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Basketball in Kansas :A look at KS midseason tournaments

Uniontown picked up Kenny Holt title this weekend.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Jan 24, 2021

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A look at midseason tournaments during the weekend, including an impressive start from Garden City girls, plenty of records for Rock Creek boys, impressive runs for Hoxie boys and Smith Center girls, and the huge boys’ matchup between Little River and Berean Academy. Also plenty of notes from Hugoton’s titles, Tonganoxie tournament and Uniontown girls’ impressive showing. Hoxie’s 7-foot Harlan Obioha and De Soto’s 6-11 Nate Barnhart each had highly impressive weekends.

We start, though, with the wild ending in the Salina Invitational girls’ tournament:

Class 6A

In an incredibly remarkable ending, Liberal girls defeated Salina Central 60-58, to win its fourth consecutive Salina Invitational title. With .4 seconds left, Aubrie Kierscht was fouled and made all three foul shots to tie. Kierscht, a Navy commit, is arguably the state’s best shooter. Then, Liberal’s Bree Horyna threw a baseball pass to Rylie Hallman, who banked in the game-winning jumper. Liberal broadcaster Brock Kappelmann noted the play was called “football,” and the Redskins had practiced it in previous years under former coach Carter Kruger. It marked Hallman’s only made basket in the game. Ashley Carrillo tallied 21 points, and Horyna tacked on 12 points and nine rebounds.

Liberal won its fourth straight title. Kierscht finished with 25, according to Salina broadcaster Pat Strathman. Liberal led 51-37 after three quarters. This marked the fifth straight year Salina Central faced Liberal for the tournament title.

Liberal recently fell out of the Class 6A rankings, and Salina Central is ranked fourth in Class 5A. Liberal stands at 9-2 after a 23-0 season last winter. Salina Central is also 9-2 with its only other loss to Andover Central, ranked No. 1 in 5A. Kierscht has averaged nearly 20 points a game this winter and is up to 904 career points. Kierscht has made 35 of 67 (52 percent) from beyond the arc. She is 26 of 30 (87 percent) from the foul line.

Garden City girls’ Keyhana Turner captured Most Valuable Player honors at the Colby Orange and Black tournament. She, Amaya Gallegos, and Aileen Becerril were on the all-tournament team. Garden City has quietly built an impressive resume after it did not play in December from coronavirus protocols. GC is 7-1 and undefeated against Kansas teams with the lone loss to Kearney, Neb. Garden City defeated Goodland, 57-45, to capture the Orange and Black. Goodland is ranked No. 8 in Class 3A. Earlier in the tournament, Garden City held off Colby, 54-53, in overtime.

In AVCTL play, Derby avenged its lone loss to Maize with a 36-24 win. Derby stands at 8-1. The Panthers had lost, 41-29, to Maize on Dec. 22. Since then, Derby has won four in a row. The Panthers have permitted 28.8 points per contest, decimal points behind Shawnee Mission Northwest for the top 6A defense, according to KSHSAA statistics. Derby is ranked seventh in 6A, and Maize third in 5A.

Campus boys won the Ralph Miller Classic in Chanute. The Colts won the tournament by an average margin of 37 points. Sterling Chapman, a Tulsa signing and reigning Class 6A Player of the Year, tallied 11 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and four steals in the 64-43 championship game win versus Shawnee Mission South. Stevie Strong continued his impressive year with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. Jayden Hall had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Campus is fourth in 6A and stands at 8-1.

Dodge City will be the top seed in the McPherson Mid-America Classic next week. DC girls are undefeated and up to No. 4 in Class 6A.

Class 5A

Hays High boys, ranked No. 1 in 5A, won the Colby Orange and Black title. HHS broadcaster Dustin Armbruster noted Carson Kieffer, Jace Linenberger, Dalyn Schwarz and Jordan Dale earned all-tourney team honors. Kieffer was Hays High’s first Orange and Black MVP since Marcus Watts in ’01. Hays High beat Colby, 56-47, and captured the tournament for the first time since ’03. Hays High is 11-0. Colby, a returning 3A state qualifier, shot more than 50 percent from the field. On the girls’ side, Aleyia Ruder collected all-tournament team honors for Hays High. HHS girls finished 1-2.

