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Basketball in Kansas: Around the State Update (1/18/21)

Dwight Roper went over 500 career wins last week for Haven.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Jan 18, 2021

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By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas

This week yields a high number of midseason basketball tournaments. That includes high-profile ones such as the Dodge City Tournament of Champions, McPherson Invitational, Mid-Continent League, Hoisington Winter Jam, Topeka Invitational, Sterling, Colby, Hillsboro and Tonganoxie. Last week, delivered multiple milestones, 1,000-point career scorers, top performances, buzzer-beaters and the end to Liberal girls’ and Andover boys’ winning streaks. Plus, significant news (both good and bad) among the top-4 girls’ teams in Class 2A. Any milestones or notes you think we should know about can be sent to sportsinkansas@gmail.com or tweet @sportsinkansas 

We start this week, though, in Haven:

3A: Haven girls’ Roper wins 500th

In 2018, Haven girls posted an historical season for coach Dwight Roper. On Feb. 1, longtime assistant David Chamberlain passed away in a car accident at 51. Haven went 21-4 and a Class 3A third place state showing, the program’s top finish since 1975. In the semifinals, Haven lost, 43-38, to eventual state champion Garden Plain. Haven has three all-time final four showings: ’74, ’75 and ’18.

“Haven, God bless them,” Garden Plain coach Kody Kasselman told me after the tournament. “If you don’t like Dwight Roper, you don’t like people.”

While there are many, many great coaches and athletes in Kansas, few have the universal respect of coach Roper and his family.

Roper took over Haven girls’ basketball in 1996 and won his 500th career game last Tuesday with a 50-19 victory versus Larned. He captured his 400th victory on Jan. 17, 2015. I have had the opportunity to talk with coach on several occasions, both regarding basketball and football. Other than ’74-75, Haven has reached four state tournaments: ’97, 2011, ’16 and ’18, according to historian Carol Swenson.

Roper, from Oklahoma, has three children with his wife, Kristi. Their oldest daughter, Arie, earned selection for the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association all-classes all-star team in 2019. She played on the White team and was one of 24 players selected in Kansas.

Their son, Darby, enjoyed a breakout season this fall and led Haven to an 8-3 record. It marked Haven’s first winning season since 2001 and the first time the Wildcats had won two playoff games in a single season in school history.

Darby collected SIK 2A Defensive Player of the Year and has committed to Hutchinson Community College for football. He is a starting guard for a Haven squad that advanced to the 3A state tournament last winter and opened 7-1 this year.

This fall, Haven co-head football coach Drew Thalmann and I discussed the Wildcats for a couple SIK stories. The week that we talked, coach Thalmann and coach Roper went golfing.

“I said, ‘If my son grows up to be like Darby, I will be a lucky individual,’” Thalmann said.

Currently, the Roper’s youngest, Reese, is a junior and three-sport athlete. In the fall, she had the top winning percentage in the regular season for Haven tennis. She has served as a key player for Haven basketball.

Haven graduated Faith Paramore, a Division I Oral Roberts signing from a 19-4 squad. The Wildcats are off to a 5-4 start, though the losses have come against Sterling, Nickerson, Central Plains and Halstead, all teams ranked in the top-three of a classification. The Wildcats have not been under .500 since a 10-11 season in ’09-10. Since then, the Wildcats have recorded at least 18 wins five times.

Haven has five seniors who are returning letterwinners: Maguire Estill, Brooke Brawner, Carlee Arnold, Cassidy and Lexi Smith. Estill has committed to University of Arkansas-Monticello for softball. Earlier this winter, Reese Roper and Estill were selected to the Kingman Eagle Classic All-tournament team.

2A Girls: Plenty of news among the top-four teams – Sterling’s Rowland with another win against Central Plains

No. 1 Sterling is 9-0 and has taken over the top spot from Class 3A Hugoton in the MaxPreps all-class statistical rankings. Sterling plays host to the annual Sterling tournament this week and could see Hugoton. Last year, Hugoton defeated Sterling in the tournament.

Last Tuesday, Sterling defeated Central Plains, 59-46. CP is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, Division II. This marked Central Plains’ second loss of the year after its state record 138-game winning streak. Legendary coach Pat Stiles has six losses leading the Oilers – three have come against Rowland.

