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Sports in Kansas:2021 Girls Basketball Coach of the Year

Rod Scheer earned All-Classes & 3A Coach of the Year in Kansas. (Jean Nance)
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Mar 24, 2021

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Congratulations to the 2021 Sports in Kansas Girls Basketball Coach of the Year Honorees. Coverage is powered by Mammoth Sports Construction, American Implement, Nex-Tech Wireless, Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE), Labette Community College. Voting for Coach of the Year is done by a statewide media panel of over 25 members in the media from every part of the state. Conor Nicholl and Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas finalize the selections after counting votes and input around the state. 

2021 Sports in Kansas Girls Basketball Coach of the Year Honors. Full list of Finalists at the bottom of article.

Sports in Kansas All-Classes (1A-6A) Coach of the Year - Rod Scheer, Cheney (3A)

Cheney was the No. 1 team in Class 3A since last summer. The Cardinals returned just shy of 100 percent of their scoring from last winter and added junior Brynn McCormick, a transfer from Scott City. McCormick was a standout for SC, and her mom, Sarah, is a Cheney alum and coached Scott City. Coach Rod Scheer led the Cardinals, with high expectations, to a 25-0 mark and state title in the state’s deepest class. He was the assistant in 2010 when Cheney finished 26-0 and won its lone other girls’ basketball title.

Scheer coached his oldest daughter, Payton, in 2010, and youngest, Kylee, the last four years. Cheney’s close-knit group of juniors and seniors had multiple high finishes in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and finally broke through to win its first team title. The Cardinals lost in the title game in overtime two years ago and were a 3A Forever Four squad last winter. Coach Scheer navigated a challenging schedule, including two wins against Halstead, considered the second-best 3A team the majority of the winter.

As well, senior Lexi Cline played in just the season’s final 12 games after she suffered a preseason injury. McCormick averaged 11.1 points per game, second to Kylee’s 22.7. Junior Brooklyn Wewe (6.9 points, 4.1 steals, 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds) and sophomore Campbell Hague (4.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) were among those that stepped up. Cline and Kylee Scheer were the lone two seniors who logged significant minutes. Sarah McCormick and Todd Hague served as the assistants.

Cheney finished 2-0 versus Halstead, 2-0 against Garden Plain, 3-0 against Trinity Academy, defeated Eureka, 55-51, in the sub-state title game, and bested Andale, a 4A Final Four team. The Cardinals beat Halstead, 57-47, to win the Haven tournament on Jan. 30, and 51-50 in double overtime in the state quarterfinals.

Those five teams went 90-16 in all other games. Overall, Cheney averaged 1.05 points per possession, permitted .598 and turned the ball over just 17.3 percent of the time, all elite rates. Last season, the Cardinals averaged .998 points per possession, permitted .631 points per possession and turned the ball over 19.5 percent of the time.Scheer, a Cheney native, was a former collegiate head coach at both Newman and Neosho Community College before his time as an assistant and head coach at Cheney.

Sports in Kansas 6A Coach of the Year – Tyler Stewart, Shawnee Mission Northwest

Tyler Stewart led Shawnee Mission Northwest to a 23-0 mark, the first girls’ basketball state title in program history and the consensus best team in Kansas this winter. This marked Stewart’s second title after he captured the 3A crown with Silver Lake in 2012. Per Kansas historian Carol Swenson, Stewart is the third head coach in state annals to win a girls’ basketball title at multiple schools. Becky Carson won with Hillsboro in 1995-96 and with Iola in 2006. As well, Andy Gillen won with South Gray in 2010, and Hugoton in ’15 and ’17.

Stewart has coached Northwest seven years and reached state six times. He is 128-38 with Northwest with three seasons of 20-plus victories. Last season, the Cougars went 18-6 and captured the McPherson tournament. Northwest was the only team to beat McPherson last winter. Overall, Northwest averaged 46.6 points a game and allowed 36.7 in a 15-5 regular season. This year, Northwest had an average score of 52.5-35.1.

The Cougars won the Sunflower League for the first time since 2015.

Northwest featured 6-foot-2 senior post Kennedy Taylor, a Colorado signing, 6A Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year finalist. Northwest beat Blue Valley, 36-29, in the state quarterfinals and held off Olathe West, 59-45, in the semifinals. In the championship, Northwest beat Topeka High, 61-54. Topeka High was state runner-up in ’19 and undefeated Forever Four in ’20. In late January, Northwest beat Bishop Miege, 65-60, the Stags’ lone loss to a Kansas team in the last three years.

