Sports in Kansas has released its annual list of coach of the year winners across the seven classifications in Kansas. A media panel of over 30 members in Kansas vote to compile finalists and winners each and every year.
Capsules are provided by Conor Nicholl of Sports in Kansas. Media day was handled by Bethany Bowman of Sports in Kansas and Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas. Photos by Terry Rinehart for Sports in Kansas.
Class 6A: Kevin Bordewick, Washburn Rural
Washburn Rural finished 23-2 and won its second all-time girls’ basketball championship, both under legendary coach Kevin Bordewick. The Junior Blues took both losses to Centennial League rival Topeka High. Rural handed Derby both of its defeats. At state, Rural beat Dodge City, 66-43, in the quarterfinals. For the semifinals, Rural held off Olathe North, 44-43. North entered 23-0 and had been the No. 1-ranked team in 6A most of the season. North’s five starters had all signed Division II or higher, including Sania Copeland, a Division I Missouri State signing.
In the finals, Rural delivered terrific defense in a 40-23 win against Derby. Rural also captured the 6A title in 2019 when the Junior Blues defeated heavily favored and undefeated Derby in the state semifinals. Bordewick earned SIK All-Classes Coach of the Year that season. This season, Rural had Brooklyn DeLeye, Emma Krueger and Zoe Canfield as its three standouts. In volleyball, Rural was undefeated entering state and eventually took third.
DeLeye was Kansas volleyball player of the year and has committed to Kentucky. DeLeye, a junior post, and Krueger, a senior, were two of the five players named first team all-Centennial League. Canfield, who comes from a highly athletic family, and sophomore Jada Ingram were each second team. Bordewick picked up league coach of the year honors, too. In the championship, DeLeye paced Rural with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Bordewick is also top-5 all-time in Kansas history in volleyball wins. Rural has won seven volleyball titles with crowns most recently in ’06-09, ’11 and ’12. Bordewick was part of a highly successful group of Macksville graduates this basketball season.
He, Bucklin boys’ coach Derek Bevan, Bucklin girls’ coach Craig Bowman, and Hodgeman County girls’ coach Trent Bright are all Macksville graduates and were coach of the year finalists in a respective classification. Plus, Macksville assistant Daniel Grizzell, who has won a state football title at Macksville, is a Mustang alum. Bordewick was a national coach of the year for ’19-20 in volleyball. Bordewick has more than 1,200 career wins.
At Washburn Rural, he is 235-70 in basketball and 264-164 in basketball for his career. This marked his fourth Centennial League coach of the year honor for basketball. Bordewick has six final fours and five top-three finishes in basketball.
Class 5A: Chris Fear, Salina Central
For most of the season, Salina Central was Kansas’ best team under coach Chris Fear. Central and St. Thomas Aquinas were ranked 1-2 in 5A throughout the winter and emerged as clear front-runners early on.
Overall, Salina Central finished a school record 24-1 and has a strong case for the best 3-point shooting team in Kansas history. The Mustangs won its first 24 contests, all by double figures, and lost, 52-38, to St. Thomas Aquinas in the championship game. Aquinas has won six straight 5A state titles and feature the state’s top player in Beatrice Culliton, an Oklahoma signing.
Salina Central was a final four team in 2021 and lost three times to league rival Andover Central, including the state semifinals. This season, SC beat Andover Central twice, the 5A eventual third-place squad. Central had one senior on last season’s squad and won its first two state games by 35 and 31 points. SC easily paced 5A in scoring offense throughout the winter.
Central reached a state championship for the second time in school history. The Mustangs nearly broke the Kansas record for most 3s in a season and 3-point field goal percentage. Salina Central finished 224 of 596 (39.6 percent) from beyond the arc. Hill City holds the state mark with 242 makes and 651 attempts in 2010. Plus, Frontenac has the state record at 40.2 percent, though made just 49 treys in 2002, per Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Senior Aubrie Kierscht, a consensus first team all-state player, top-10 all-classes pick and the state’s top shooter, finished with 317 career treys and 113 this season. The season mark is 132, set by Hill City’s Lexi Hardiek in 2010. Moundridge’s Laurie Koehn, who starred at Kansas State, has the career mark with 331.
