By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
Girard has 305 students, which is tied for the third-biggest Class 3A enrollment.
Pittsburg has 872, which places the Purple Dragons in Class 5A.
The towns are located 14 miles apart on KS-7 and KS-126. Both are in Crawford County.
Girard boys’ basketball stands at 8-3 with four straight victories after a 41-30 win versus Baxter Springs on Tuesday. The run includes a 74-65 overtime win against Pittsburg last Thursday in a quickly scheduled game.
The teams don’t play each other every year, though it ended a two-game losing streak in the series for the Trojans. It marked Girard’s first win versus Pittsburg since a 67-63 victory on Dec. 8, 2015. Plus, it yielded Girard’s highest point total against the Purple Dragons since before ’05.
In 2019, Girard finished 21-3 and captured the Class 3A state championship. Coach Rod Wescott earned Sports in Kansas all-classes Coach of the Year. Caleb Muia was the Sports in Kansas 3A Player of the Year for GHS. Last season, the Trojans slipped to 8-12 before the bounce back this winter. Girard spent 2019-2020 in 4A before coming back down to 3A this season.
The Girard girls, with veteran coach Brad Herlocker, stands at 9-1 after the 60-43 victory versus Baxter Springs on Tuesday and have won eight in a row. The Trojan girls captured the Class 4A, Division II championship in ’17 with a 24-1 record. Herlocker was the SIK All-Classes Coach of the Year delivering the first team state title to Girard in any sport, boys or girls. That year, Girard had Ashley Ray, an all-state pick and 4A-II POY from SIK, that now plays at Kansas State, Sydnee Crain, who earned 4A-II SIK POY the next season, who has played in 71 career games with Pittsburg State University, including eight starts this winter, plus All 4A-II pick Calea Augustin who went on to Neosho Community College to play. Neither Girard team is ranked by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association on Jan. 26 and we feel could be flying a little under the radar.
Girard is undefeated against Kansas squads. The Trojans lost their second game of the season, 54-50, to Carl Junction (Mo.).
Both teams won the Wilson County Classic in Fredonia. The girls faced Fredonia, Chetopa and Neodesha. Girard won 59-35, 71-20, and 58-40, respectively. Neodesha entered the contest with a 5-1 mark. Girard won its second straight Wilson County Classic. Girard’s key players include seniors Makaila Ausemus, Brooklyn Tallie and Jaada Valley, along with junior Kinley Smith. Junior Faith Poland has had some breakout games this season and put up some big games for the Trojans this season. Girard is deep and plays several players not relying on a star.
The boys opened the Wilson County Classic with a 59-23 win against Fredonia. Then, Girard was expected to face Chetopa, though the game was cancelled because of COVID-19 exposures. Girard quickly picked up Pittsburg.
Purple Dragon senior Javon Grant, who has averaged more than 30 points a contest this season, tied the game at the buzzer before Girard won it in overtime. Gabe Muia, Rigby Born and Brahm Born have been key players for Girard. Muia, who was out with injury last season, tallied 31 points against Pittsburg. Then, Girard went back to the Wilson County Classic last Friday and beat Neodesha, 77-53.
Craw-Kan would like to congratulate the Trojans for their outstanding play. Be on the lookout for Girard in the CNC and in their Class 3A sub-state.
Craw-Kan “Your Technology Partner" and Sports in Kansas will once again be in partnership over the 2020-2021 school year to release a "Craw-Kan Team of the Week" for the seventh consecutive season.
"I am looking forward to this partnership again for another year with Craw-Kan and highlighting teams from the SEK area to not only a local platform but also giving them statewide reach on our network, it's became quite the popular feature over the last six or seven years," said Sports in Kansas CEO, Chet Kuplen. "Not only does this help athletes and teams to be promoted for their achievements, it also lets the area know what all the new products that Craw-Kan has to offer, including new gigabit fiber now in the area. Also that Craw-Kan is now in Frontenac and Pittsburg. It's also going to several other areas in Southeast Kansas. We are also doing a Craw-Kan All-Access show this year with video of interviews with athletes that will feature reporter Bethany Bowman.”
"Craw-Kan offers all your technology needs in the area from internet to web design and cell phones to security systems." said Craw-Kan Marketing Manager, Zach Adams. "We have a lot of new products including the fastest internet in the area in the new gigabit fiber, we are also in Frontenac and Pittsburg with our service. We are very excited with all the new products we have to offer to the area."
Nominations will be accepted from every Friday-Sunday, with the "Craw-Kan Team of the Week" being released every Monday-Wednesday on Sports in Kansas (Kansas-Sports.com). Teams must be nominated via email or twitter.
Teams must be from the following leagues in the Southeast Kansas area to be eligible: SEK, CNC, TRL, plus Erie, Pittsburg and Parsons.
Craw-Kan and Sports in Kansas will also partner in releasing a "All Craw-Kan Team" for the Southeast Kansas area after postseason play has wrapped up.
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