By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
SIK looks at several of big wins from last week, previews multiple key matchups and notes several milestones that are in reach in the next few games. Mulvane’s Trey Abasolo is closing in on his school’s all-time scoring record, and Salina Central junior Aubrie Kierscht will likely reach 1,000 career points this week. As well, injury plagued Spearville girls continue to win, including a rare 10-assist line from sophomore point Taegan Pedigo. First, though, we start in Cheney and the return of senior point guard Lexi Cline:
3A: Cline back for Cheney
Cheney’s 5-foot-4 senior point guard Lexi Cline, known for her scrappy play and work ethic, might be Kansas’ most underrated basketball player. In the summer, Cline worked three jobs, including as a CNA, lifeguard and helping with yard work for her grandparents. In volleyball, Cline was arguably Class 3A’s top libero for the state-qualifying Cardinals.
She delivered 862 career digs, including 476 last fall. She finished fourth in Kansas in digs per set, per MaxPreps, and tops among 3A players. However, Cline did not pick up any all-state recognition. Of the 21 players named to the first, second and honorable mention 3A all-state teams by the Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association, none were liberos.
In basketball, she helped Cheney to a 3A Forever Four finish last winter. She delivered 5.8 points, 4.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 steals a contest. Entering this season, Cline, generally overlooked by area colleges, had delivered 191 assists and 124 steals against just 99 turnovers. Last winter, Cline finished eighth in Kansas in assist/turnover ratio, and first among 3A players.
“Being a point guard is a big role on your team, because you kind of have to facilitate the game and be a leader for all the younger kids, and so it’s definitely rewarding,” Cline told me in late summer.
This winter, Cheney has been ranked No. 1 in 3A all season and further crystallized the ranking with a Haven tournament championship victory against Halstead, then ranked No. 2 in 3A. However, Cline had missed all season because of collarbone injury. On Friday, Cline returned as the Cardinals rolled over struggling Douglass, 62-22. Twitter lit up, excited for Cline’s return and her all-around game of diving for balls, rebounding, passing and 3-point shooting.
Cline should improve a Cheney squad that is better across the board than the Forever Four team of last winter. After Douglass, Cheney stands at 14-0 and has won 25 in a row.
Class 3A is arguably the best of any Kansas girl classification with the Cardinals, Hugoton (13-0), Phillipsburg (13-1), Nemaha Central (15-0) and Osawatomie (13-1), among others. Hugoton stayed perfect after a 56-41 win versus Colby last Friday. Nemaha Central has captured 39 consecutive wins. Its last losses came against Cheney and Norton, respectively, in the 3A state semifinals and third place game in ’18-19.
Last season, the Cardinals averaged 57.5 possessions a contest with .998 points per possession and .631 points allowed a possession. The Cardinals turned the ball over on 19.5 percent of possessions (anything under 20 percent is elite). Plus, the Cardinals had 15.7 free throws per game and steals on 24.7 percent of possessions. Cheney collected 32 percent of available offensive rebounds.
This year, Cheney is playing at virtually the exact same rate with 57.8 possessions a contest before last Friday. The Cardinals are up to 1.09 points per possession with .60 points allowed a possession – both highly strong marks, especially offensively. Cheney is at just 17.4 percent turnover ratio. The Cardinals are up to 38 percent on offensive rebounds, 17.5 free throws a contest and steals on 27 percent of possessions.
Senior Kylee Scheer is at 24 points a game, and junior Brooklyn Wewe has stepped up with 7.7 points, 4.7 steals, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 steals. Junior Brynn McCormick, a first-year transfer from Scott City, is at 10.2 points per game. Cline’s return will likely make an already great team even better – and just in time for two big games this week. The Cardinals face Trinity Academy (8-5) on Tuesday and at rival Garden Plain (12-3) on Friday.
Trinity has Austin Broadie, a Washburn signing, and GP has finished state champion, state champion and Forever Four in the last three years. Trinity started 1-4, including a 67-57 home loss to Cheney on Dec. 15, though is 7-1 since.
Cheney defeated Garden Plain, 63-50, on Jan. 12. The Cardinals have won 10 in a row versus Trinity Academy and three straight versus Garden Plain. GP is ranked No. 4 in 2A. Senior Madysen Zoglman has 12.4 points a contest, and senior Alli Puetz has 10.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.