In ’13, Stiles’ first season with Central Plains, Sterling twice defeated the Oilers, including once in sub-state. That marks the last postseason loss for Central Plains. The teams did not play from ’13 to ’19 before CP won by 35 and 38 points the last two seasons.

No. 2 Spearville improved to 8-0 and pushed its winning streak to 32 games. The Lancers beat Pawnee Heights, 54-35, on Friday, though played its first game without senior Alissa Heskamp, who cleared 1,000 career points earlier this week. SIK has learned that Heskamp has suffered a significant knee injury and is out for an extended time. Heskamp has led the state in scoring part of the year.

A two-time all-state libero, Heskamp has delivered 25.6 points, 5.7 points, four steals and 2.7 assists a contest in basketball. Senior Addia Nau, who overcame some knee problems earlier in the year, is the team’s second-leading scorer with 10.1 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.

No. 3 Garden Plain fell, 63-50, to Cheney (No. 1 3A) last Tuesday in a highlighted Central Plains League contest. GP/Cheney was highlighted last week by SIK. Cheney outscored Garden Plain by three in each of the first and second quarters and 10 in the third.

Cheney senior Kylee Scheer, the two-time 3A Player of the Year, tallied 31 points on 10 of 20 shooting. Junior Brynn McCormick delivered 19 points with 6 of 13 shooting. Cheney, which had the edge in 3-point shooting entering the contest, went 8 of 20 from beyond the arc. GP was 2 of 13 from long range. Garden Plain shot 30 percent from the field. Garden Plain’s strength was getting to the foul line, and it shot 15 more – and made nine more – than Cheney. Seniors Madysen Zoglman and Alli Puetz delivered 14 and 12 points, respectively. Garden Plain is 7-1, and Cheney is 7-0. The Cardinals have won 18 in a row. Garden Plain had won its final five to finish last winter.

No. 4 WaKeeney-Trego lost its highlighted road Mid-Continent League contest to Phillipsburg, 54-48, last Tuesday. Trego was leading 32-21 at halftime and by six after the first three quarters. Phillipsburg opened the fourth quarter on a run, and outscored Trego, 17-6, in the fourth. Phillipsburg stands at 9-0 and is ranked fourth in 3A.

On Friday, Trego defeated Oakley, 51-18, with 22 points from senior Lili Shubert. The Golden Eagles are 8-1 this winter, and 31-2 in the last two seasons with a 1-2 mark versus Phillipsburg. Shubert finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and four blocks in the Phillipsburg game. Shubert has averaged more than 20 points a contest.

3A: Cheney teams with charitable event

Cheney’s A-B-C basketball teams on the boys’ and girls’ side are helping to raise money for Relay for Life. Each made 3-pointer yields a corresponding dollar amount. As of Jan. 15, the boys had raised $1,810.10 and the girls with $1,672.05. The boys will be at the Halstead Rupp tournament bracket this week. Haven, Minneapolis and Cheney all had one loss at the time of seeding.

6A: Garden City ends Liberal’s winning streak; Dodge City’s coach Snodgrass with 100th career victory

Dodge City has been one of the state’s leading storylines through the first six weeks of play. Last week, DC continued its unbeaten record. Last Tuesday, Garden City defeated Liberal, 42-38. It ended Liberal’s 29-game winning streak and 25 straight in WAC play. It marked Liberal’s first regular season loss since Jan. 5, 2018 in a 48-41 road defeat to Hays High.

Garden City, which didn’t play before Christmas because of COVID-19 restrictions, is off to a 3-1 start, including 3-0 against Kansas teams. Garden City will first play rival Dodge City on Feb. 2.

Dodge City is 8-0, ranked No. 8 in Class 6A and second in MaxPreps’ all-classification statistical rankings. DC has averaged 61.1 points per game and has three wins against ranked teams: Nickerson, McPherson and Liberal. On Friday, DC defeated Liberal, 45-36. Liberal was ranked No. 10 in Class 6A. The win marked coach Kelley Snodgrass’ 100th career victory as Red Demon head coach.

Camree Johnson scored 18 points, and Kisa Unruh tallied 10. DC broadcaster Sean Boston passed along some notes. Dodge City, which has led Kansas in assists some of the winter, recorded 14 assists on 15 made field goals. DC ended an eight-game losing streak to Liberal. Unruh has scored 10-plus points in every game this winter. Unruh holds multiple school records, including all-time career points.

