Sports in Kansas has released its annual player of the year honors. A media panel of over 35 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. Postseason honors are powered by Watco, Mammoth, Nex-Tech Wireless, SAFE, Lewis Automotive Group.
Be on the lokoout for all-state teams being released later this week from Sports in Kansas by class. We also have patches available for postseason honors at [email protected] and we will have an apparel shop opening after the all-state teams are launched for t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies to remember your 2022-2023 season.
Finalists lists are on the mainpage of the website.
Thanks to the media members who participated in voting for our player of the year honors and a big shout out to all of the coaches and athletic directors who continue to send in their stats to us all season over the last several years.
Below are the players of the year from the 2022-2023 girls basketball season in Kansas.
Sports in Kansas All-Classes & 6A Girls’ Player of the Year: Addy Brown, Derby
Three KSHSAA girls have earned McDonald’s All-American honors: Bishop Miege’s Payton Verhulst and the Brown girls from Derby: Kennedy and Addy. Kennedy currently starts for Duke. Addy is headed to Iowa State and is considered a top-30 national recruit. Addy also earned Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and helped the Panthers to second place last winter and third place this season.
Derby finished 22-3 and Brown had a remarkably historic year. She led the Panthers in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. Brown and S’Mya Nichols are Kansas’ best prospects for the Class of 2023 per Prep Girls Hoops.
By comparison, just five NBA players since 1973-74 have ever led their teams in points, rebounds, blocks, assists and steals in a single season. Brown averaged 20.3 points per game and shot 55 percent from the field. She also finished with 10.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks a contest. She is a four-time first team all-state player and three-time conference player of the year.
Brown finished with 1,482 points, second-most in Panther history. Brown finished with 825 rebounds, top-five all season. Plus, Brown’s 305 assists ranked top-two in Panther annals. Brown shot 58 percent in four years.
Brown’s team won AAU nationals last summer. She called Kobe Bryant and her entire family her role models. Brown loves sneakers, along with mac and cheese. She ate mac and cheese before every high school game. Derby was ranked tenth by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association in the preseason and easily finished above outside expectations.
“Even though we didn’t end the way we wanted to, I’m super proud of my team and what we were able to accomplish,” Brown said. “No one thought we would even make it to the state tournament at the beginning of the season and we put our heads down and went to work. This was my most enjoyable season yet!”
Shout out to Addy Brown, our shining star athlete and student intern at Citizens Bank of Kansas – Derby High School Branch. #TeamCBK
Congratulations Addy Brown! We are proud of your hard work, character, and leadership! From all your friends at Bodyworx Physical Therapy & Concussion Center https://www.bodyworxphysicaltherapy.net/
Sports in Kansas 5A Girls’ Player of the Year: Mariyah Noel, Bonner Springs
Bonner Springs’ senior Mariyah Noel finished as the state’s leading scorer with 28 points per game. Noel has committed to Ole Miss and is ranked as the state’s No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2023, per Prep Girls Hoops. Noel also contributed 11 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. Noel was a top-10 finalist for the Direnna Award, named to the top player in the Kansas City area. She was first team all-league volleyball and a two-time discus state championship.
Noel won the 5A POY honor in a close race over St. James’ Riley Bruggeman and Andover’s Brooke Walker.
Noel called this season “one to remember” and said hitting 1,000 career points was a “great sports moment.” Noel likes seafood and called her family her role models. Per 247Sports, Ole Miss offered her last spring after watching her just on film. Then, Ole Miss saw Noel at an AAU tournament and then again at the Rebels’ elite camp. Noel didn’t start playing basketball until middle school. Ole Miss was the first Power 5 school to offer Noel. As a junior, Noel averaged 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.
Sports in Kansas 4A Girls’ Player of the Year: Kirston Verhulst, Bishop Miege
Bishop Miege sophomore Kirston Verhulst called her older sister, Payton, her role model. Verhulst has followed in Payton’s footsteps has a 4A player of the year. Payton was a Bishop Miege McDonald’s All-American and is currently on Oklahoma’s roster.
