By CONOR NICHOLL
HAYS – Phillipsburg girls’ basketball has a tradition after big wins. Immediately after the game ends, the players rush to the locker room and grab the water bottles. The Panthers spray coaches Rachel Miller and Robin Sides when they enter.
On Friday, Phillipsburg orchestrated the celebration after a 44-40 double-overtime road victory against Thomas More Prep-Marian at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. In an unforgettable game on a remarkable night of critical girls’ basketball contests throughout Kansas, the Panthers twice rallied late.
Phillipsburg led 33-29 with 1 minute, 9 seconds left when TMP star senior post Emilee Lane sunk a trey from the left side and drew a foul. Lane converted the free throw for the highly rare 4-point play. The game stayed at 33 entering the first overtime. Phillipsburg led 38-35 with under 10 seconds left when Lane tied the game on another 3.
In the second OT, Panther junior point guard Taryn Sides, the state’s leading scorer and Kansas State commit, sank an elbow jumper to break a 40-40 tie. Phillipsburg went up three. TMP had another chance to tie late, though missed a 3. The Panthers received 26 points and 19 rebounds from Sides. Lane, a Nebraska-Kearney volleyball commit and four-year starter in two sports, countered with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was going to be a slugfest, and it was,” Miller said. “We took blow after blow. I am just so stinkin’ proud of those girls. You are not supposed to win in overtime after they hit a big shot to end the (regulation). You are not supposed to win in second overtime when they hit a big shot to end overtime, so I am just so proud of their effort, their mentality, their mindset, and kudos to TMP for making big shots.”
Plus, Phillipsburg fought through an injury to key senior reserve Caitlyn Cheney. Junior Jaelyn Miller drew hard contact multiple times, including getting bonked in the nose. Once Miller was supposed to come out of the game, but waved off the coaching staff, saying she was OK. Freshman Karissa Keeten hit key foul shots down the stretch. Keeten had tearful emotions in the postgame handshake line.
When the locker room door opened postgame and the players walked down the narrow hallway, freshman Kayla Jacobs told Keeten, “I am so proud of you.” Then, the coaches emerged with soaked hair and wet clothes from the celebration.
“The exuberance of finally making it to the end,” Miller said. “We thought we had it won. You never want to (think that), but you did. You were banking on defense to get a stop, and you think you have it won again, so I think it just that relief and that excitement to know they didn’t give up, they fought to the end, and we got the W.”
Phillipsburg, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, improved to 13-4. TMP, ninth in 3A, lost for the first time since the season’s third game and went to 14-3.
Rematches, flipped results, big individual numbers, records
Phillipsburg/TMP marked one of more than 10 games involving ranked girls’ teams in what was probably the best night of high school girls’ basketball this year. A high majority of these matchups had two ranked squads involved in a contest that had league and classification ramifications. Many of the games were rematches from earlier in the winter, including several results that flipped.
In addition to Sides and Lane, multiple girls had remarkable stat lines and/or school records either on Tuesday or Friday. Burlingame senior four-sport standout Daelyn Winters broke her own school mark for most 3s made in a season. On Tuesday, she also set the Bearcat single game 3-point record in an 81-18 win on Senior Night versus Crest.
On Friday, Herington quietly moved to 11-5 and clinched a fourth straight winning season behind a 48-28 win versus Goessel in Wheat State League action.
Herington, which graduated 2A player of the year finalist Carrie Roe, has a chance for its most wins since ’08. Senior shooting guard Tristyn Kremeier had 15 points on four treys versus Goessel. She moved to 46 made treys, which broke her school record of 45 set her sophomore year. Her last 3 came several feet behind the line in the final seconds versus Goessel.
Anderson County, with one senior, improved to 8-6 after a 49-28 win versus Osawatomie on Tuesday and 39-32 against Iola on Friday. Overall, sophomore Kylie Disbrow has averaged 12.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and a Kansas-best 6.2 blocks a game. On Tuesday, Disbrow delivered 21 points, 27 rebounds and 13 blocks a game.
On Senior Night on Friday, Mill Valley’s Emree Zars delivered 36 points in a 61-49 win versus Shawnee Mission North.
On Friday, Cheney senior Brynn McCormick cleared 1,000 career points in a prolific career split between Scott City and the Cardinal program. McCormick has been to the state tournament all three years and helped Cheney to an undefeated 3A state title last winter. This season, she is the top scorer for a Cardinal squad that is statistically better defensively than last winter.
Class 3A No. 3 Cheney beat 2A No. 8 Garden Plain, 49-24 in a big Central Plains League rivalry contest. Cheney jumped out to a 26-2 lead. Campbell Hague posted 17 points, and McCormick delivered 13. The Cardinals improved to 13-3 with its seventh straight victory.
Cheney had lost, 51-40, to Garden Plain on Jan. 11. This time, the Cardinals held GP to 5 of 36 shooting. The Cardinals have limited teams to 29 percent shooting, 23 percent from 3-point range, per SIK research and Digital Scout archives.