4A: Clearwater girls with buzzer-beater shot

Clearwater, a team with an impressive turnaround the last two seasons, defeated Wellington, 58-57. Wellington is ranked No. 10 in Class 4A. Freshman Elizabeth Tjaden banked in a guarded trey with 1.8 seconds left. Clearwater stands at 5-2. Sophomore Carli Carlson has 17.6 points, five rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. Tjaden has stepped in with 9.9. points, 5.4 rebounds and two assists a contest. Junior Brooke Berlin has 7.3 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds. Clearwater finished 12-9 last winter. Before then, the Indians had won eight games in the previous four seasons.

4A: No. 2 Mulvane boys stay undefeated; Abasolo continues to climb scoring lists

On Friday, Mulvane defeated Andale, 60-53, in overtime behind 31 points from Trey Abasolo. He moved to No. 2 all-time on the Mulvane career points list with 1,232. Abasolo has quickly vaulted up the scoring list this season. He has played in 72 career games and led Mulvane to an 8-0 start. He passed Jerry Webster, who played in the ‘50s. Mulvane last beat Andale in ’09-10 and is off to its best start since 1958. Abasolo has committed to NAIA Southwestern College.

4A: Rose Hill boys defeat Wichita Collegiate

Rose Hill has defeated Wichita Collegiate three straight seasons on the road, including a 68-57 win on Friday. Rose Hill stands at 5-3. The Rockets beat Collegiate, 57-44, on Feb. 15, 2019 and 66-63 on Jan. 10, 2020. Collegiate beat RH, 60-45, on Feb. 21, 2020 before Rose Hill won this past week. Rose Hill is unranked, and Collegiate is ranked second in 3A.

As well, last Tuesday, RH swept Andale on varsity, JV and C-team, 74-58. Coach Joshua Shirley said it marked the first time the Rockets swept Andale in more than 16 years. Kobe Koehler had two dunks in one game, and Adriel Smith paced Rose Hill with 32 points. Smith has made a huge impact after he transferred from Wichita East.

As well, Rose Hill beat Clearwater, 64-63, behind 25 points from Smith on Jan. 8. Rose Hill went to state in ’16 and ’20 and was part of the ’20 Class 4A Forever Four.

5A: No. 1 Andover Central girls continue to roll; No. 1 Andover boys win

In Friday’s Battle of Andover, Andover Central beat Andover, 70-27. Maine signing Bailey Wilborn sunk nine treys. Ellie Stearns made four treys and delivered 14 points.

AC’s 6-foot junior Brittany Harshaw helped the Jaguars move to 7-0. She has committed to Creighton and has delivered 20 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.5 steals per game. Andover Central has averaged 67 points and 20 assists a game. The top-four players all average at least 11.3 points a contest. Wilborn is at 14.3, sophomore Maddi Amekporfor stands at 12, and junior Ellie Stearns is at 11.3.

5A: Maize boys end Andover’s 30-game winning streak

On the boys’ side, Andover started a new winning streak after a 63-43 win versus Andover Central. Last Tuesday, Andover fell, 77-70, to Maize and ended its 30th game winning streak. Andover is ranked first in 5A, and Maize sixth. However, Andover standout Jack Johnson, a Division I Dallas Baptist signing, did not play in the Maize contest, but returned Friday.

Maize returned four starters and brought back Avery Johnson from injury. Johnson has recently picked up a TCU offer after a sterling year as the Eagles quarterback. Jacob Hanna has signed with Illinois-Springfield has led 15.4 points per game. Maize stands at 6-1 with only a 67-59 loss to Derby on Dec. 15. The Eagles shot 55 percent versus Andover, including 3 of 3 from long range from junior Kyle Grill. Maize has averaged 68 points per game and has shot 46 percent from 3.

3A: TMP boys go 2-1 in the week with rivalry win; opened MCL competition Saturday

The MCL is extremely loaded on both sides, especially for the girls. On Saturday, the tournament started. TMP boys lost at Hoxie, ranked No. 1 in 2A, on Tuesday, and then defeated rival Ellis on Friday. In the first round Saturday, the Monarchs easily cruised over winless Smith Center, 75-39. TMP is 7-2 with losses to Hays High (undefeated, No. 3 in 5A) and Hoxie. Gavin Unrein finished with 17.