Kierscht, a Navy commit, is Salina Central’s all-time scorer with 1,685 points. On Jan. 11, she scored 40 points against Valley Center, which is a single game school record. Plus, Kierscht had 12 treys in the contest, which tied the Kansas mark. Hampton Williams, who has signed with Division I Abilene Christian, finished second all-time with 641 rebounds, only behind Shaelyn Martin, a Kansas State star.
Junior point guard Mykayla Cunningham had 10 assists against Andover Central on Dec. 12, which tied the single game school mark. She also set the single season assist mark with 128. Kierscht delivered 20.7 points a contest for a squad that averaged 62.1 points per game. Fear has led the Mustangs to four straight years of wins improvement: 12-10, 15-6, 19-5, 24-1. Central opened third in the preseason rankings behind St. Thomas Aquinas and Andover Central.
Fear is 104-36 with four trips to state in six seasons with Salina Central, including three final fours. He served 20 years as a college men’s basketball coach, including five at Kansas Wesleyan. In 2000, he was the assistant coach at Calvin (MI) College for the NCAA Division III national champions.
Class 4A: Brandon Parker, Eudora
Eudora finished 23-2 and earned 4A state runner-up to Bishop Miege, which has won back-to-back 4A state titles and has by far the most crowns of any girls’ basketball team in Kansas annals. Eudora was ranked ninth in the 4A preseason poll by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Eudora won the first two state tournament games in school history.
The Cardinals had a remarkable comeback with a 50-46 overtime victory against Clay Center in the state quarterfinals. Eudora didn’t lead until overtime. Harper Schreiner, the 4A Player of the Year, hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. In the semifinals, Eudora beat Wamego, 49-41. Wamego, which finished third, had three losses this winter, two to Eudora. The first came in the Tonganoxie tournament championship game.
Parker has enjoyed a strong run with Eudora with 20-3, 10-10, 23-2 in his three seasons. From 2009-10 through 2016-17, Eudora finished well under .500 each season. Then, Eudora posted 12-10 and 17-5 before the last three winters. Parker served an 11-year stint as assistant coach/co-coach for Tonganoxie volleyball with his wife, Tiffany.
In 2007, the Parkers led Tonganoxie to a 31-13 record and third-place finish, the program’s best finish. They resigned after the 2016 season. Brandon also was the Tonganoxie athletic director for many years. This winter, Eudora lost, 47-45, to Basehor-Linwood in the season opener, and then won a school record 23 straight.
Eudora won games by four, two, one, one, four and four in the winning streak. Last season, the Cardinals had four losses by a combined 11 points. A Pittsburg State signing, Schreiner cleared 1,000 career points. She finished with 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds. Brandon Parker is originally from McPherson and went to Kansas. He is a middle school P.E./health teacher in Eudora.
Class 3A & All-Classes Coach of Year: Bill Biermann, Goodland
Goodland enjoyed a remarkable season en route to the program’s first state berth since 2006 and first girls’ basketball state championship since 1980. The Cowgirls finished 24-2 and had just one loss to a KSHSAA team. Goodland had one senior, Emma Lehman, a tremendous leader. After a one-win season in ’17-18, Biermann took over the program.
The Cowgirls won four games Lehman’s freshman year, and then delivered a 12-win season in 2019-20. That year, Goodland beat Scott City in OT in the regular season finale, and then upset Hugoton at sub-state. Goodland lost to Scott City in overtime in the sub-state championship game. Those results formed the foundation for the turnaround. Last winter, Goodland went 18-4 and tied the school record for single season victories before the improvement in 2021-22. Goodland was ranked fourth in the KBCA preseason rankings.