Three ranked teams, five MCL teams – combined total margin 20 points
Last Friday, the Monarchs defeated Smith Center (13-4, No. 5 in 2A) at home by seven points.
“TMP is a darn good team,” Smith Center coach Nick Linn told SIK. “I am kind of glad they are 3A going down the road. But it’s these kind of games tonight that’s going to help my team.”
That marked the last meeting between Smith Center senior Tallon Rentschler and Lane, both multiple-time all-state selections.
“It’s awesome competition, we need it,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said.
Rentschler is the 2A Player of the Year for SC’s state-winning volleyball team this fall. She had 21 points versus TMP, and 28 in Smith Center’s win against Norton on Friday.
“It’s been that way for how many years now – and in two sports,” Linn said. “…We all have a high respect for each other. I do for their program. I think Rose does for our program, and those two girls, they have a high appreciation for each other. Before the game and after the game, they are good friends, during the game, they are enemies.”
All three teams have had injuries. Phillipsburg has missed key junior Heather Schemper all season from a knee injury suffered in volleyball. SC didn’t have Gracie Kirchhoff, a top-six player for the Lady Red, because of concussion protocol. The Monarchs have had various injuries/players out and key senior Kassidi Yost returned for the Smith Center victory.
“They are well-rounded,” Linn said. “They have got the inside game that can kill you if you don’t play really smart basketball, and they got 3-point shooters, and that’s tough to guard both.”
TMP won the midseason league tournament without Yost, with Phillipsburg second and Smith Center third. The teams have played a combined five games against each other this winter. They are decided by 20 total points.
In league play, they all beat each other. In an extreme rarity, all three will likely share the MCL regular season title. Phillipsburg and TMP could meet for a third time this season at the Goodland sub-state.
“The MCL title is going to through Smith Center, and TMP and Phillipsburg, and we were hoping we could be in that mix again this year,” Miller said. “It’s just fun. It’s competitive. Nobody wants to give an inch on any possession, and you know that you are in for a fight. And that’s every night in the MCL, but that’s really the night for those (three) teams.”
Phillipsburg, a state tournament qualifier the last two winters, has just three seniors, including two, Cheney and Abby Babcock, who see consistent playing time. The Panthers use multiple freshman. All five TMP starters have started for multiple years. Smith Center has an experienced core group.
“We are young,” Taryn Sides said. “We have a lot of new players coming up, stepping up on varsity, the other two teams, that have almost everyone back, so we are still learning. It’s been fun. Yeah, we would like those two games back that we lost, but we just learn from them, and came out with a W tonight.”
On Jan. 18, SC defeated Phillipsburg, 52-51. Sides, who has averaged around 27 points and 10 rebounds this season and already has multiple school records, resolved to not lose again. Since then, Phillipsburg has won three straight, including a quality victory versus Hoisington (9-7) last Thursday.
“Ever since we had that loss to Smith Center, we were tired of losing,” Sides said. “We are going to do everything we can to win, and we did that.”
Sides labeled herself “really shy” as a freshman and has learned to become more vocal this winter. She often vocalized where players should be Friday. Sides, listed at 5-6, has a special knack for rebounding and hustle. On one second quarter possession, Sides missed a 3 from the left side, ran in and collected the offensive rebound on the right side. McFarland said Sides has “got a lot of energy” and can “go, go, go.”
Phillipsburg missed again, and Sides ran down the carom near midcourt. Then, she finished the possession with a trey. She helped TMP, an efficient offense that is finally at full strength after injuries/missed games to three starters, to 25 percent shooting. Phillipsburg finished plus-eight on the glass.
“Those really good rebounders, they just have a knack for where that ball is going to hit off of, and she is just so quick,” Miller said. “Her first step is so quick. She can elevate. It’s a joy to watch, because it’s hustle, it’s heart but she just knows how to time in and knows where it’s going to go.”
Key Friday results:
4A No. 1 Wellington 46, 4A No. 5 Andale 34
This was one of more anticipated games in Kansas. First, Wellington beat Andale, 62-54, on Dec. 14. The Dec. 7 win versus Cheney and the Andale victory jumpstarted the Crusaders’ dream undefeated season. Wellington, featured on SIK last week, is loaded with talent, especially defensively with Ali and Britt Zeka, Valerie Norwood, Ashlyn Gerten and Airalyn Frame.
In the first meeting, Wellington coach Eric Adams coached against his friend, Andale coach Ted Anderson. Last month, Anderson untimely passed away. The win put Wellington firmly in the lead for an AVCTL Division IV crown. Wellington has one ever ACTVL Division IV championship in 2015, per Sumner Newscow research.
On Friday, Wellington wore Andale T-shirts that read “Coach A” to honor Anderson. Wellington is 16-0, and Andale dropped to 11-4. Britt Zeka delivered 21 points as Wellington pulled away in the second half.