Bishop Carroll defeated Junction City, 61-46, to win the Dodge City Tournament of Champions. The Golden Eagles are ranked eighth in 5A, and Junction City stands tenth in 6A. BC won its second all-time TOC crown. Carroll led by 19 points entering the fourth quarter. Alex Littlejohn tallied 29 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Carter Reid scored 11 points and 4 of 8 shooting. Preston Rottinghaus scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Carroll finished plus-14 on the glass.

Dodge City defeated Goddard-Eisenhower, 50-37, for third place. DC broadcaster Sean Boston noted it marked DC’s best finish since 2011. Dodge City has improved to 7-4 with new coach Shane Traughber, who had enjoyed a strong run at nearby Stanton County. DC was 4-17 a year ago and did not win a game at the TOC. Cooper Scheck delivered 14 points, and Cooper Loll finished with 11 rebounds.

DC was 16 of 28 from the free throw line, and Eisenhower finished 4 of 9. Nick Hogan paced Eisenhower with 19 points and 22 rebounds to continue his great season. In the semifinals, Carroll beat Eisenhower, 64-45, behind 22 points from Carter Reid.

Salina South, an 11-10 team last winter, improved to 8-0 after an impressive 55-52 win against Andover on Saturday to capture the Salina Invitational championship. South won its 13th all-time Salina title. Andover had just one loss since the start of the ’19-20 season. Salina South took a leap up the rankings to third this week. Andover is fifth in 5A.

Kamryn Farris enjoyed an excellent fall as Lansing’s 5-foot-11 junior libero. Farris was second team all-state by the Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association. Lansing remains undefeated with a 58-34 win versus Gardner-Edgerton. Farris tallied 27 points. Farris continues to play excellent defense and tallied four assists. Lansing also has McKenzie Moburg, Caitlin Bishop and Skylar Weaver for an 8-0 Lions squad. Lansing is ranked fifth in 5A. Farris is averaging 17.6 points per game this year.

Class 4A

No. 2-ranked Mulvane boys continued to be arguably Kansas’ top story this winter. Mulvane won the 50th annual Roadrunner Classic at Chaparral. Trey Abasolo, Ian Comer and Mason Ellis earned all-tournament team honors. Mulvane outscored Arkansas City, 27-8, in the first half en route for a 53-31 championship. Abasolo tallied 25 points, while Comer scored 15, and Ellis tallied 10.

Mulvane is now 11-0 and won the Roadrunner championship for the first time since 2011. Earlier in the tournament, Mulvane beat Lyndon, 63-52, and Circle, 75-55. Lyndon is ranked second in Class 2A. Mulvane has already surpassed last season’s win total when it captured 10 victories.

After a highly rare points-rebounds-steals triple-double on Jan. 8, Chanute senior Kori Babcock led Chanute to a 3-0 record at the Freeman Sports Medicine Mid-Season Shoot-Out. Chanute was a late addition to the tournament. Babcock had a career-high 35 points versus Nevada, Mo. to close out the tournament. She averaged more than seven rebounds, five steals and four assists a game. Chanute stands at 7-2.

Rose Hill took third in the Adolph Rupp tournament with a 70-67 win versus Minneapolis. Adriel Smith earned the all-tournament team, and Kellan Simoneau reached the finals of the 3-point contest. Smith and Bryson Evans picked up all-academic team. Minneapolis is 8-3, and Rose Hill stands at 6-4.

Clearwater’s Tanner Cash hit a buzzer-beater trey to beat Winfield, 52-51.

Augusta beat Louisburg to win the Baldwin Invitational Championship. Augusta features multiple-sport star Ely Wilcox. Orioles were a Forever Four team in 4A last season. 