TMP boys lost 60-54 to Hoxie in a game that SIK highlighted entering the week. TMP briefly led in the second half. Hoxie’s 6-foot-11 senior Harlan Obioha, who has Division I offers in both football and basketball, finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks. Monarch senior guard Jackson Schulte paced with 22 points, according to TMP radio.

In the Battle of Big Creek/Ellis County rivalry on Friday, TMP held off Ellis, 59-56. TMP led throughout the second half. Ellis dropped to 7-1. TMP is 8-1 against Ellis since the rivalry resumed, though has won the last three games by one, four and three points.

MCL girls’ tournament look

One of the best midseason tournaments is likely the Mid-Continent League girls.

Ellis lost to rival TMP on Friday and dropped to 6-2. Grace Eck, a Fort Hays signee, has 23.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and four steals a contest. Eck has cleared 1,100 career points.

The league has three ranked teams: Phillipsburg (No. 4 3A), WaKeeney-Trego (No. 4 2A) and Smith Center (No. 9 2A). Phillipsburg is undefeated, and Trego and TMP both have one loss. SC girls are 6-2.

On Friday, Phillipsburg is 9-0, including 53-45 against Norton on Friday. The Panthers led 28-13 after the first quarter. Sophomore Taryn Sides finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Sides has Big 12 offers. Last season, WaKeeney-Trego beat Phillipsburg in the finals. However, Phillipsburg required overtime to defeat Hoxie in the semifinals. Thus far, many of the top teams in the league have not played each other. Notably, TMP has not faced WaKeeney, Phillipsburg or Smith Center yet.

No. 3-seeded TMP will face No. 6-seeded Smith Center at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in a tournament quarterfinal.

1A-1: Doniphan West’s Clevenger with strong performances

Sophomore Chloe Clevenger finished with eight assists and zero turnovers and helped DW capture its seventh win this winter. She delivered 11 points on Tuesday, too. On Jan. 8, Clevenger finished with 13 and helped DW beat Washington County, 46-38, in a battle of then-undefeated teams.

In cross country, Clevenger finished fifth at state last fall and helped DW capture the 1A state championship. DW captured the 1A title in 2019 and Clevenger took 11th.

Her dad, Chad, was selected to take over the McPherson College cross country team on Dec. 9. He had spent the last 11 seasons leading Highland CC. His wife Gina Clevenger was the Doniphan West cross-country coach on the title squads. Doniphan West stands at 7-1. They are part of the very difficult Centralia sub-state that also includes Jackson Heights, Frankfort, Clifton-Clyde and Centralia. DW’s only loss has come against Centralia.

On Saturday, Clifton-Clyde defeated Onaga, 52-42, at the Twin Valley League tournament and now plays Doniphan West on Monday. Freshman Shea Wurtz delivered 32 points for C-C in the victory.

Doniphan West finished 14-9, including a season-opening loss to Washington County last winter.

Schreiner’s triple-double leads other top performances; Hughes and Grant clears 1,000; Bucklin’s Bowman stands 20 points short

Bishop Miege, ranked No. 1 in 4A, won four games in six days, including a 63-44 win against Park Hill in the Kearney championship this weekend. Miege has plenty of talent, led by senior Payton Verhulst, the state’s top player. Verhulst has committed to Louisville, which is expected to be the new No. 1 team in women’s basketball once the new polls come out this week.

Eudora’s Harper Schreiner finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and seven steals. In December, Schreiner delivered 30 points in one game and had a double in the next contest. A junior, Schreiner was a first team all-state player.

Pittsburg’s Javon Grant cleared 1,000 career points earlier this year and was honored last Tuesday by his school. In his last three games, Grant has delivered 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds; 29 points, five rebounds and two assists; and 20 points, five assists, four rebounds and six blocks. The 5-foot-11 senior point guard has 31.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game this year. He has shot 49 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range.

Jeff DeLaTorre was honored as the long-time boys coach at Fort Scott HS after stepping down after the 2020 season in which he was replaced by Clint Heffern, an Iola native that was an assistant for the legendary Wayne Cichon at Colgan the last few years. DeLaTorre went 278-173 over the last two years (2000-2020) with six SEK league titles, six sub-state championships and two 4A state titles. DeLaTorre is now the Fort Scott athletic director and previously coached at Yates Center HS before Fort Scott.

Rock Creek’s Dawson Zenger has enjoyed another terrific season. Zenger averaged 29.3 points, six rebounds and five assists a contest. RC is 7-1 after a 20-win year last winter.