The Cowgirls beat Dodge City, 47-39, to win the Goodland Topside Tipoff on Dec. 11. On Jan. 14, Goodland lost to GWAC rival Hugoton, 42-38, on the road. Hugoton junior standout Mikyn Hamlin hit an off-balanced trey as time expired in regulation to send the game to OT. Then, Goodland finished second in the Colby tournament with a loss to non-KSHSAA Life Prep. In the sub-state finale, the Cowgirls held off Phillipsburg, 40-33. The Panthers had the state’s leading scorer, Taryn Sides. Goodland junior Talexa Weeter, the Cowgirls top scorer with 17 points per game, was held to three.
Two Goodland hallmarks were its 1-3-1 defense and its tremendous depth. At state, Goodland won its three games by a combined eight points, including 48-47 versus Hugoton in the finals. Hamlin’s off-balance trey at the buzzer bounced out. Jaxi Mitchek averaged 11 points per game in the three state games after she scored 11 points all sub-state, per veteran Goodland broadcaster Ross Volkmer. Weeter delivered a huge semifinal versus No. 1 seed Silver Lake. Four girls averaged at least 7.5 points a game: Weeter, Emma and Olivia Lehman and Lindsey Cure. The quartet is all between 5-foot-11 and 6-0.
The group has made a similar boost in volleyball. After 34 wins in four seasons, Goodland is state final four and state qualifier the last two falls. Biermann has served at several places, including head boys’ basketball coach at Leoti-Wichita County from 1999-2003. He has 11 years as Goodland’s superintendent. In a rarity, Goodland’s superintendent, athletic director and principal all have at least one daughter on the squad. Biermann and the girls, especially Emma Lehman, have done a remarkable job with turning around team chemistry.
Connie Livengood, who has led Goodland girls’ golf to state titles in 2008 and ’19, was on the Goodland state championship team in 1975. She had served a stint as Goodland head girls’ coach and was an assistant for Biermann this winter.
Class 2A: Jill Rowland, Sterling
Sterling was wire-to-wire and ranked first all season for veteran coach Jill Rowland. Sterling has won back-to-back state championships, the first two girls’ basketball titles in program annals. Sterling finished 26-0, including a 42-35 win versus Berean Academy in the state semifinals, and 47-38 versus Garden Plain in the state finals.
Sterling gave league rival Berean Academy both of its losses this season until BA fell in the state third place game. Sterling had faced GP each of the last four state tournaments. Garden Plain beat Sterling in the ’19 championship. In ’20, GP won in the state quarterfinals. Last winter, Sterling beat GP in the state semifinals.
Sterling returned 10 varsity players and added 6-foot-5 freshman Lily Gray. The roster had highlighted seniors Kali Briar, Makenna Linden and Sadie Beagley. Briar has signed with Sterling College. Rowland stands at 267-103 in her career, including 247-81 with the Black Bears. She has been at Sterling for 14 years. Sterling has reached state six times in the last decade, including five final fours. This winter, Sterling was also the lone squad to defeat Central Plains, the 1A-II state champions.
Class 1A-I: Scott Goering, Pretty Prairie
Pretty Prairie was ranked fifth in the preseason and a senior-laden group led the Bulldogs to its first state appearance since 2000. PP earned a 37-35 win against Centralia in the state championship game. It marked the first state girls’ basketball title in program annals. Alum Scott Goering helped Pretty Prairie with the turnaround behind the program’s hallmarks of defense and rebounding. The Bulldogs advanced to its first final since 1996.
PP permitted just 25.1 points a contest, one of the best scoring defenses in Kansas history. The Bulldogs finished 25-1 with a 38-37 loss to Heart of the Plains League rival Norwich on Jan. 14. PP defeated Norwich, 33-19, on Jan. 29, and 38-16 in the sub-state championship.
In its last six games, PP beat Central Christian (38-25), Wichita Classical (49-13), Norwich (38-16), Osborne (52-33), Hodgeman County (37-32) and Centralia (37-35). Both Hodgeman County and Centralia were undefeated. Overall, CC, Norwich, Osborne, HC and Centralia were a combined 112-7 when not playing Pretty Prairie. Many of the same girls led Pretty Prairie to a state runner-up volleyball finish.
