Aquinas, the defending state champion, is the heavy favorite In Sub-State No. 2 with a 16-4 mark. In 3, Basehor-Linwood and K.C. Schlagle are each 14-6. Schlagle was a final four squad last winter. De Soto is the host in Sub-State 4 at 14-6.
Similar to 5A boys, 5A girls is considered deeper on the West side. McPherson (19-1) is the significant favorite in Sub-State 1. Andover Central (19-1) leads Sub-State 2 that features Goddard (13-7) and Central Missouri signee Kade Hackerott. AC is 2-0 against Goddard this year, though in a par of very close wins: 59-56 on Dec. 17, and 49-45 in overtime on Feb. 14.
The Jaguars’ only loss was a 54-50 overtime defeat to McPherson in the second game of the year. McPherson, Aquinas and Andover Central are the top-three squads respectively in the rankings.
Bishop Carroll and Maize South lead Sub-State 3 and 4, respectively, both with 16-4 records. Maize South finished the regular season 4-3 with losses by 20 points to Maize, 29 against Andover Central and a 45-42 overtime loss to Goddard. Maize South will likely face Salina Central (15-5). SC is without Kadyn Cobb, a Missouri Western signee, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Sophomore Aubrie Kierscht is one of the state’s best shooters at 17.2 points a game. She has made 59 treys for 38 percent, and sunk 86 percent from the free throw line.
Maize South is ranked fifth, and Salina Central eighth.
Class 4A: Led by elites
Class 4A East is very top-heavy with Parsons (19-1), KC Piper (19-1) and Bishop Miege (16-4) leading the top-three sub-states. They have been the 4A favorites and top-three teams in some form all season. Ottawa (16-4) is the fourth seed, and faces Chanute (7-13) in the first round. Chanute upset Bishop Miege in the sub-state title game last year.
On the West side, Augusta (16-4), Andale (14-6), Clearwater (14-6) lead sub-states where they are the only teams that have a winning record. In Sub-State 4, Buhler and Abilene are both 13-7. Eudora, with twins Reagan and Riley Hiebert, are 18-2.
K.C. Piper and Bishop Miege are also 18-2; all three teams are heavy favorites to advance. Last year, Miege beat Piper in the championship. Miege has been ranked No. 1 all year with sisters Ashton and Payton Verhulst. Ashton, a senior, has signed with Central Florida. Payton is one of the top junior recruits in the country, and recently cleared 1,000 career points.
Labette County (16-4) and Baldwin (15-5) meet in Sub-State 4 on the East. LC coach Kristi Snider picked up her 400th career win earlier this season. Baldwin senior Josie Boyle averages 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, and junior Jenna Harvey is at 9.2 points and 9.9 rebounds a contest. Baldwin is a great offensive rebounding team with collecting 37 percent of available offensive rebounds.
On the West girls, Nickerson (18-2) and Circle (17-3) are the top seeds in their sub-states. Nickerson won the Central Kansas League. Nickerson is ranked fourth, and Circle fifth. Wamego and Chapman are both 16-4. Chapman might meet up with rival Abilene (15-5) in the sub-state title.
Class 3A: Multiple deep sub-states, especially Halstead, Beloit, Galena and Cimarron; Phillipsburg girls look for first-ever state trip
Class 3A is very deep on both sides – possibly the deepest of all classifications. This is highlighted by the wild Halstead boys’ sub-state with its bevy of Central Kansas League teams: Hesston (18-1 at time of seeding), Haven (17-2), Lyons (15-5) and Larned (14-5). Southeast of Saline, out of the NCAA, is the fifth seed at 14-6. Hesston’s only loss cam in a 56-53 road defeat to Hoisington on Jan. 18.
However, Hesston has wins against Haven, Lyons and Larned by a combined 12 points. Larned beat Haven in overtime at home. Lyons finished the season 1-3 with a 19-point loss to Haven, though defeated Larned earlier this year. In the final Kansas Basketball Coaches Association rankings, Hesston is first and Haven fifth.
The Beloit sub-state has six teams between 17 and 12 wins, led by 17-3 Beloit, the defending state runner-up and ranked seventh in the state. Hoisington is the second seed at 16-4, while TMP-Marian, 15-4, won the Mid-Continent League midseason tournament and regular season titles. Hoisington has three players in double figures, all non-seniors, led by juniors Drew Nicholson (16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and Mason Haxton (12.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists). Beloit’s top-five scorers are all seniors, paced by 16 points a contest from Vincent Palen.