Stewart was Sunflower League Coach of the Year, and Taylor picked up Sunflower League Player of the Year. Tamara Harris-Webster was second team, and Kylie Dunn was third team and Sunflower League Defensive Player of the Year. Dunn has committed to Bethany College basketball.

Sage Grampsas, who tallied 25 points in the state title game, was third team, too. Ella Mackewiecz and Erica Ojeda earned honorable mention. Last year, Taylor was first team all-league, Harris-Webster second team, and Grampsas and Dunn with honorable mention. Northwest limited Topeka High to 35 percent shooting in the final. Stewart’s assistants were B.J. Dunbar, Julius Dunn, Brooklyn Wagler and Elissa Ojeda.

Sports in Kansas 5A Coach of the Year – Rick Hetzel, St. Thomas Aquinas

Longtime St. Thomas Aquinas coach Rick Hetzel improved to 9-6 all-time in state finals, all since 2000. Aquinas’ nine titles are tied with McPherson for second-most all-time. Aquinas has now won five consecutive titles from ’16-19, a Forever Four showing last winter and the title this winter. Aquinas has reached state 27 consecutive years, by far the state record. The Saints won titles in ’01, ’04, ’11, ’13, ’16-19 and this year. Aquinas finished 20-2. The Saints lost twice to rival Bishop Miege by a combined 11 points.

Aquinas, long known for its defense, continued to grind teams down at the state tournament. In the state quarterfinals, the Saints rolled over St. James Academy, 61-31. In the semifinals, Aquinas beat Lansing, 64-44. In the championship, Aquinas beat previously undefeated Andover Central, 52-44.

Among teams that played a full season, AC was the state’s No. 1 offense throughout the year. Aquinas held AC to 24 percent shooting in the first half and led 44-29 after three quarters. Andover Central had by far a season low for points. Its previous low was 54. Aquinas’ victory ended the Jaguars’ 45-game winning streak, second-best in Kansas behind Olpe girls.

Aquinas has waves of talent, including junior forward Beatrice Culliton and senior point guard Madison Skelton. The 6-foot-3 Culliton, the 5A Player of the Year, has 23 Division I offers. Skelton has signed with Emporia State. Junior Charlotte O’Keefe, sophomore Cat Goodwin, Tatum Grimes and freshman Jamya McPherson were among the key players. Grimes, a highly touted freshman, helped Aquinas to a 29-2 record and 5A volleyball crown last fall.

Aquinas is known for its methodical pace and averaged 49.7 possessions per game – Andover Central was at 55.9 possessions a contest. The Saints shot 53 percent on two-point shots and 35 percent on treys, averaged 1.01 points per possession. Aquinas permitted under .7 points per possession, both elite marks. Aquinas assistant coach Bob Harbour has served more than 20 years with the Saints. First-year assistant coach Samantha Paradise-O’Malley played on Aquinas’ first state title team and has been a head coach before, notably St. James Academy girls.

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St. Thomas Aquinas High School and athletic department would like to congratulate head coach Rick Hetzel on his 5A coach of the year honor from Sports in Kansas and state championship. 

Sports in Kansas 4A Coach of the Year – Terry English, Bishop Miege

Coach Terry English cleared 900 career wins for Bishop Miege this winter and announced his retirement after the Class 4A championship victory versus McPherson. English, the only coach in the 45-year history of Bishop Miege girls’ basketball, finished 22-6 all-time in state finals, including a 51-36 win versus McPherson in the state title. He went to state 38 times. The Stags have all-time state marks for championships won, title games reached and all-time state appearances. Miege was 23-1 this winter.

Miege lost one game to a Kansas opponent in the last three years, a regular season defeat to Shawnee Mission Northwest this January. Miege had senior Payton Verhulst, a McDonald’s All-American, along with standouts Emajin McCallop and Gabi Henderson-Artis. English finished with a 910-168 career record. He is second to Olpe’s Jesse Nelson on the all-time wins list.

English was a 1968 graduate of Bishop Miege. His son, Jeff, has served as the longtime assistant. This winter, Miege was the lone squad to beat St. Thomas Aquinas and twice defeated the rival Saints. English, 70, always had success with Miege. He reached the finals in his first year, and then defeated McPherson in the finals in his second season.

Sports in Kansas 3A Coach of the Year – Rod Scheer, Cheney

Cheney was the No. 1 team in Class 3A since last summer. The Cardinals returned just shy of 100 percent of their scoring from last winter and added junior Brynn McCormick, a transfer from Scott City. McCormick was a standout for SC, and her mom, Sarah, is a Cheney alum and coached Scott City. Coach Rod Scheer led the Cardinals, with high expectations, to a 25-0 mark and state title in the state’s deepest class. He was the assistant in 2010 when Cheney finished 26-0 and won its lone other girls’ basketball title.