For 40-plus years, the state scoring defense record was 26.2 points allowed a contest by Golden Plains in 1974. Central Plains allowed 24.5 in ’18-19 to break the mark. Then, CP holds the current mark with 21.2 permitted in 2020. PP finished plus-8 on the glass against both Hodgeman County and Centralia.
Pretty Prairie had no girls score in double figures in the semifinal win against Hodgeman County. On average, HC was plus-9 on the glass before the contest. Goering graduated from Pretty Prairie in 2005 and is 74-22 in four seasons coaching the Bulldog girls, including 44-5 the last two. He is head middle school football coach and assistant track coach. At state, PP collectively held teams to 25.6 percent shooting.
PP has five seniors: standout post McKenna Vogl (Barton CC signee), Abigail White, Aubrey Young, Grace Webster and point guard Jorah Harbaugh. PP had superb efficiency rates: 1.03 points per possession, 0.44 points allowed a possession, 42 percent rate of collecting available offensive rebounds and turnovers on just 19.9 percent of possessions.
Class 1A-II: Parker Christensen, Rexford-Golden Plains
Golden Plains was fourth in the preseason and finished second to eight-time defending champion Central Plains. Golden Plains finished 24-1 and had the third state runner-up in school history and second under longtime coach Parker Christensen. GP has just four losses in the last four seasons and has by far the longest current regular season winning streak in Kansas. The Bulldogs are 94-4 in that stretch with competitive losses to Central Plains at the last two state tournaments. This year tied the school mark for single season victories.
Golden Plains excels with fundamentals and defense and plays with calmness and confidence. Their shooting shirts read: “Play hard, play smart, play together, have fun,” the team’s keys. On state semifinal Friday, senior star Kassie Miller said the Bulldogs had a compliment at Freddy’s for the team meal. The people said GP girls are “respectful and they stick together.”
GP graduated first team all-league picks Ashley and Brooke Stoll from 2020-21. Miller, a first team all-state pick, finished with 16.8 points, six rebounds, 4.8 steals, and 4.1 assists per game. Golden Plains had big improvements from Rayna Taylor (nine points/game), Morgan Wark (7.5 rebounds/contest), and Breanna Rath (3.3 steals/contest, SIK all-state tournament team with Miller). Golden Plains showed its depth in a semifinal win against Hutchinson Central Christian when Miller didn’t make a shot until the second half – though the Bulldogs still led.
Miller finished her career with 1,245 points, fourth best all-time in school annals. Overall, Golden Plains had just 11.1 turnovers a contest, was plus-8.9 rebounding margin, held teams to 29.7 percent shooting and just nine free throw attempts a game. GP beat rival Wheatland-Grinnell three times, including for the league tournament crown and a comeback win in the sub-state title game. Christensen, a Golden Plains alum, is 398-262 in 28 years, including 213-33 in the last 10. Including all junior high and varsity, he is 680-482. Since 2006, he has eight state appearances, six final fours.
Miller’s older sister, KayCee, a former Golden Plains all-state pick, served as assistant coach. In pregame, Golden Plains has four keys. One is less than 14 turnovers. Another is “attack the basket” and be the first team to get to 1-and-1 in a contest. Golden Plains tries to reach double figures every quarter.
Legendary Central Plains coach Pat Stiles has won 1A Coach of the Year several years running, including all classes in 2020. Stiles is 229-5 in the last nine seasons, including eight state titles and an undefeated Forever Four in 2020.
The Golden Plains Booster Club and Golden Plains School are so proud of what Coach Parker Christensen has accomplished with our girls basketball team not just this year, but every season. We appreciate his knowledge of the game, his commitment to the school and to the team, and his unending support of the Golden Plains Community. Congratulations on this hard-earned, well-deserved award. Golden Plains Booster Club