By CONOR NICHOLL
The first week-plus of the basketball season has seen No. 1 Topeka High girls earn a big win in a ranked matchup, losses to top-ranked boys teams Andover Central and Wichita Collegiate, and big individual performances across the state, including from freshmen girls at Topeka, Derby and Phillipsburg, along with Udall’s Brayden Sadler and Quinter’s Jaden Boone. Eureka girls’ coach Shelly Hoyt and Derby boys’ coach Brett Flory each hit major milestones, and Central Plains girls continue its record winning streak.
Topeka girls, ranked No. 1, earned a 61-44 victory versus K.C. Schlagle, ranked No. 8 in 5A on Tuesday in one of the state’s marquee early season contests. Topeka led 17-13 after the first quarter and 31-23 at halftime. Topeka had just eight of its 61 points from non-seniors. Freshman Kiki Smith finished with 21 points on nine of 16 shooting. Sophomore post Nijaree Canady had 12 points with six of 14 from the field. Senior Ariyana Grassity enjoyed a big game with six points, seven assists and four steals. Schlagle features Ishante Suttington (Hutchinson CC commit) and Camille Evans (Missouri Western commit).
Last Friday, Topeka rolled over Lawrence, 62-33. Smith delivered 21 points, while Canady tallied 25.
Also in a big non-conference game between ranked teams, Shawnee Mission Northwest girls defeated Washburn Rural, 52-46 on Tuesday. SMNW is ranked No. 8, and Washburn Rural stands third. WR is the defending state champions, but graduated Carly Bachelor, now at Creighton. SMNW opened last week with a 68-4 win versus KC Turner. Ericka Ojeda made five treys.
Both Derby squads opened with big wins. Derby graduated 6-foot-6 Kennedy Brown (Oregon State) and point guard Tor’e Alford, now at Hutchinson Community College after first committing to Missouri State. However, it’s possible that Derby is deeper – and perhaps better – than last winter. Derby is second, first and third in 3A the last three winters. Derby returns seniors Sydney Nilles (Newman signing) and Heather Mills. The Panthers also have juniors Katelyn Kennedy and 6-foot-3 Jaidyn Schomp. Sophomore Tatum Boettjer is 6-2. She transferred from Circle and had a huge impact in volleyball. As well, Derryana Cobbins has transferred in from Wichita Heights and is eligible in January. Plus, Derby has high-level freshmen Maryn Archer and 6-2 Addy Brown, Kennedy’s sister.
Derby opened with an 81-21 victory versus overmatched Arkansas City on Tuesday. The Panthers received 18 points from Archer in her high school debut and a career-high 16 from Mills. Derby receives its marquee matchup with McPherson on Friday. Derby boys won 86-30 versus a depleted squad hurt by suspension. The Derby Informer reported the win gave coach Brett Flory 123 victories, the all-time best in Panther basketball. Derby boys were ranked No. 10 in the preseason, but fell out this week.
In the season opener last week, Liberal girls led Holcomb, 7-6, at the end of the first quarter, but then outscored Holcomb, 21-6 in the second, and 23-5 in the third. The Redskins defeated Holcomb, 59-27. Liberal held Holcomb to 33 percent shooting.
Katie Horyna finished with 24 points, and Machia Mullens finished with 13. Horyna has signed with Division I Abilene Christian, and Mullens has signed with Division I UMKC. Liberal is ranked fifth in 6A.
Liberal defeated Hugoton, 59-42, on Tuesday.
Lawrence boys, ranked No. 7 in 6A this week, opened with a strong 70-55 victory versus Lee’s Summit (Mo.) in the first round of the Blue Valley Shoot-Out. Senior Mayson Quartlebaum led with 18 points.
Olathe West girls finished as Hays Shoot-Out runner-up with 2-1 record. OW defeated TMP-Marian (58-44) and Hays High (60-39) before a loss to Aquinas (56-23). Olathe West will play host to Liberal on Friday in a key non-league game. OW standout junior guards Mackenzie Hart and Bailey Collar each earned Shoot-Out all-tournament honors. It marked the first time OW has made a tournament championship game in its third season of existence. OW remains outside of the top-10.
On Tuesday, Olathe East and Olathe South both won first round games in the Olathe East Lady Hawks Basketball Classic. OS is ranked second in 6A, and OE stands ninth in 6A. Last Friday, OE beat Olathe North, 61-48, in a matchup of ranked teams. ON was ranked sixth in the preseason, but has now dropped out of the poll.
No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas girls again cruised to the Hays City Shoot-Out. Aquinas defeated Millwood (Okla.), 59-40, Manhattan, 51-26, and Olathe West, 56-23. The Saints remain undefeated in the Shoot-Out in three trips.
McPherson girls are ranked No. 2 behind St. Thomas Aquinas. The Bullpups opened with a 62-20 victory against Andover last Friday. McPherson has six seniors, including Emma Ruddle, Lakyn Schieferecke, Andrea Sweat, and Cassie Cooks, and junior guard Grace Pyle. Ruddle has signed with Fort Hays, while Schieferecke and Sweat have inked Washburn, and Cooks will play college volleyball at Graceland. Pyle has Division I offers. However, Ruddle and Schieferecke were unable to play. Pyle nearly had a triple-double. On Tuesday, McPherson beat Andover Central, 54-50, in overtime. Kassidy Beam was again the top scorer with 17 points, while Pyle finished with 16. McPherson continues to rank second in 5A this week.