Scheer coached his oldest daughter, Payton, in 2010, and youngest, Kylee, the last four years. Cheney’s close-knit group of juniors and seniors had multiple high finishes in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and finally broke through to win its first team title. The Cardinals lost in the title game in overtime two years ago and were a 3A Forever Four squad last winter. Coach Scheer navigated a challenging schedule, including two wins against Halstead, considered the second-best 3A team the majority of the winter.

As well, senior Lexi Cline played in just the season’s final 12 games after she suffered a preseason injury. McCormick averaged 11.1 points per game, second to Kylee’s 22.7. Junior Brooklyn Wewe (6.9 points, 4.1 steals, 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds) and sophomore Campbell Hague (4.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) were among those that stepped up. Cline and Kylee Scheer were the lone two seniors who logged significant minutes. Sarah McCormick and Todd Hague served as the assistants.

Cheney finished 2-0 versus Halstead, 2-0 against Garden Plain, 3-0 against Trinity Academy, defeated Eureka, 55-51, in the sub-state title game, and bested Andale, a 4A Final Four team. The Cardinals beat Halstead, 57-47, to win the Haven tournament on Jan. 30, and 51-50 in double overtime in the state quarterfinals.

Those five teams went 90-16 in all other games. Overall, Cheney averaged 1.05 points per possession, permitted .598 and turned the ball over just 17.3 percent of the time, all elite rates. Last season, the Cardinals averaged .998 points per possession, permitted .631 points per possession and turned the ball over 19.5 percent of the time.Scheer, a Cheney native, was a former collegiate head coach at both Newman and Neosho Community College before his time as an assistant and head coach at Cheney. 

Sports in Kansas 2A Coach of the Year – Jill Rowland, Sterling/Abby Farabi, Pittsburg Colgan

Sterling defeated Pittsburg Colgan, 52-36, and finished 25-1 under longtime successful coach Jill Rowland. The Black Bears captured the first girls’ state championship in school history.

Sterling was ranked No. 1 in 2A all season. Rowland shares the award with Colgan’s Abby Farabi.  Colgan was 0-13 all-time in state tournament games before this winter. The Panthers, which primarily play 3/4A schools, were never ranked all winter. Rowland stands at 241-103 overall, and 221-81 at Sterling. She has coached Sterling for 13 years and a head coach for 15 years, including two at Concordia. Sterling has won the Heart of America the last four years.

Rowland has led Sterling to five state appearances in the last nine seasons, including second in ’19 and state quarterfinals in ’20. Sterling played without senior Kayla Morris all season, a former all-conference pick. She suffered a knee injury in the fall. The Black Bears’ core is its junior class with Kali Briar, Sadie Beagley, Bennie Horsch and Makenna Linden.

Sterling had a more difficult road than normal for a No. 1-ranked team. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sterling had to face 20-win WaKeeney-Trego in the state quarterfinals at home. Under normal seeding, both would have been a top-three seed. Trego has four players who have all played at least 72 varsity games. Sterling defeated Trego, 57-43.

In the semifinals, Sterling had to get past the Garden Plain hurdle. GP was 3A state champion, 2A state champion and 2A Forever Four the last three years. That included a 2A title game win versus Sterling in ’19. This time, Sterling won 69-52. The Black Bears had lost four in a row to Garden Plain dating back to ’17.

Farabi, without a 2A Player of the Year finalist, led Colgan to its first two state tournament wins. Farabi, a Frontenac graduate, paced the Panthers to a 19-4 record, including a 40-38 win against Valley Heights on a last-second shot from freshman Lily Brown in the state semifinals. Farabi helped 6-foot-1 sophomore Lauren Torrance emerge as a unanimous first team all-league player. Plus, Farabi plugged Brown into the starting lineup in midseason, a move that reshaped Colgan’s season. She received key seasons from junior Lauren Yaghmour, along with seniors Kaitlin Crossland and Riley Root.

Sports in Kansas 1A, Division I Coach of the Year – Jesse Nelson, Olpe

Olpe’s Jesse Nelson is the state’s all-time winningest coach with a 949-111 career record in 44 years with the Eagles. He has captured four state titles, in ’81, ’10, ’11 and a 25-0 mark this winter. Olpe also went 26-0 and was a Forever Four team last season. Nelson and longtime assistant coach Carolyn Davis led Olpe to a dominant run behind six seniors: Macy Smith, Camille Steffes, Marley Heins, Hattie Fisher, Maya Bishop and Lauryn Broyles. The group went 120-2 in junior high and high school combined.

