Multiple small schools form a co-operative agreement in football to increase numbers and create a more competitive team. Several programs, notably Centralia-Wetmore, Madison-Hamilton and Argonia-Attica, have yielded state championships and state runner-ups with the agreements.
Others, such as Logan-Palco and Triplains-Brewster, have significantly improved their play as two schools and had records well above .500.
However, fewer have a co-operative agreement in basketball. Logan and Palco are separate in the winter. Wetmore and Centralia have their own programs. Argonia and Attica split, too.
Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton Catholic is a well-known co-op in football and basketball, including recent titles in boys’ and girls’ basketball.
However, BSJT keeps the Blujay nickname – the mascot for St. John’s – and the majority of home games are in Beloit. (Tipton is the Cardinals and has not had its own basketball team since 2009-10).
Triplains-Brewster remains joined in basketball as the Titans and combines Triplains’ blue and Brewster’s brown into the co-op uniforms.
While both T-B boys’ and girls’ basketball teams have reached sub-state title games, neither one has achieved a state berth. Miltonvale and Glasco have long formed Southern Cloud in football and basketball but have had, at best, modest records.
Rural Vista, though, stands unique among the co-ops with a new nickname, an agreement in the fall and winter. RV has plenty of success in multiple sports, especially with the current group of girls, led by senior Lauren Campuzano.
Rural Vista was formed between Hope and White City. RV’s nickname is Heat with red and orange colors – the red from White City’s Huskies and the orange from Hope’s Lions.
Rural Vista girls’ basketball had just one senior in 2016-17 and none last season but went a combined 34-11 and earned trips to the Class 1A, Division I state tournament both winters. Last season, RV took a close first-round state loss to Thunder Ridge.
This winter, in highly competitive Class 1A, the Heat are ranked eighth and opened 6-0. Class 1A has returned to just one division for the first time since 2010 and features more than 100 teams and some of the best players regardless of class.
“I knew that it was going to be a lot tougher, but it kind of shows just how good of a ball team you are when you compare yourselves,” Campuzano said.
Seniors Campuzano, Jessyka Barten and Jordyn Sanford have been key players since their freshmen years.
Juniors Hannah Riedy and Holly Brockmeier have seen significant time since they were freshmen. The quintet are RV’s five starters. Campuzano is the tallest at 5-9.
“It’s been really good, because there’s athletes from both schools, and it just makes us a better team together,” Campuzano said.
Separately, Hope girls basketball has five all-time state appearances with ’02 and ’13 the most recent. White City had one, in ’78, according to Kansas historian Carol Swenson.
“Sophomore year, we were pretty shocked when we won,” Barten said. “Like, I cried when we won sub-state, I was so happy, but I think we were definitely more prepared the second go-around, and that resulted in a closer game. But hopefully we can make it back this year and take a win in the first round, that way we can show how much time we’ve put in.”
Campuzano averaged 19.4 points a game last season and cleared 1,000 career points earlier this winter. White City and Hope are located 25 miles apart on Hwy 4. Some students, notably Barten, live in Woodbine, located between the towns.
“Our atmosphere is different because our team is from two schools,” Campuzano said. “Combining was a huge change for Hope and White City, but we have made it work. Before we combined, Hope High School and White City High School were rivals. It is amazing to see the support from both communities coming together for our sports.”
Coach Kane Hansley graduated from Alma-Wabaunsee and Emporia State and his first job was Rural Vista junior high girls’ basketball coach six years ago, the first year of the co-operative agreement. Hensley coached the junior high two years and then moved up to high school.
At first, the co-op occurred because of low numbers in the girls’ programs. Neither Hope or White City had enough players to support basketball or volleyball. Now, it’s reversed. Neither boys sport could have its own team. The girls have 21 out for basketball with 13 from White City.
“I am not from either town,” Hensley said. “So I really didn’t care who was what. But at first, we kind of fought ‘Well, you’ve got more Hope girls playing, or you have got more White City girls playing.’ But as the years have gone on, you don’t even notice a difference out there.”
Hope had a long history of football success under now retired coach Jeff Hostetter. RV, which first created a junior high football partnership, has had varying degrees of football success with records of 5-4, 7-3, 5-4, 4-5 and 1-8 since the co-op.
“It does bring a lot more work for people,” Hostetter, a Hope graduate, said in 2014. “You’ve got to travel, and it makes it a lot tougher. It’s tougher as a coach to try to get that chemistry when you are that far away, and when you try to get together and do stuff. If everybody works hard at it, I think it’s going to be for the best.”
Boys’ basketball also enjoyed a state tournament appearance in 2017, though took a big loss to eventual champion Hanover in the first round.
Since the co-op, boys basketball is 18-4, 8-13, 11-10, 16-7, 12-10 and 4-2 this season. Lauren’s brother, Cameron, a sophomore, is one of the state’s top assist leaders with 8.2 a game. He also paces RV with 8.8 rebounds and is third with 11.2 points a contest.
Volleyball has four winning seasons in six years of the co-op, including 28-8 and 35-5 the past two falls with Riedy as a second team all-state setter and Brockmeier and Campuzano as the top-two hitters this fall.
“Our parents are sitting together,” Hensley said. “Our parents are working together. The kids, you don’t even know who is from Hope and White City. The boys and girls are dating each other from both schools.”
The Campuzanos attend White City, while Barten goes to Hope. Logistics for practice can be unique. The program tries to split home games and practices between the schools. A bus takes the players from White City to Hope for practice and vice versa.
Barten said the team has “lot of trust in one another” and Hensley labeled the team “real, real hard workers,” especially with practicing on their own, summer work and powerlifting.