Eudora junior Harper Schreiner earned MVP of the Tonganoxie tournament. Eudora is ranked second in 4A behind Bishop Miege.  De Soto’s Katelynn Ostronic was the Most Inspirational Player. The girls’ all-tournament team featured Holton’s Saydee Tanking, Bonner Springs’ Mariyah Noel, Olathe Northwest’s Holly McCormick and Jillian Huckabey, Tonganoxie’s Morgan Brusven and Raegan Seba, Wamego’s Ashten Pierson, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Beatrice Culliton, Madison Skelton and Jamya McPherson. Seba overcame foul trouble to play solidly at point guard, and Brusven is Tonganoxie’s senior captain.

The tournament was loaded with talent. Schreiner is a returning first team all-state 4A pick. Skelton has signed with Emporia State, and Culliton has many high Division I offers. Huckabey is one of the state’s top freshmen for volleyball and basketball. Aquinas girls and De Soto boys won the titles. Aquinas beat Bonner Springs (54-23), Eudora (52-33) and Olathe Northwest (46-32) en route to the title. Aquinas is ranked second in 5A girls.

For the boys, De Soto defeated Eudora (43-38), Bonner Springs (53-23), and Holton (51-45) to win. De Soto is ranked ninth in 5A. De Soto’s Nate Barnhart, who has signed with Wyoming, was the Most Valuable Player. Holton’s Blake Mulroy earned Most Inspirational Player. The all-tournament team consisted of: Metro Academy’s Cooper Frisbie, Wamego’s Tanner Hecht, Bonner Springs’ Trent Stimac, Tonganoxie’s Andrew Wilson and Rylee Beach, Eudora’s Jaden Hamm, Holton’s Kate Purcell and Matthew Lierz, and De Soto’s Jackson Miller and Wyatt Noll. Barnhart is 6-foot-11.

Max Alexander of Buhler had a tournament record of 93-points over three games in the Salina Invitational Tournament. The tournament has been in place for 42 seasons. The Crusaders took third and he is averaing over 24 ppg this season. 

Class 3A

Perhaps no team had a more impressive performance than undefeated Hugoton girls, which defeated Class 2A No. 1 Sterling to win the Sterling Invitational. Hugoton defeated Sterling, 65-44, and moved to 9-0. Sterling dropped to 11-1. Hugoton stands fifth in 3A, though will likely move up this week.

Hugoton is extremely well-known for its sophomore trio of Mikyn Hamlin, Summya Adigun and Gianna Vos and senior Jordyn Beard. Hamlin averaged 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds en route to all tournament team honors. Vos had 17 points a game, and Adigun delivered 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Beard also earned all-tournament team with seven points and nine rebounds a contest. In the Sterling game, Vos tallied 28 points, and Hamlin has 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Lakin boys continued an impressive season under coach Nate Schmitt. Known for its full court press style, Lakin won its second straight Hi-Plains League tournament championship with a 72-43 win versus Southwestern Heights. Lakin has won three of the past four titles and stands at 10-0 this winter. Lakin reached the sub-state championship game last winter. The Broncs are currently fifth in 3A.

Hugoton boys have turned its season around after a slow start in the Hays City Shoot-Out in December. The Eagles captured the Sterling Invitational with a quality 73-60 win against Hutchinson Trinity. For the tournament, Hugoton collectively shot 37 of 70 (53 percent) from 3-point range, including 15 of 20 versus Sterling in a 69-48 semifinal victory. Hugoton has won seven in a row and stands at 7-2. The Eagles lost to Hays High and Thomas More Prep-Marian to open the year. HHS is undefeated, and TMP has three losses. Sterling boys are ranked fifth in 5A.

St. Marys boys defeated Nemaha Central, 51-46, to win the Thunder Classic. St Marys is ranked fifth in 3A after a surprise Forever Four showing last March. SM is coached by Will Spradling, a former Kansas State key starter.