TMP features junior sharpshooter Jackson Schulte, who has averaged around 18 points a game, and 6-foot-7 forward Carson Jacobs. None of the top-three teams have faced each other this season. Beloit has made 119 treys at 34 percent, led by 59 3s at 43 percent from Carson Cox. However, Hoisington is at 126 made 3s at 36 percent. Hoisington is ranked tenth.
The 3A Galena sub-state has six teams between 15-5 and 11-9. Frontenac and Galena are both 15-5. The teams split the regular season meetings. Galena won 56-46 on Jan. 10, and Frontenac earned a 58-39 victory on Feb. 11. Galena was picked sixth out of seventh by the CNC coaches at the preseason media/coaches luncheon. Bulldogs finished the season as the outright CNC league champions. Brett Sarwinski has been one of the top 3A sophomores in the state this season for Galena. Frontenac is led by senior Hayden Pile and features some height in 6-foot-8 sophomore Jordan Fudge and 6-foot-5 sophomore Landon Dean. Columbus also features sharpshooting Patrick Cassidy, an all-state candidate in 3A, who is averaging 23 points per game, including 40 in a game against Fronteanc earlier this year..
Cheney (18-2) and Wichita Collegiate (17-3) lead the Cheney sub-state. Collegiate, with its five-in, five-out rotation and frenetic pace, features five-star recruit Gradey Dick. The Royal Valley boys’ sub-state also has seven teams at .500 or better. RV and Rock Creek are both 19-1. Rock Creek is ranked second in 3A.
On the girls’ side, Phillipsburg is 17-3, three games ahead of anyone else in sub-state. The Panthers won its first MCL regular season title in more than 40 years. Phillipsburg has never made a state tournament in program history.
The Halstead girls’ sub-state features No. 1 Halstead (17-3) and No. 2 Haven (16-3). However, Haven is ranked fifth, and Halstead is seventh. Halstead has junior Kareena Gerber, and Haven features Faith Paramore, both are 1,000-point scorers. The sub-state has five teams with winning records. Haven defeated Halstead twice this year: 37-30 on Jan. 14, and 34-27 on Jan. 31. Haven has won five in a row.
No. 1 Nemaha Central (20-0) again has Big 7 rival Sabetha (17-3) in its sub-state. Sabetha is ranked third and is 0-2 against NC with a 53-40 loss on Jan. 14, and 42-21 on Feb. 25.
The 3A Cimarron sub-state features its three GWAC teams: Scott City (17-2), Colby (17-3), and Hugoton (15-5). SC only has losses to Colby and Hugoton, though also beat Colby twice. Scott City’s Emily Weathers has cleared 1,000 points and has signed with Emporia State, and Brynn McCormick has taken a big improvement as a sophomore. Colby is without standout Jill Stephens because of a season-ending knee injury, though has 1,000-point scorer Hallie Vaughn. Hugoton features a talented freshmen and junior class.
Class 2A – Trego girls continue to set program marks; Dewey closing in on 2,000; Ellis, Horton, Sedan with intrigue
The Elkhart girls sub-state features Spearville (20-0), the No. 1-ranked team and the only undefeated squad. After 19 contests, senior Ehlaina Hartman was at 20.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.5 assists and 1.3 blocks a contest. Junior Alissa Heskamp delivers 13.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.9 steals a game. Four teams have winning records.
The Ellis sub-state has WaKeeney-Trego (19-1), followed by Oakley and Hoxie both at 15-5. Smith Center is 11-8. WaKeeney, which was a final four team last winter, has enjoyed another historical season. The Golden Eagles opened the season with 15 straight victories, the longest winning streak in school history for the girls. The previous mark was 13 in ’76-77. Trego, known for its excellent pack line defense, has permitted 30.1 points a game, which is on pace to shatter the school record of 35.2 points a contest allowed from last winter.
Trego’s 19 wins in the regular season is the most in school annals for the girls, besting 16 in ’80-81 and last season. Ellis (9-10) and Plainville (9-11) feature Grace Eck and Aubree Dewey. Eck recently became the eighth player in Railroader history to clear 1,000 career points. Dewey has shot at least 44 percent from the field in the last five games, and hit at least 40 in three of the past four. She is at 1,961 career points.