Kirston, the second-youngest of six children, enjoyed a mammoth freshman season for the Stags’ state title winning year. This winter, Verhulst helped Bishop Miege capture another title after plenty of adversity. Verhulst has a strong case as Kansas’ best shooter.
In March 2021, Miege won state in Payton’s senior season. Terry English retired after 910 career wins and became assistant for his son, Jeff. After last season, Jeff resigned, and Terry became the coach again. Then, Terry suddenly passed away.
Former assistant Kevin Mulvany became head coach. Miege played a regional schedule that included losses to Oklahoma national powers and a defeat to Incarnate Word (Mo.), which has the nation’s longest current winning streak.
As a freshman, Verhulst collected 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two steals per game. In the fall, Verhulst was honorable mention all-league and helped Miege win state volleyball.
This winter, Verhulst delivered 17 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.7 assists per game. Verhulst is ranked as the state’s No. 4 prospect in the Class of 2025, per Prep Girls Hoops. Verhulst scored 28 points in a state quarterfinal win against one-loss Wellington. Entering the contest, Wellington allowed 28 points per game.
In the 67-53 state championship against McPherson, Verhulst delivered 27 points, including 14 of 16 from the free throw line. This marked the 24th state title for Miege, which extends the Stags’ state record.
For the season, Verhulst made 61 treys and shot 43.6 percent from beyond the arc. Overall, Miege made 192 treys for 31 percent from long range. She also shot 47 percent from the field and 72 percent from the foul line.
As a freshman, Verhulst was 49 percent from the field, 42.3 pecent from 3-point range (47-111) and 79 percent from the foul line, per KC High School Hoops. The 5-foot-9 Verhulst has Division I interest, including from Drake.
Congrats to Kirston Verhulst on the 2023 SIK 4A Player of the Year. Eclipse family proud! – Elipse Basketball
Congratulations to Kirston Verhulst of Bishop Miege High School on your 4A Player of the Year honor. The Stag community is proud of you and your team! – Bishop Miege High School
Sports in Kansas 3A Girls’ Player of the Year: Talexa Weeter. Goodland/Taryn Sides, Phillipsburg
First off, this class was absolutely loaded full of talent, including multiple Division I and Division II signees in multiple sports. Throughout the winter, Goodland and Phillipsburg were undefeated and ranked first and second in 3A. They were led by their stars and record-breaking seniors: Goodland’s Talexa Weeter and Phillipsburg’s Taryn Sides.
Weeter has signed with Fort Hays and paced Goodland to back-to-back 3A state titles, including an undefeated mark this year and the state’s longest current winning streak. Sides has inked with Kansas State and led the Panthers to a 25-1 season and third-place finish in the Class 3A, the best year in Phillipsburg annals. Weeter and Sides were both top-5 all classes and share 3A player of the year. Sides earned top-5 all-classes and co-3A player of the year as a junior.
Goodland has won 39 straight games. In MaxPreps’ final all-statistical rankings, the Cowgirls ranked third for all classes and Phillipsburg seventh. Three 3A teams finished in the top-nine, four in the top-14 and five in the top-21 and seven in the top-25 in the MaxPreps rankings, remarkable depth in a historically great year for the classification.
Weeter and Sides led a complete reshaping of sports in their school. Weeter and her seniors combined for more than 200 career wins in volleyball and basketball, including three straight state trips in the fall. Both sports were generally under .500 for multiple years before the Goodland seniors entered high school. Phillipsburg had three state basketball trips in Sides’ four seasons; the Panther girls had never previously made the state tournament.
The Topside Tipoff tournament is held every December. Weeter set the Topside records for most points in a single game and tournament, including breaking her mom’s mark. Weeter is the Goodland record holder for most points in a single season. She averaged 23.3 points per game and delivered 1,639 points in her career. Weeter finished with 550 rebounds, or 5.7 per game, and 221 steals. In her career, Weeter shot 83 percent from the line, 47 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range.
Weeter’s quotes as “unexplainable” and “grind for greatness.” Weeter called the back-to-back state championships her best career moments. At state, Weeter finished with 83 points in three games, which easily led the field. She made 9 of 19 (47 percent) from 3-point range, along with 20 of 26 from the foul line. Sides delivered 63 points at state, which ranked second. She was 21 of 54 at state. Both Sides and Weeter had at least one 30-point game at state.