6A No. 2 Topeka High 46, 6A No. 3 Washburn Rural 42
Topeka High improved to 16-0 and defeated its big Centennial League rival for the second time this season. The Trojans don’t have post NiJaree Canady, a top-five all-classes selection last winter, 6A softball player of the year and Stanford softball commit. Canady elected to not play softball. Topeka High has Kiki Smith, Talayah Thomas and Adisyn Carl. The win puts Topeka High firmly in the top slot for the No. 1 seed in 6A West. Topeka High beat Rural, 45-39, on Jan. 4.
This time, Rural led 10-8 after the first quarter and Topeka held a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Smith delivered 14 points, Thomas had 11 and Carl finished with seven on 3 of 4 shooting and 10 rebounds. Topeka made 12 of 15 from the foul line. The seniors are 84-5 in their careers.
Credit coach Hannah Alexander for keeping Topeka elite with Canady. She is on the short list for 6A Coach of the Year.
1A-II No. 3 Rexford-Golden Plains 58, 1A-II No. 9 Wheatland-Grinnell 32
Golden Plains remained as 1A-II’s only undefeated team and continued by far the state’s longest current regular season winning streak. GP has not lost in the regular season since Feb. 15, 2018. Wheatland-Grinnell is GP’s top threat in the Western Kansas Liberty League. GP defeated W-G, 57-49, to win the WKLL title last Saturday.
This time, the game was tied at 13 after the first quarter. Then, GP outscored the Thunderhawks, 18-4, in the second quarter and 13-3 in the third. Golden Plains improved to 15-0.
The teams are also in the Sharon Springs sub-state and are favored to meet again in the postseason.
4A No. 10 Fort Scott 55, 4A No. 8 Labette County 53
Fort Scott has quietly emerged as a big surprise. Both teams entered 12-3. LC beat Fort Scott, 41-37, on Jan. 4. FS was a combined 14-27 the last two seasons. Fort Scott had lost six in a row and was 1-13 in the last 14 in the series.
5A No. 1 Salina Central 58, Class 5A No. 4 Goddard 40
For the second time this season, SC beat Goddard in a key ACVTL matchup. Salina Central and senior Aubrie Kierscht continue to move closer to team and individual 3-point state records. SC is 16-0 and remained the No. 1 team in 5A and the lone undefeated squad in the classification. The Mustangs have defeated every team by at least 14 points.
SC and defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas have separated as the two heavy favorites in 5A girls. Kierscht finished with 20 points, and Mykayla Cunningham tallied 13. The Mustangs pulled away in the fourth quarter. Goddard, a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December, is 12-4 behind star Maycee James. The Lions have two losses apiece to Salina Central and Andover Central.
1A-I No. 8 Norwich 35, 1A-II No. 7 Attica 28
Norwich was 1-2 in its last three games with losses against Pretty Prairie and Hutchinson Central Christian, both ranked teams. The Eagles combined for just 37 points in the losses. Norwich improved to 14-2, and Attica is 11-4. Norwich is 16-1 in the last 17 games versus Attica.
1A-I No. 1 Centralia 33, 2A No. 2 Valley Heights 29
Centralia bolstered the best resume in the classification and improved to 16-0. The Panthers also defeated Valley Heights, 42-40, in the Twin Valley League championship Jan. 22. Those are the lone two losses for Valley Heights.
1A-II No. 5 Hanover 52, NR Doniphan West 45
Also in the TVL, Hanover beat Doniphan West for the second time this season.
3A No. 5 Eureka 52, NR Bluestem 31
Eureka improved to 14-1 and earned a sizable Tri-Valley League victory against surprise Bluestem. The Tornadoes, with legendary coach Shelly Hoyt, sit atop the Prairie View sub-state that has five teams at 9-6 or better entering Friday.
Bluestem is 14-3, though is part of the Dexter sub-state with Garden Plain. This marked Bluestem’s first loss since Jan. 4.
Sunflower League top games:
6A No. 1 Olathe North 45, 6A No. 10 Shawnee Mission South 31
6A No. 6 Shawnee Mission Northwest 42, 6A No. 4 Shawnee Mission West 33
NR Olathe Northwest 50, NR Olathe West 45
The Sunflower League contests to have key results that mainly shape Class 6A. Northwest is the defending 6A state champion. West has S’Mya Nichols. She and Taryn Sides are considered the state’s best juniors. Olathe North remains undefeated behind its bevy of stars and looks for the best season in school history. Northwest picked up a nice win behind 17 points from Skyler Pierce and a big 3-pointer from senior Zoie Dible on Senior Night.
Olathe North is 16-0 and has allowed under 37 points in the last five contests. SMS is 11-6.
Northwest improved to 13-3, and West is 14-2. ONW, which pulled an upset against Shawnee Mission Northwest earlier this year, is 10-5. West stands at 8-8. As always, also check out Sunflower Smack for more on the Sunflower League. They provide excellent coverage of the SL and Eastern Kansas League.