McPherson boys lost to Andover, 82-63, in the season opener last Friday. Then, the Bullpups bounced back with a big win Tuesday versus Andover Central, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, and the defending 5A state champions. McPherson defeated AC, 52-47, after trailing, 40-39, after three quarters.
One of the bigger changes in the rankings came in Class 5A girls. Goddard was ranked No. 6 in the preseason, and then fell out of the top-10 after a 46-40 loss to Salina Central. SC, 12-10 a year ago, returned three key players with senior Kadyn Cobb, along with sophomores Hampton Williams and Aubrie Kierscht. Cobb has signed with Missouri Western, and Kierscht, the team’s leading scorer last year, had 22 points. Goddard senior Kade Hackerott, a Central Missouri signee, finished with 23 points.
Parsons boys has enjoyed an excellent first week. The Vikings went to the state tournament last fall, and return DaQuan Johnson, Dariq Williams and Zeke Lyons, all three who could achieve 1,000 career points. Johnson is the defending Sports in Kansas 4A Player of the Year with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists a contest.
Parsons beat defending 3A champion Girard, 62-37. Then, the Vikings defeated Wichita Collegiate, 79-62, led by 22 from Lyons and 16 from Johnson. WC is ranked No. 1 in 3A, and the Spartans have sophomore Gradey Dick, who has multiple Power 5 offers. Parsons is ranked third in 4A.
Circle girls took significant graduation losses, though moved from sixth to fifth in the coaches’ poll this week. Circle beat Rose Hill, 61-24, with a 20-2 first quarter in the season opener last Friday. Then, the T-Birds beat Independence, 46-34, with a 10-3 first quarter Tuesday. Versus Rose Hill, junior Kimalee Cook had 16 points, while senior Mallory Cowman finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Clearwater girls made the 158-mile trip east beat Labette County, 49-37, last Friday on the road. Clearwater was plus-six on the glass, had six blocks and held LC to 20 percent shooting. LC was fifth, and then dropped out of the rankings this week.
In the Hesston tournament on Tuesday, Nickerson girls beat Hesston, 41-36, in a matchup of ranked Central Kansas League teams. Nickerson is No. 3 in 4A, and Hesston is No. 9 in 3A.
Eureka girls moved from No. 10 to No. 9 in this week’s coaches rankings. Last Friday, Eureka coach Shelly Hoyt earned her 500th career victory with a 51-27 win versus Humboldt. Hoyt won 107 straight games with Hoxie, then the state record before Central Plains. Hoyt, in her third season with Eureka, paced the Tornadoes to a 20-win record and the first state appearance in school history last winter. Eureka has senior Emilee Escareno and the Ptacek sister trio: junior Chazni, sophomore Brooklyn and freshman Cadence. All three are Hoyt’s grandchildren. Their father, Brendan, is again Hoyt’s assistant coach. He had previously been the head boys’ coach at Wheatland-Grinnell.
Shelly and her husband, Scott, have four daughters. Jacie Hoyt is the head women’s basketball coach at University of Missouri-Kansas City. UMKC (5-5) delivered a landmark 59-56 victory versus University of Missouri on Sunday. Wichita South graduate Ericka Mattingly led with 18 points. It marked the first win versus Missouri since 1991. On Monday, Eureka defeated Remington, 54-27.
Mason Perez, a starter since his freshman year, is back for Larned after he suffered a season-ending injury in football. Perez helped Larned win 59-27. Brock Skelton tallied 15 points, while Perez delivered nine. Larned is ranked fourth in 3A boys.
Phillipsburg freshman Taryn Sides – like Derby’s freshmen duo – was highly acclaimed in the younger ranks. She opened her career with 22 points in a 47-38 victory at Ellis last Friday. Sides has two older brothers, Trey and Ty. Trey was a former 3A SIK Player of the Year and now sees significant minutes for Division I Jacksonville University. Phillipsburg boys lost 54-40 to Ellis last Friday, and then defeated host Russell, 62-61, on Monday in the first round of the Amos Morris Classic. Ty Sides had 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the Russell victory.
Scott City girls moved up a spot from No. 8 to No. 7 in Class 3A girls after the 104-15 victory versus Leoti-Wichita County last Friday. SC had a 30-4 edge in assists, shot 54 percent from the field and had 43 steals.
Last Friday, Nemaha Central girls, ranked No. 3 in 3A, beat Centralia, 61-39, behind 17 points from Alleigh Kramer.
On Tuesday, Anderson County girls pulled an upset versus Baldwin with a 53-52 victory. Baldwin had been fourth in the first two 4A rankings. Anderson County outscored Baldwin, 20-10, in the third quarter. Anderson County was 2-14 against Baldwin in the last 16 meetings, though did win 63-47 last season.