Sides averaged 23.5 points a game this season and finished her career with 2,166 points, No. 16 all-time in Kansas history. A four-year first team 3A all-state pick, Sides is one of the best players in state annals. Sides averaged eight rebounds, five assists and five steals a contest.
Congrats to Talexa Weeter on the 3A Basketball Player of the Year from Sports in Kansas. The Black and Gold Booster Club, Goodland High School, and the Goodland Community are very proud of you and our back-to-back state champions
Congrats to our very own Talexa Weeter on Top 5 All-Classes and the 3A POY from Sports in Kansas. Wheat State Elite Basketball & Dylan Evans proudly support high school basketball in the state of Kansas!
Congratulations Taryn! We have enjoyed being a part of your journey the last four years and look forward to continuing to watch you grow as a player and a person. We are proud of you for your work ethic, humbleness, and positive leadership. Keep pursuing your dreams! Congratulations–Cody, Rachel, Cooper, Casey, and Chisum – 4C Land and Auction, Phillipsburg KS, owners Cody and Rachel Miller
Congratulations Taryn Sides for being named the 3A Player of the Year and All Class Top 5. We are proud of you and can’t wait to see you in purple! Ultimate Image Photography, 269 Parklane Rd., Phillipsburg, KS, 785-533-6510, owners Robin Sides and Amber Buresh
Congratulations Taryn! We are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments! Grandpa Dale and Grandma Shirley (Sides Farm)
2A Girls’ Player of the Year: Taylor Weishaar, Riverside
On the girls’ side, Riverside and 1A-I runner-up Quinter enjoyed the two biggest turnarounds off 2021-22. Riverside had just 28 total wins in the last six seasons, including a 10-12 mark last winter. This season, Riverside went to state for the first time since the school was formed and completed a 22-4 record and 2A state runner-up.
Junior Taylor Weishaar edged out Lily Brown of Colgan in voting as the 2A player of the year after she led the Cyclones to the remarkable season under first-year coach Craig Burns with 19 points per game and 11 rebounds per contest, plus knocking off the #1 team in the state in the state semifinals in one of the greatest comebacks in 2A state history. Last winter in 2021-2022, Weishaar collected 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2.4 steals, two blocks and 1.4 steals a contest. Weishaar also went over 1,000 career points this season as a junior.
Weishaar paced the 2A state tournament with 19.7 points per game and tallied 59 points in the three contests. The 6-foot-2 junior post scored 16 points and eight rebounds in the title game loss to Berean Academy. Riverside beat undefeated Pittsburg Colgan, 45-42, in overtime in the state semifinals. Riverside came back from 18 down in the first quarter and 14 back entering the fourth quarter. Weishaar finished with 19 points. Riverside went 5-1 in games decided by six points or fewer. The Cyclones were the lone team to defeat Colgan. Riverside beat eventual 1A-I champion Doniphan West by three and 20-win Nemaha Central by four.
Congratulations Taylor on being named Sports in Kansas 2A Player of the year. We are proud of you!!! Love Mom & Dad.
Congrats to the 2023 2A Player of the Year Taylor Weishaar of Riverside High School. Farmers State Bank proudly supports Riverside Athletics. Congrats to the Lady Cyclones on a great season.
Congratulations Taylor Weishaar for displaying excellence on and off the court. Euler Law Offices, LLC
Congratulations Taylor Weishaar for your outstanding accomplishments. Great work Lady Cyclones! MCon, LLC
Riverside USD 114 is very proud of our 2A Player of the Year Taylor Weishaar. You and the Lady Cyclones gave us one amazing ride!
Sports in Kansas 1A-I Girls’ Player of the Year: Anna Briggs, Quinter
Quinter girls’ basketball coach Matt Havlas walked up to the Bulldogs’ 6-foot-2 senior post Anna Briggs in the postgame medal ceremony after the 1A-I state championship game. Quinter lost, 55-49, to Doniphan West and finished 22-4.