Osawatomie continued its impressive season with Amiah Simmons. The Trojans captured the Pleasanton tournament. Simmons had 30, 37 and 32 points in the tournament and has averaged more than 30 points a game this winter. Osawatomie is 8-1, including a 55-35 win versus Pleasanton.

Riverton won the Southeast Lancer Classic championship with a 49-38 win versus Erie, which is ranked second in Class 3A.

Galena boys won the Tony Dubray Classic. Galena, a Forever Four squad last winter, has sophomore Tyler Little and junior Brett Sarwinski, two of 3A’s top players. Galena is ranked tenth in 3A. Sarwinski earned Tournamnet MVP.

Galena girls also captured the Tony Dubray Classic for the second straight year with a quality win against Pittsburg Colgan. Galena had struggled in a big loss to Colgan earlier this year. Galena sophomore Mia Sarwinski also earned back-to-back tournament MVP honors while Addyson Scarrow earned All-Tournament team in back to back years. Sarwinski scored 20 points. Colgan beat Galena, 54-30, on Jan. 12.

Girard boys and girls won Wilson County Classic Tournaments. Both teams could be a major factor in their loaded 3A Riverton sub-state that features several quality CNC teams. Keep in mind, Girard was the last boys team in 3A to win a state title in basketball (2019) and Galena made the Final Four out of the CNC in 2020. Frontenac girls also made 2020 Final Four before season cancelled due to COVID. Whoever comes out of these sub-states will have a shot. 

Rock Creek boys captured back-to-back Burlington Invitational Championships. Dawson Zenger tallied 82 points in three games and averages 29 a game this winter. RC is ranked eighth in 3A and stands at 10-1 after the 53-44 win versus Paola. Rock Creek has won the tournament five times in seven years. Zenger set the tournament scoring record with 244 points. Caden Vinduska set the single game school record with 23 rebounds in a tournament game.

Sabetha girls, ranked No. 6 in 3A, won its third straight Burlington Invitational championship. Sabetha defeated Rock Creek, 39-30, in the finals. In the semifinals, Rock Creek boys beat Silver Lake, 59-37, and RC girls defeated Silver Lake, 61-28. Sabetha was the 3A state volleyball champion this fall. 

Cheney’s Luke Grace earned Rupp Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as the Cardinals won the tournament. Harrison and Jackson Voth and Harrison Middleton all earned tournament team honors. Cheney stands at 9-1 after a 58-43 win versus Haven. In 3A, Cheney is ranked fourth and Haven seventh.

Class 2A

Hoxie boys, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, continued its impressive season with a 70-54 win against WaKeeney-Trego to capture the Mid-Continent League title. Hoxie is 10-0. The Indians received 34 points and 17 rebounds, including a pair of dunks, from 7-foot senior Harlan Obioha. Hoxie also played very strong in a quality semifinal win against TMP.

Hoxie is a collective 4-0 against Trego and TMP. Those two teams are a combined 18-2 in all other games. Obioha cleared 1,000 career points in Saturday’s victory at Ellis High School. Hoxie has increased its offensive efficiency in the last two contests and continues to receive excellent guard play from Ashton Dowell, Brady Jones, Gavin Tremblay and Caden White. Dowell recorded five assists in both TMP and WaKeeney wins.

White had his first ever in-game dunk versus WaKeeney. WaKeeney’s Charlie Russell continues to have a fine season and has averaged 15 points, six rebounds and three steals a game. Cole Feldt and Kobi Shubert notably had strong tournaments, too, especially in Friday’s comeback win versus Ellis. Hoxie, which could face WaKeeney two more times this year, has solidified itself as the 2A favorite.

Smith Center emerged from the upset-filled Mid-Continent League girls to win the league tournament for the first time in nine years. SC shot extremely well in the first quarter, including four 3s from Ashlyn Long, en route to a 64-47 finals win against Norton. All three ranked teams – Phillipsburg, WaKeeney, TMP – lost before the finals.