Smith, Heins and Bishop were all classification POY finalists. Olpe allowed just 73 points in the three state games, the all-time all-classes record, per Kansas historians Brett Marshall and Carol Swenson. The next best was 5A Mill Valley’s 82 permitted in a runner-up season in 2013. Olpe captured every game against a KSHSAA affiliated team by at least 16 points and was No. 1 ranked all season.

While Olpe paced the classification, 1A-I had a lot of great coaching. Among the SIK COY finalists, Doniphan West’s Perry Smith and Hodgeman County’s Trent Bright each led their teams to the best finish in school history. Longtime Norwich coach Mike Klaver believed his team overachieved in a state runner-up showing. South Central coach Tim Rietzke exceeded 800 career wins took the T-Wolves to state with less than 10 players on the entire roster. Burlingame, with coach Jeff Slater, went 19-1 in non-Olpe games. Quinter had a plus-11 win improvement with Matt Havlas.

Sports in Kansas 1A, Division II Coach of the Year – Pat Stiles, Central Plains

Central Plains had its all-time Kansas state record 138-game winning streak end against Phillipsburg in the Amos Morris tournament in Russell in December. CP lost to eventual 2A champion Sterling and to 3A Hesston. However, the Oilers remained the Class 1A, Division II state favorite throughout the winter and finished 23-3. Central Plains won six straight titles from ’14-19, was the 1A Forever Four and heavy favorite last winter and captured again this winter with coach Pat Stiles and assistant Jim Ryan.

Central Plains graduated its four starters from last winter, including Emily Ryan, the three-time SIK Player of the Year and Iowa State’s starting point guard this winter. The Oilers were expected to have big seasons from junior Kassidy Nixon, sophomore Brynna Hammeke, and seniors Jennah Jeffrey and Lexi Oeser. Hammeke, expected to be a breakout player, was unanimous first team all-Central Prairie League. Hammeke and St. John junior Darby Smith were the lone unanimous players.

Nixon was first team, and Jeffrey and Oeser both picked up third team. Coach Stiles has long talked about CP’s awesome culture and that has helped the Oilers go back-to-back in volleyball and basketball titles the last two seasons. Nixon and Oeser were key parts of both squads. Stiles has spent more than 30 years in various roles in Claflin. He stands at 234-7 as the Oiler girls’ basketball coach.

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Congrats to all finalists from the 2020-2021 season.

Sports in Kansas 6A Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Hannah Alexander, Topeka

Kelley Snodgrass, Dodge City

Tyler Stewart, Shawnee Mission Northwest

Jodie Karsak, Derby

Rick Rhoades, Olathe West

Kevin Bordewick, Washburn Rural

Sports in Kansas 5A Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Stana Jefferson, Andover Central

Jerrod Handy, Maize

Rick Hetzel, Aquinas

KC Simmons, Lansing

Chris Fear, Salina Central

Sports in Kansas 4A Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Chris Strathman, McPherson

Terry English, Bishop Miege

Jeff Edwards, Clay Center

Adrianne Lane, Louisburg

Kristi Snider, Labette Co.

Ted Anderson, Andale 

Casey Carlson, Clearwater

Sports in Kansas 3A Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Derek Schutte, Halstead

Emmanuel Adigun, Hugoton

Rachel Miller, Phillipsburg

Nate Baumann, Sabetha

Rod Scheer, Cheney

Hadden Hiltgen, Nemaha Central

Scott Fields, Frontenac

Beau Gadwood, Osawatomie 

Kyle Porter, Silver Lake 

Sports in Kansas 2A Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Jill Rowland, Sterling

Jordan Broxterman, Valley Heights

Abby Farabi, Colgan

Todd Cossman, Spearville

Shelby Crawford, Trego

Kody Kasselman, Garden Plain

Sports in Kansas 1A-I Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Mike Klaver, Norwich

Jesse Nelson, Olpe

Trent Bright, Hodgeman Co.

Perry Smith, Doniphan West

Jeff Slater, Burlingame

Brent Clark, Little River 

Tim Rietzke, South Central

Matt Havlas, Quinter

Sports in Kansas 1A-II Girls Coach of the Year Finalists

Eric Meyers, Cunningham

Pat Stiles, Central Plains

Adam Maas, Wetmore 

Parker Christiansen, Golden Plains

Leah Bergmann, Beloit St. Johns Tipton

Doug Tuck, St. Paul


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