Havlas thanked Briggs for moving back.
“I thanked her for a great season,” Havlas said.
Briggs is part of a longtime Quinter family. As a freshman, she averaged 8.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks a contest. In her sophomore year, Briggs delivered 12.4 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks per game. She collectively finished 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Because of the passing of her mother and family reasons, Briggs moved to York, Neb. her junior year. Briggs enjoyed a big season for a 21-5 York team. Briggs led York with 9.2 points and 3.1 blocks per contest. Briggs made one trey. York posted an undefeated home record and Briggs set the single season blocks record.
For her senior year, Briggs moved back to Quinter and played the summer with her former teammates. Briggs is part of an extended family with six girls.
In 2021-22, Quinter went through an injury-plagued season and finished with eight wins. In December, SIK wrote that Quinter was the “easiest team” to have on the Potential Breakout Teams list and a “true state contender.” Havlas and veteran assistant Scott Crist engineered a 14-win turnaround that included a December Castle Rock Classic tournament championship, a Northwest Kansas League tournament title and the second-best state finish in program history.
Briggs finished with 16.5 points, 46 percent shooting, 10.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks, all team-bests. She was second for all classes in blocks.
Plus, Briggs significantly upped her 3-point shooting, especially from the top of the arc. Briggs finished 21 of 59 (36 percent) from long range, including a huge 3 in the final two minutes of the semifinal comeback win against Frankfort. In the win, she finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. She delivered 15 double-doubles and two triple-doubles.
QHS mainly played six Bulldogs and received key contributors from senior point guard Cashlyn Kvasnicka, juniors Saige Betz, Kelsey Selensky and Kennedy Werth and sophomore Bryn Gillespie. Overall, Briggs finished with 1,091 points, 853 rebounds and 392 blocks.
“We had girls play with Anna that made Anna good, too,” Havlas said. “It still was a team effort. To get what I think the Division I player of the year back on your team all year, it was great.”
She has been recruited at the Division II and NAIA level, including Tabor. Briggs said her father, Bart, is her role model because he is the hardest worker she knows and helped grow the love for basketball. Briggs played six different sports in her high school career.
“I am so grateful for the great teammates, coaches, and accomplishments I’ve been blessed with my senior year,” Briggs said.
Congratulations Anna, we are proud of you for being named Kansas 1AD1 player of the year! – Grandma and Grandpa
Congraulations to Anna Briggs of Quinter High School on the Kansas 1A-I Player of the Year! We are proud of you! Dad, Amy, Lilly, Addie, Baylie, Tatum and Amelia
Sports in Kansas 1A-II Girls’ Player of the Year: Brooklyn Jones, Lebo
Lebo senior Brooklyn Jones has a strong case as Kansas’ best all-around athlete. Jones was first team all-state volleyball and helped Lebo beat Hanover for the state title in the fall. In basketball, Lebo went 25-1 and lost to Hanover, 59-34, in the 1A-II state championship game. Lebo and Hanover were both undefeated.
Jones averaged 19 points and 4.5 steals per game. Her supporting cast was superb; Audrey Peek delivered 18 points and Saige Hadley 16 a contest who will both contend for 1A-II honors. Jones is the returning 1A state javelin champion and has committed to Kansas State track. She is the school javelin record holder and has thrown 143 feet, 5 inches. She is one of the best throwers in the country and is coached by former WSU javelin All-American Aaron True who prepped at nearby Southern Coffey County.
Jones cleared 1,000 career points. Lebo boys were state runner-up to Tribune-Greeley County. This marked the first time the Wolves’ boys and girls teams reached the final four in the same year. Hanover and Lebo were the top-two teams in the classification all season.
Congrats to Brooklyn Jones on the 1A DII Player of the Year from Sports in Kansas. We have enjoyed watching you and are so proud of you! -Douglas & Marcia Birk
Congratulations to Brooklyn Jones for receiving Sports in Kansas Player of the Year for 2023! The Grimmett family, as well as the Lebo Community are very proud of your many accomplishments! – Grimmett Concrete Construction, Jeff Grimmett