6A: BV North tops BV Northwest
BV North boys topped their rival BVNW 63-62 in OT on Friday snapping the Huskies 31-game winning streak. BV North led after the first, second and third quarters oin the contest. Northwest was ranked #1 in 6A while North #3 in 6A last week from the KBCA. Andrew Orr had 21 points for the Mustangs in the win.
5A: Maize boys continue roll with highly efficient offense
Last year, Maize boys finished 12-9, though had 74 percent of its scoring from non-seniors. The Eagles scored .99 points per possession and allowed .97 points a possession. Maize had turnovers on 26 percent of possessions. They shot 35 percent from beyond the arc. The Eagles took 34 percent of its shots from 3-point range.
This year, Maize is taking 33 percent of its shots from 3-point range. However, the Eagles are shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc. Maize is averaging an unbelievably efficient 1.16 points per possession. The Eagles have allowed .87 points per possession.
Hays High, Salina South and Maize are ranked first, second and third in Class 5A boys, respectively. Maize was supposed to play undefeated Salina South on Monday, but the game was postponed because of inclement weather.
South normally plays Hays High in the regular season, though not this winter. HHS and Salina South are in the same sub-state. Maize is also scheduled to play Salina South on Feb. 23. On Friday, Maize defeated Mulvane, 70-48. Mulvane is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. Maize shot 53 percent, including 12 of 25 (48 percent) from beyond the arc.
Senior Winston Bing lead Maize with 20 points. Senior Jacob Hanna and sophomore Avery Johnson tallied 12 points, and junior Kyle Grill scored 10. Grill, son of Maize coach Chris Grill, made national attention for a big recent dunk.
Overall, Maize is averaging 70 points a game. Hanna has averaged 14.4 points a game, Johnson is at 13.4 points and Grill has 12.1. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Johnson, who did not play varsity basketball as a freshman, has 4.9 rebounds, three assists and 2.2 steals per game. He has recently picked up a TCU football offer after a strong season as Maize’s quarterback.
5A: No. 1-ranked Andover Central girls continues with winning streak; faces Derby on Tuesday
Andover Central and Salina Central have enjoyed 5A’s top-two offenses among teams that have played double-digit games. On Dec. 17, Andover Central beat Salina Central, 60-52. The rematch occurred last Friday, and AC won, 66-56.
On Tuesday, Andover Central faces Derby (11-3). AC is 13-0 this season and has won 34 straight contests dating back to a 54-50 overtime loss to McPherson in the second game of last winter. Andover Central led Salina Central by one at halftime, and then pulled away in the second half.
Junior Ellie Stearns delivered 18 points, and junior Brittany Harshaw, a Creighton commit, delivered 17 points. Senior Bailey Wilborn, a Maine signee, tallied 16 points. Salina Central junior Aubrie Kierscht scored 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting. Kierscht averages 19.7 points per game and has 962 career points entering this week.
Last Friday, McPherson beat Derby, 38-36, with two late free throws from Lauren Labertew. McPherson is 6-1 against Derby since ’11, including back-to-back wins. On Saturday, Derby lost, 48-45, to Blue Valley North.
Overall, Andover Central is ranked No. 1 in 5A, Salina Central stands fourth in 5A. McPherson is third in 4A. Derby is fifth in 6A. Blue Valley North stands eighth in 6A.
This marks the first meeting with Andover Central and Derby since Feb. 23, 2018. Derby has won three straight after AC delivered five consecutive victories. Overall, Harshaw has averaged 19.3 points per contest. AC has averaged 1.16 points per possession and turnovers on just 16.7 percent of possessions. The Jaguars have averaged 57 possessions a game. Derby has continued to play without standout sophomore point guard Mary Archer, an Arkansas commit.
3A: Osawatomie continues big season; has the rematch with Anderson County
The Trojans have not posted a winning season since an 11-10 mark in 2011-12, according to MaxPreps archives. This year, with coach Beau Gadwood, a former all-conference tight end at Fort Hays, the Trojans have opened 13-1.
Senior Amiah Simmons, who has transferred back to Osawatomie, has continued to deliver a huge year and is among a deep class of potential 3A players of the year. She is now up to 32.2 points, 7.4 steals, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Simmons has signed to play at Division II Biola. Senior Allie Lagasse has averaged double figures, too. The Trojans lost, 61-60, to Anderson County on Dec. 17 and then won every game by double figures since, except for a 63-57 road victory against Wellsville last Friday. On Tuesday, Osawatomie has the rematch against Anderson County (10-2).