Garden Plain girls won 3A state two years ago and 2A last winter. This year, No. 1-ranked Garden Plain defeated Wichita Trinity, 51-50, in a pair of teams that feature several top players. Christia Rose Gorges gathered her own miss and scored the game-winner with five seconds left. GP has lost its top-three scorers from last winter with Abby Gordon, Lauren Danahy and Kara Heimerman. Danahy and Heimerman graduated, and Gordon, an Arkansas softball signing, is not on the roster. However, GP has five seniors: Kennedy Horacek, Claire Clark, Natasha Dooley, Taylor Meyer and Anna Smith, with juniors Alli Puetz and Gorges. Trinity Academy features junior Austin Broadie, a Washburn commitment for volleyball and basketball.
No. 4 WaKeeney-Trego defeated Dighton, 60-34, last Friday and then rolled over La Crosse, 58-11, with a 28-0 first quarter in the first round of the WaKeeney Purple and Gold tournament Monday.
Spearville girls started the season ranked No. 10 in Class 2A. However, the Lancers took a sizable jump to fifth in 2A this week after they started with a 69-33 road victory versus Ashland. Senior Ehlaina Hartman, an Emporia State commitment, finished with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting. Junior Alissa Heskamp had 25 points on nine of 13 shooting.
Then, Spearville went to the Gene Keady Classic at Larned and beat a solid Kinsley squad, 54-32. Hartman finished with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Heskamp tallied 12 points on 4 of 11, and senior Brianna Ede delivered 11, along with eight rebounds and three steals. Spearville is the favorite to win the Keady Classic this weekend.
Oakley girls have opened 2-0 with a quality 40-32 road victory versus Norton in the season opener, and then a win versus Jetmore-Hodgeman County in the first round of the WaKeeney-Trego Purple and Gold state tournament. Oakley was the runner-up to host WaKeeney in the tournament last season. Norton was a Class 3A final four squad last winter and led 20-12 after halftime.
Oakley outscored Norton, 13-5 in the third quarter, and 15-7 in the fourth quarter. The Plainsmen return first team all-Mid-Continent League senior Jordyn Albers and held Norton to 33 percent shooting, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range. Oakley had dropped eight straight to the Bluejays, including 49-28 last winter.
Belle Plaine boys, ranked No. 7 in 2A, opened with a 67-64 double overtime victory versus Hillsboro. Eli Wiseman finished with 35 points, and Austin Hilton had 20 points.
Central Plains girls bumped its winning streak to 113 games. CP opened with a 95-17 road victory versus Hoisington, its Barton County rival, last Friday. In the first round of the Amos Morris tournament in Russell on Monday, Central Plains defeated Smith Center, 75-17. Central Plains is well-known with senior point guard Emily Ryan (Iowa State signing), but have its host of talented players with returning senior starters Rachel Lamatsch, Delaney Rugan and Addison Crites. As well, CP has standout sophomore Kassidy Nixon and freshman Brynna Hammeke. Ryan delivered 44 in the Hoisington victory. Central Plains is ranked No. 1 in 1A.
South Gray girls, a 1A state qualification team last winter, has opened with a 65-31 victory versus Bucklin, and 62-38 at Cimarron. Against Bucklin, SG led 23-8 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, SG outscored Cimarron, 9-0. Christy Wiebe delivered 26 points and six rebounds against Bucklin, and tallied 26 again versus Cimarron. South Gray has been ranked fourth in 1A girls in both of the first two polls.
St. John boys, ranked No. 1 in 1A, opened with a 58-38 victory versus Stafford. SJ led 17-9 after the first quarter and 36-13 at halftime. The seniors combined for 44 points. Tanner Halling finished with 13 points, and senior Marshall Woolf delivered 12. SJ finished 19 of 33 from the free throw line. Last year, St. John had one game with more free throw attempts with 35 in a 52-46 win versus Hoisington on Dec. 7.
Beloit/St. John’s-Tipton girls are outside of the top-10 in the 1A rankings, and had opened with a 48-18 victory versus Natoma. Then, BSJT defeated 4A Ulysses, 50-31, in the first round of the Russell Amos Morris Classic this week. Lauryn Dubbert, one of the state’s top juniors, finished with 24 points in the Ulysses victory.
Quinter boys, with no seniors on its roster, opened 2-0. The Bulldogs won 49-33 at St. Francis and 41-30 versus Rawlins County. Sophomore Jaden Boone enjoyed a huge performance with 32 points on 15 of 23 shooting. St. Francis missed senior Brady Dinkel and junior Jesse Baxter because of injury. Baxter hurt his knee in the Eight-Man, Division I state championship runner-up loss to Canton-Galva. In the Rawlins County victory, Preston Havlas finished with 15 and Boone delivered 12. Quinter had dropped six in a row to SF.
Oxford’s Andrew Hills delivered 28 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-32 season-opening win versus Fairfield.
Udall boys beat South Haven, 62-45. Brayden Sadler finished with 36 points after he was one of the state’s top scorers last winter.
South Haven girls defeated Udall, 63-24. Senior guard Brittney Byers recorded 31 points.