Hutchinson Trinity’s Hayley Hughes cleared 1,000 career points. Hughes is returning honorable mention all-state by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.

Satanta’s Christian Ramirez had impressive 30-second sequence against Meade when he sunk a three-pointer, blocked a shot with a great hustle play and then sunk another trey.

Bucklin’s Catherine Bowman, an outstanding volleyball/basketball player for the Red Aces, has delivered 22.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals a contest. Bucklin is 7-2 and part of a sub-state that has South Gray (6-2), South Central (6-3) and Meade (5-3). Bowman has 980 career points.

Osawatomie’s Amiah Simmons, a first-year transfer from Blue Valley Southwest, has led the state in steals. Simmons, who has signed to play with Division II Biola, has 30.2 points, 7.5 steals, 6.3 rebounds and five assists a contest. Osawatomie is 5-1 after a 9-12 mark last winter. Osawatomie has first-year coach Beau Gadwood, a former coach at Russell. Gadwood was also a former all-conference tight end for Fort Hays State. Simmons, who averaged 18 points per game last season for Blue Valley Southwest, transferred back to Osawatomie. Her father had served as Osawatomie’s boys’ basketball coach when she was younger. Simmons was honorable mention Class 5A by the KBCA last winter.

Goddard-Eisenhower’s Nick Hogan has committed to Washburn football after a standout year at quarterback. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Hogan has 16.9 points and 13.7 rebounds a contest. Eisenhower will compete at the Dodge City TOC with host DC, Derby, Junction City, Hutchinson, Bishop Carroll and Newton. Carroll is ranked eighth in 5A boys.

Bird City-Cheylin’s Colton McCarty, featured earlier this winter on SIK for the Cougars’ impressive turnaround, has averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds a contest. Cheylin is 6-1 after a 6-15 season last winter. The Cougars are ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, Division II. Its road game against Ransom-Western Plains last Friday was cancelled because of injury/high winds.

Campus’ Sterling Chapman, a Tulsa commit and defending 6A Player of the Year, has enjoyed another big year with 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Campus stands at 5-2.

Little River’s Jayden Garrison has continued his superb two-sport career. He has averaged 27.1 points, 3.3 steals, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Garrison is the defending 1A Basketball Player of the Year and the Eight-Man, Division I Offensive Player of the Year. Little River is ranked first in Class 1A, Division I.

Sedan’s Dameion Hatten is 6-4, 195 and has delivered 29.2 points and 10 rebounds a contest. Sedan is 4-1.

Holcomb’s Zephyn Mason has averaged 17 points a contest. Holcomb is 7-1, including a 45-32 win versus Scott City last Friday.

Lansing defeated De Soto, 57-41. Malik Benson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Joren Remington finished with 13 points, and Peyton Basler scored 11.

Deerfield girls ended a 33-game losing streak last week as they knocked off Fowler 43-40 on the road. Even more impressive, they finished the game with just three players on the court. 

J.C. Allen of Weskan went over 1,000 career points for the Coyotes girls team. Weskan, the home of former Nevada Sweet 16 Player Todd Okeson and the Okeson siblings who were incredible athletes in the 1990s and 2000s at Weskan, is located in extreme Western Kansas in the mountain time zone just 1.5 miles from Colorado. 

While she isn't currently in high school we have to mention this. Emily Ryan (Central Plains) scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and had three assists in the 75-71 win over Baylor for Iowa State over the weekend. Ryan scored over 3,000 points in high school at CP where she never lost a high school game and is now a true freshman starting for Iowa State that is a rising talent across college basketball. 

Wamego boys HC Troy Hemphill went over 300 career wins last week for the Red Raiders. Wamego also features Tanner Hecht this season who is around 21 points per game and nine boards per contest. 

Jaya Esquibel, which will be highlighted this week in our Western Kansas American Implement feature, went over 1,000 career points for the Lakin girls basketball team. 

Doug Tuck won his 600th career game at St. Paul last week. Tuck has been the head coach since 1989. Originally from Florida after playing college football at Bethel (Kan.), Tuck thought he would stay at St. Paul for two-to-three years and he has been there since. Incredible accomplishment averaging around 19 wins per year in that time frame. He also has two state football titles in 8-man when he used to be the head football coach. St. Paul has just 10 players on its team this year (7 sophomores and 3 juniors). 


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