4A: Mulvane’s Abasolo closes in on school mark
Mulvane stands at 12-2 after the Maize loss and has at El Dorado on Tuesday and home against Rose Hill on Friday. The Friday contest will feature two of the state’s highest scorers with Mulvane’s Trey Abasolo and Rose Hill’s Adriel Smith. Abasolo has averaged 20.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.1 steals a game.
Abasolo has 1,333 points and stands 176 of 574 from 3-point range in his career. Abasolo has now surpassed Drew Ellis as the most 3-pointers made in Mulvane history. Ellis sunk 170 from 2015-19. Ellis holds Mulvane’s all-time scoring record with 1,382 career points. Abasolo has committed to NAIA Southwestern College.
2A: WaKeeney-Trego girls with overtime wins; Phillipsburg faces TMP on Friday
Trego improved to 12-3 and has won four in a row after a struggle during the midseason tournament. WaKeeney won at TMP, 39-32 in overtime, last Tuesday. On Friday, the Golden Eagles won at Ellis, 62-60, in double overtime. The Golden Eagles had lost, 47-40, to TMP in the midseason tournament. Trego is eighth in 2A.
Also in the Mid-Continent League, Phillipsburg girls improved to 13-1 and won its third in a row. The Panthers beat Smith Center, 65-41, on Jan. 29, and then Hill City, 58-27, last Friday. Phillipsburg plays host to TMP (11-3) on Friday. Phillipsburg is ranked sixth in 3A.
2A: Elkhart bounces back after slight upset loss to Stanton County
Elkhart girls are 14-2 and had only lost, 57-34, to Boise City (Okla.) on Jan. 15 before last week. On Tuesday, Elkhart fell to Stanton County, 49-43, on Tuesday. On Thursday and Friday, the Wildcats had back-to-back home games against Rolla and Syracuse and won, 55-12, and 42-41.
Elkhart had beaten Stanton County, 47-37, on Dec. 8. The Wildcats have already played Syracuse four times this winter. Against Syracuse, Elkhart shot 34 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range. Senior Chevelle Ralstin has averaged 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
2A: Spearville girls continue to win; defeat ranked Bucklin; Pedigo with unique stat line
Spearville, featured last week on Sports in Kansas, continued its success despite four players out with injuries. The Lancers have won four in a row and stand at 13-2 behind its elite defense and depth. Last week, Spearville defeated Satanta, 48-26, on Tuesday, then beat Kinsley, 44-23, on Friday.
On Saturday, Spearville held off Bucklin, 46-44. Sophomore Tessa Kuker led the Lancers with 13 points, and sophomore Kara Brakey tallied 10 points and 13 rebounds. Kuker continued to shoot exceptionally well with 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Spearville was 8 of 16 from 3-point range.
Sophomore point guard Taegan Pedigo, who like Cline, is excellent with assists, took just one shot and did not score against Bucklin. However, she finished with 10 assists, four steals and three rebounds. Pedigo has delivered 3.3 points, 5.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals a contest. Bucklin is ranked ninth in Class 1A, Division I after it won the Southern Plains Iroquois tournament.
1A-1: Burlingame girls ranked No. 5
Veteran Burlingame head football and track coach Jeff Slater has enjoyed success with the Bearcat girls’ basketball program this season. Burlingame is 12-2 this winter.
Burlingame is ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, Division I. The Bearcats have averaged 63 points per game. Junior Daelyn Winters and freshman Kaylin Noonan have delivered fine seasons. Seniors Emily Punches and Megan Giffin have been key contributors.
The Bearcats recently took third in the Lyon County League tournament. In the third place game, Winters scored 15 points and Noonan had 11.
1A-II: South Haven girls earn two wins against West Elk
On Jan. 23, South Haven beat West Elk, 41-29. Last Saturday, SH defeated West Elk, 33-30, on Saturday, though WE played without standout senior Madelyne Koop, a Tabor signee. Sophomore Katy Beeman delivered 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting for West Elk. Junior Macey Pond delivered 12 points for South Haven. The Cardinals moved to 8-5. Before then, South Haven had lost three in a row and was 1-7 in the last eight versus the Patriots.