Tallon Rentschler led the No. 6-seed Lady Red with 27 points and nine rebounds in the finals. She averaged 28 points and more than 10 rebounds a game in the tournament. Rentschler and Long both earned some all-state volleyball recognition when Smith Center was volleyball state runner-up. Smith Center is loaded with multiple talented freshmen and sophomores and has zero seniors on varsity.

Phillipsburg and Hoxie finished third and fourth for girls, and TMP and Ellis went third and fourth for boys. Norton girls start five seniors, including Tessa Hauser, who averages just shy of a double-double. Phillipsburg is fourth in 3A, and Ellis stands tenth in 2A.

Uniontown’s Danielle Howard averaged 19.7 points, 6.7 assists, 6.3 steals, 4.7 rebounds and two blocks per game in the inaugural Kenny Holt Memorial Tournament. Karleigh Schoenberger averaged 19 points, 7.3 rebounds and made 12 of 15 free throws (80 percent). Both players picked up team player of the week honors. Howard, Schoenberger, Luke Perry and Jake Harvey earned all-tournament team honors. Schoenberger cleared 1,000 career points in the tournament. Uniontown is 8-1 after a 16-6 season last winter.

For Kansas City Christian, Ashley VanElders, Avery Spencer, Alex Knernschield and Drew Van Dyke made the all-tournament honors at the Kenny Holt. The four-team tournament also included Prairie View and Altoona-Midway. For the boys’ side, KCC won with Uniontown second. PV took third on both sides. PV’s Braxton Stainbrook was all tournament team for the girls.

The boys’ all-tournament team also included Prairie View’s Gradey Gregg and Josh Robbins.

Syracuse senior Austin Plunkett delivered 31 points, 29 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals, eight blocks and four charges taken in the Hi-Plains League tournament. Sophomore Kyler Keller delivered 54 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, four steals and a charge. Syracuse is 10-2.

Northern Heights girls won the Flint Hills Shoot-Out. Earlier in the tournament, NH came from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Mission Valley, 48-45. NH is eighth in 2A.

Ness City, who won a state title two seasons ago, finished as the NWKL Tournament Champions. 

Elkhart girls finished as HPL Tourney champs for the second year in a row. 

The Southern Plains Iroquois tournament started Saturday and runs through next Saturday with many of the games at United Wireless Arena.

Class 1A (Division I and Division II)

In a huge matchup for the Burrton championship, Little River held off Berean Academy, 41-39, with just five points in the fourth quarter. Little River is first in Class 1A, Division I, and Berean Academy stands fourth in 2A. Little River stands at 12-0 after the victory, and BA is 10-2. Little River has won 26 straight games. LR and Blue Valley Northwest have the longest current winning streaks in Kansas boys’ basketball, according to SIK research. LR’s last loss came against Berean Academy in a 68-43 game on Jan. 25, 2020.

After 11 contests, senior Jayden Garrison is at 27.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game. Garrison is the defending Class 1A Player of the Year. Senior Trey Rolfs has also enjoyed a nice season with 12 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals a contest. Sophomore Braxton Lafferty delivers 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Central Plains girls defeated league rival St. John, 64-40, to win the St. John Mid-Winter Classic. CP is first in Class 1A, Division II.

The Twin Valley League yielded another strong terrific with multiple close games. For the girls, No. 4-seeded Frankfort beat two ranked teams en route to the TVL title. Frankfort beat top-seeded Valley Heights, 37-34, in the semifinals. In the finals, Frankfort beat Hanover, 48-45, in overtime. It marked the second time this month Frankfort defeated Hanover. Valley Heights finished third over Doniphan West. VH is fourth in 2A, and Hanover stands second in 1A, Division II. Frankfort stands at 9-2.

Wakefield senior Alec Vann scored more than 60 points in the Centre Cougar Classic tournament.

Quinter girls improved to 10-1 on the season to win the NWKL league tournament. 

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