By CONOR NICHOLL
Regardless of roster construction, Rexford-Golden Plains girls’ basketball coach Parker Christensen has consistently delivered high success at one of Kansas’ smallest schools. The leadership has currently yielded an historically great regular season winning streak – and one of two remaining unbeaten Class 1A, Division II squads.
Christensen, with longtime assistant coach Steve Shaw, has more than 360 career wins with the Bulldogs. Since the start of ’12-13, GP has won 84 percent of its games.
GP finished 23-1 two years ago with a team, led by KayCee Miller, that featured elite speed. Miller and Hanover’s Macy Doebele were the only two 1A players picked for their squad for the Kansas Basketball Coaches all-star game. Miller played at Barton County, Doebele with Washburn.
Last winter, Christensen lost his top post, Mabel Lugo, to a season-ending knee injury in volleyball. Golden Plains shot 32 percent entering sub-state but was excellent at offensive rebounding and turnover prevention.
GP had limited depth, though returned the Stoll twins (Brooke and Ashley) and Miller’s sister, Kassie. Golden Plains went 24-1 and again lost in the 1A WaKeeney sub-state title game.
This season, the Bulldogs again feature the Stolls and Miller as starters. As well, 5-foot-3 sophomore Breanna Rath, who impressed as a reserve last winter, has moved into the starting lineup. Junior Morgan Wark is a starter.
Five-foot-10 junior Carli Nieman, the team’s tallest player, started last winter. She was sick the first month of ’20-21 and is just now rounding into form. The Stolls are the team’s lone seniors; Miller is a junior.
Christensen is not used to having plenty of depth. This season’s team presents a change. He has consistently played 10 girls in the first half of each contest. Other key players are sophomore Sidney Taylor, junior Rayna Taylor, and two freshmen: Jordyn Fleckenstein and Emma Weiner.
“Our depth off the bench this year has improved dramatically,” he said.
The changes have produced a 6-0 start and No. 3 ranking in Class 1A, Division II. This winter, Class 1A split back into two classes and the top-6 stands Central Plains, Hanover, GP, Cunningham, Attica and Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton. On Tuesday, BSJT senior star Lauryn Dubbert tallied 40 points in a comeback win versus Osborne.
Golden Plains and Southern Coffey County are the lone undefeated teams left in the classification. SCC is 1-0, according to KSHSAA records as of Jan. 12. Overall, Golden Plains has the second-longest current regular season winning streak in Kansas girls’ basketball for all classes, according to SIK research/MaxPreps databases. (Regular season is defined as not a sub-state/state game).
Golden Plains’ last regular season loss came against Hill City, 49-33, on Feb. 15, 2018. GP, which will serve as a sub-state host, last took a home defeat on Jan. 23, 2018 in a 39-33 loss to Quinter.
The only girls’ team with a longer current regular season run is Olpe with Jesse Nelson, the state’s all-time winningest coach. Olpe last lost in the regular season to Waverly, 54-47, on Jan. 28, 2017.
Thus far, MaxPreps’ statistical-only rankings have the Bulldogs as the No. 1 team in Class 1A, Division II. Golden Plains has captured all games by at least 20 points. That includes 63-43 versus Weskan in the season opener, and 57-35 versus St. Francis on Jan. 9. Weskan and SF are a combined 9-2 in other contests.
Brooke Stoll leads with 13.7 points per game. Kassie is at 12.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals a contest. Ashley delivers 10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.8 steaks. Wark has 7.2 rebounds.
The depth has produced team per-possession numbers that are in line with the past two seasons. On 60 possessions a game, Golden Plains has scored .90 points per possession and allowed .36, both excellent rates. GP has collected 36 percent of available offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 18.4 percent of the time.
The turnover rate is especially elite. Among others entering Tuesday, undefeated teams Cheney and Garden Plain are higher at 19.1 and 22 percent. Pretty Prairie and Erie, ranked in 1A-1 and 2A, are both above 25 percent.
Entering sub-state last winter, Golden Plains had collected 40 percent of offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 20 percent of the time. Two years ago with KayCee Miller, GP was at 59 possessions a contest, 37 percent offensive rebounds and 22 percent turnovers. That team scored .84 points and allowed .44 points per possession.
Liberal, Topeka, Olpe, Central Plains, Spearville and Nemaha Central all posted undefeated records and were Forever Four squads in a ’19-20 season that was halted in the state semifinals because of coronavirus. Plus, Cunningham was undefeated until a 1A state quarterfinal loss to Centralia.
Central Plains had its all-time state record 138-game winning streak end with a 49-44 loss to Phillipsburg on Dec. 11. Cunningham is 6-1 and fell to Wichita Life Prep, 45-35, on Dec. 8. Life Prep is a non-KSHSAA school and is 6-2 with close losses to Hugoton (No. 5 3A) and Thomas More Prep-Marian.
On Tuesday, Liberal girls lost, 42-38, to Garden City. Liberal’s regular season run was longer than Golden Plains. The Redskins’ last regular season defeat came at Hays High, 48-41, on Jan. 5, 2018.
Notably, Nemaha Central’s last regular season loss came against Sabetha, 42-19, on Feb. 19, 2019. NC was 24-0 last winter and has won 31 in a row, including postseason.
Topeka High girls, winners of 28 straight games overall, last lost in the regular season to Emporia, 50-49, on Jan. 24, 2019.
Spearville, winners of 29 consecutive, lost 56-47 to Ingalls in the regular season on Feb. 24, 2019. In ’19-20, Spearville went 24-0 and is 5-0 this season.
Bishop Miege, ranked No. 1 in 4A, is 6-0 this winter. Miege lost two regular season games last year, both to Oklahoma teams. The Stags’ last regular season loss to a Kansas school came in a 56-51 defeat to rival St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 12, 2018.
Additionally, Thunder Ridge lost, 47-40, to Osborne on Dec. 8 this season. TR was undefeated until the sub-state semifinals last winter. It marked the Longhorns’ first regular season loss since a 34-29 defeat to Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton on Dec. 7, 2018.
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