Othere Notes Around the State:
Sharp Shooting Night for TMP
TMP boys hit 17 of 23 threes on Tuesday night in the dominating 90-30 win over Oakley as senior Jackson Schulte had 24 points in the contest. Schulte was a 3A POY Finalist last season from SIK
Galena boys feature two of best in 3A
Brett Sarwinski is one of the top point guards in 3A this season after earning all-state honors as a sophomore last March in leading Galena to the 3A Final Four before it was cancelled. Tyler Little, as a freshman last year, also earned all-state honors. Little and Sarwinski may form the best 1-2 punch in 3A boys basketball. Little stands 6-foot-6 and has had some monster games recently. He is one of the best multiple sport athletes in all classes of Kansas for the Class of 2023 and should see multiple FBS football looks come his way soon as a tight end and defensive end. The Bulldogs have won 12 games in a row and play in one of the toughest sub-states in the state this year that also features Frontenac, Riverton and 2019 3A champ Girard.
Garrison continues to dominate
Jayden Garrison is having a huge season as expected for Little River, no. 1 in 1A-I, as he is averaging 26.6 points per game in 2020-2021. He's also grabbing four rebounds, two assists and three steals per contest. Garrison led LR to the 8M-I title as a football player this fall in earning SIK 8M-I OPOY.
Small school sophomores putting together nice seasons
Sophomore Alec Carlson of Pawnee Heights in Rozel, Kansas has made th SIK pages this year for a high flying dunk but he's also putting together a solid scoring effort every night out with 24.5 points per game this season.
Britt Dutton of Ellinwood is averaging 23.3 points per game along with over four assists and nearly five rebounds per contest to go along with 2.2 steals.
Loudermilk having big year for West Elk, Hatten for Sedan.
Howard and Sedan are about 30 minutes from each other and have two of the top small school players in Kansas. Devin Loudermilk, who has signed with KU for track and field after going 6'9" in the high jump as a sophomore, is averaging 22.4 points per game and 7.2 rpg this season for West Elk. Dameion Hatten of Sedan is having a monster junior year in which he is averaing 21.9 ppg and 9.5 rpg.
Nijaree Canady and Kiki Smith continue big careers for Topeka High
The two of Topeka (#1 in 6A girls) continue to have big nights every time out as Canady has 20.6 ppg while Smith at 17.3 ppg. Canady is a junior and Smith just a sophomore. Topeka High has the pieces to compete for the 6A title.
Addy Brown having huge year for Derby in 6A
Brown is averaging 18.2 ppg while grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game for the Derby Panthers in 6A. The 6-foot-2 sophomore has her team ranked 5th in the state in 6A by the KBCA last week.
Catherine Bowman having solid year for Bucklin
Bowman went over 1,000 points earlier this season and is having a huge year with 20.8 ppg and 6.8 boards per contest for the Red Aces (11-3).
Tallon Retschler standout in multiple sports
The junior from Smith Center who had a dominating year in volleyball as a junior this fall is having a breakout year in basketball this winter for SC with 17.1 ppg, 7 rebounds per game and four steals per contest. She has great length at 6-foot-0.
Carrillo steps up for Liberal
After losing the two 6A Co-POYs Machia Mullens and Katie Horyna many thought production could be down from a scoring perspective at Liberal. Ashley Carrillo has stepped up big as a junior in leading Liberal to an 11-3 mark with over 17 ppg, along with three boards, three steals and over two assists per contest.
Tessa Hauser is a double-double machine
Hauser, who went over 1,000 points recently for Norton, is averaing 15.4 points per game along with 9.8 rebounds per game. She has 10 double-doubles this season for the Bluejays. Kayler Getz of Quinter also joins Hauser in that category, also having 10 double-doubles this season. Nijaree Canady of Topeka has eight along with Courtney Stone of Santa Fe Trail who also has eight.
Newfarmer leads Kansas in assists
Jaden Newfarmer of Andover Central may not always appear in the headlines of the D1 signees that AC has or will have but she's the floor general and has picked up 6.3 assists per contest this season. Between Newfarmer's 6.3 assists and the dead eye (42%) shooting from Bailey Wilborn they are two of the main stats that fly under the radar despite being two of the best stats in the state. Taegan Pedigo is averaging 5.6 assists per game this season for Spearville while Traci Cramer of Dighton is at 5.3, Amiah Simmons of Osawatomie at 6.2, Kori Babcock of Chanute (4.7) and Megan Beier of Linn (4.7)
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