The Horton sub-state has Valley Heights, Jackson Heights and Jefferson County North, all at 18-2. JH has Kylie Dohl, the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. JCN has Josie Weishaar, a Missouri Western signing. Jackson Heights and JCN split its two meetings.
The Sedan sub-state is highly intriguing with West Elk (19-1) and Garden Plain (15-5). GP won 3A two years ago, and 2A last year. WE lost the regular season finale, 31-30, against 3A Eureka, which is ranked No. 9 in 2A. Junior Madelyne Koop leads West Elk at 15.3 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. In the MaxPreps statistical rankings, GP is ranked higher than WE because of a substantially harder strength of schedule (4.7 to -4.5). The Owls finished the regular season 2-2.
In the final rankings, Trego is third, West Elk fifth, Valley Heights sixth, JCN seventh, Jackson Heights eighth and Garden Plain tenth.
The Ellis boys sub-state has five teams with at least 12 wins. Hoxie is atop at 18-2, though lost 67-65 to Ellis in overtime in the Quinter Castle Rock Classic finals in December. The Lyndon sub-state has Bishop Seabury (18-2), Lyndon (17-3) and Northern Heights (17-3). However, Seabury, led by coach Jonathan Raney and junior Zach Bloch, has been ranked No. 1 all year. Seabury has not lost since Jan. 25.
The 2A Sedan sub-state has Cedar Vale/Dexter (17-2), Belle Plaine (16-4), Garden Plain (15-5), Sedan (14-6) and West Elk (11-10). However, WE has a 42-36 win against CVD from Feb. 18. Garden Plain beat Belle Plaine 62-56, on Jan. 10. CVD senior Devin Catlin has averaged 17.1 points a contest. He is arguably the state’s shooter with 50 percent from long range (47 of 94).
Class 1A: Top-three in Trego girls with combined three losses; upsets in 1A boys; Udall boys look for rare state trip
Regionals are completed, and the sub-state brackets are set. Two big upsets occurred on the boys’ side with No. 1 Osborne and La Crosse losing. Central Plains boys are 10-13, though beat La Crosse in regional and have improved throughout the season, especially once Lawson Oeser came back from injury. CP won two state titles, though graduated four starters.
Easily the top one is the 1A girls in WaKeeney-Trego with Golden Plains (23-0), Thunder Ridge (21-0) and Otis-Bison (21-2). These three teams also met up in Trego last year. TR defeated both teams and eventually reached the final four. This season, O-B has only lost twice to Central Plains, on the longest winning streak in state history. Golden Plains/Weskan and Thunder Ridge/Otis-Bison are both Friday. Thunder Ridge sixth, Otis-Bison seventh and Golden Plains eighth.
The Pratt boys’ sub-state has Meade (18-4), South Central (18-5) and Hodgeman County (15-8). Coach Aaron Dardis, who previously led Hoxie to a state runner-up, has led Meade to a six-win improvement from last winter. Meade averages 60 points a game, led by junior Vance Shewey (18.3 points, nine rebounds a contest) and senior Grant Gillum (15.2 points, seven rebounds a game). Meade has made 92 treys and shoots 36 percent from beyond the arc. South Central has Owen Alexander and Xavier Frazier. Meade is ranked seventh.
The Dodge City boys has St. John (20-3), South Gray (19-3) and Kiowa County (16-6). St. John is ranked third, and South Gray is fourth. Kiowa County won the Southern Plains Iroquois midseason tournament.
The Marysville girls’ sub-state features Rural Vista (23-0), Beloit/St. John’s-Tipton (18-5), Centralia (16-8) and Frankfort (15-9). BSJT junior Lauryn Dubbert averages 20.1 points, 5.1 steals, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists a contest. RV is third.
The Emporia boys features Lebo and Udall, both 20-3. Both have two of the state’s best players with Lebo’s Devan McEwen and Udall’s Brayden Sadler. Udall has one all-time state tournament appearance, in 2012. The state’s leading scorer, Sadler, a senior, is at 27.8 points, five rebounds and 2.7 assists a contest. Sophomore Austin King is at 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Udall was 13-9 last season. Lebo is ranked sixth and Udall eighth.
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