“They show up every single day ready to work, and they give you 100 percent,” Hensley said.
Hope was state runner-up in powerlifting last spring, and Brockmeier won her second straight state title. The girls played together in a Salina summer league, and Campuzano also was on the Midwest Elevation squad.
“Definitely the period of time that we have played together has had a large impact on our success,” Barten said. “I think our team bond has a lot to do with it, but we also put a lot of trust in one another. It was certainly interesting at first.”
“We actually started out rivals, so coming together seemed difficult at the time, but once we got to know each other, I think it started to go together better,” she added.
Campuzano, a 4.0 student who would like to become a vet, comes from an athletic family. Her older sister Alexis was a multi-sport standout and played softball at Allen County Community College.
Campuzano has received interest from multiple schools, especially Cloud County Community College. The Campuzanos live about 10 minutes outside of White City, and the siblings have often played ball outside or headed to the gym.
“My role model is most likely my sister,” Lauren said. “Going into high school, she set a high standard for sports. I strive to beat all of her school records.”
As a freshman, Campuzano averaged 8.5 points and nine rebounds a contest. As a sophomore, she delivered 14.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. Last year, she upped her numbers to 19.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. Campuzano has moved out to guard and significantly improved her 3-point shooting.
Her freshman year, Campuzano missed her lone 3-point attempt. As a sophomore, she was 19 of 86 (22 percent). Last winter, she delivered 45 of 133 (34 percent).
She was second team all-state as a sophomore, and first team all-state last winter.
This year, she averages 17 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and three steals a game. RV has captured every game by double figures, won the Herington tournament and has already picked up two key Wheat State League road wins.
On Dec. 14, the Heat won at Little River, 58-28, and then at Solomon, 49-25, on Dec. 18.
RV had lost to LR in volleyball and basketball last year.
On Jan. 4, RV plays defending WSL champion Goessel at home. RV has not won the league either of the last two seasons and has a goal to capture the crown. RV is 1-5 all-time versus Goessel.
“Her never-die attitude,” Hensley said. “She is kind of a bulldog out there. She knows she is going to score, and she is going to get it. Every time you walk by the gym, you know who is in there shooting, and it’s Lauren. Ever since we kind of moved her out to the guard, she has worked on her outside game.”
Her supporting cast has helped, too. Sanford is an excellent shooter, while Barten is the point guard and well known for her defense and ball handling. Riedy plays both guard and forward. Brockmeier is known for her strength and jumping ability and is an excellent rebounder.
“We still have all the same people,” Barten said. “But I think over the summer, we kind of grew as individuals and coming back with some seniority and upperclassmen this year, we have stronger leadership and a little bit more experience.”
This feature is presented by The Prairie Post, proud to support the Rural Vista Heat and Lauren Campuzano.
How did you get involved in basketball?
I got involved in basketball starting in 3rd grade with our local YMCA team. I continued to play YMCA and other local teams up until 6th grade. Then I began to play school basketball.
What are your goals this season?
Some of my goals this season for my team are to win our league title and also make it to state. An individual goal I have is to improve my 3 point goal percentage.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
I definitely think we have a shot to make a run this year. We did not lose any players and have came back stronger I believe. We may not have height, but we make it work.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I can shoot the 3, but also drive the ball in. I also try my hardest to rebound every ball.
What’s the atmosphere like to play basketball for your school and town?
Our atmosphere is different because our team is from two schools. Combining was a huge change for Hope and White City, but we have made it work. Before we combined, Hope High School and White City High School were rivals. It is amazing to see the support from both communities coming together for our sports.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
I think that when watching our team, you will notice how we try to push the ball up the court. We also share the ball well and always try to have a great shot over a good shot.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
Some of my strengths are shooting the 3 and rebounding hard. I can also work the post if needed when there is a mix-match. Something I need to improve on is my ball handling.
Who are other key players on your team?
The other key players on my team would be the other 4 on the starting five. Jessyka Barten is our point guard and handles the ball well. Holly Brockmeier is our post and is one of our key rebounders. Jordyn Sanford is the other guard and shoots the 3 well for my team. Lastly, Hannah Riedy plays both post and guard making a pretty versatile player.
Favorite thing about basketball?
My favorite thing about basketball is the adrenaline that comes with it. It is such a fast paced game that you don't have time to pout after you mess up, you just keep going.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
Other sports that I play are volleyball, track, and I played travel softball up until this summer. In volleyball, I am the middle hitter and also play back row. In track, I throw javelin and have done triple jump and long jump. In softball, I used to play first base and sometimes outfield. I decided to focus on basketball this summer and play for a travel team.
What is it like to play for your coach?
My coach guides us in the right direction to succeed. Our practices are challenging and fun. We know how to laugh in practice, but also make sure to stay on track.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
In the off season I played for Midwest Elevation during the summer. As a team we played in the Salina Summer league once a week. We also had a team camp and open gyms.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I am seeing some interests from colleges. My plan is to get my bachelor's in animal science/pre-vet and then apply to K-state for Vet- school.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
My favorite thing to do when I'm not playing sports is to play with my pets at home or go and job shadow a veterinarian. I love learning new things about animals.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years I see myself hopefully owning my own veterinary practice close to home and practicing on big and small animals.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is probably math. I have a 4.0 GPA
Who is your role model?
My role model is most likely my sister. Going into highschool, she set a high standard for sports. I strive to beat all of her school records.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
The best place to eat in my town is the bar and grill. It is the only place to sit down and eat. We can always get food from the gas station too, which I think is good for a quick snack.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I cannot think of anything. I am an open book.
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