Basketball in Kansas: How undefeated Ellinwood boys and Brit Dutton became historically offensively efficient

Undefeated Ellinwood is highly efficient on the offensive end behind Brit Dutton (with ball). Photo by Tessa Lickiss.


MACKSVILLE – Longtime Macksville boys’ basketball coach Jeff Kuckelman had recently watched film of Ellinwood senior guard Britton Dutton, who averages 27 points per game. Dutton has committed to Division II Illinois-Springfield. He has averaged at least 18 points a game all four years and should join the exclusive 2,000-point career club before the postseason.

On film, Kuckelman saw Ellinwood pass the ball ahead to the wing. Dutton was sprinting on the other side of the court.

“And he just cut and went down the lane line, and they fed him,” Kuckelman said. “And he’s one of those guys that even when he is going full speed, and they give him the ball at full speed, he’s totally under control, and just takes it up and lays it in and scores.”

“Some guys going full speed, they will kick it out of bounds, they won’t really catch it clean,” he added. “They will hurry the shot, brick it off the backboard or whatever. He can just go from 100 to zero and just be totally under control at all times.”

On Jan. 13, Ellinwood defeated Macksville, 69-56, in a matchup of then-undefeated Central Prairie League foes. This will likely decide the regular season CPL title. Macksville had its usual pressure defense designed to create turnovers. The Mustangs have steals on 20 percent of possessions, an elite rate. After a slow start, Dutton finished with 28 points on 11 of 16 shooting, along with six of eight from the foul line.

“Brit is a heckuva player,” Kuckelman said. “He got to the rim a lot. … When he gets in the lane, he is going to score, and he got in the lane too much.”

Overall, Ellinwood shot 54 percent from the field, including a remarkable 69 percent on 2-point shots. Macksville shot 40 percent on attempts inside the arc. Junior Alek Brack easily set his career high with 22 points, including 4 of 7 from long range.

“He loves this, and this is just in his blood work for a game like this,” Ellinwood coach Derek Joiner said. “I am not surprised. He has zero fear. He has no ounce of fear.”

In a game that had 67 possessions, Ellinwood averaged 1.03 points per possession. Overall, Macksville has allowed .66 points per possession.

“It was very fun,” Brack said. “It was fun getting this win. Fun playing with my teammates.”

Several weeks later, Ellinwood remains undefeated at 15-0 – and have enjoyed statistically historically great offensive efficiency. Ellinwood is currently ranked third in Class 2A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. The Eagles went 20-3 and returned 89 percent of its scoring from last year.

Last year, Ellinwood averaged 1.06 points per possession and allowed .66, per MaxPreps box scores and SIK research. The Eagles shot 49 percent from the field, 68 percent from the foul line. Ellinwood sunk 36 percent of its treys and made 110 3s.

This season, Ellinwood is hyper-efficient with a remarkable 1.19 points per possession and .61 allowed. The Eagles have lowered their turnover rate from 18 percent to 14.5 percent, another elite mark. Ellinwood has upped to 51 percent shooting, including 61 percent from 2-point shots.

Ellinwood’s offensive efficiency is the highest in recent state history.

During the last several years, SIK has ran efficiency numbers for more than 150 schools, including a high volume of state champions/final four teams. Dutton is Joiner’s nephew. Ellinwood has five seniors: Dutton, Koy Behnke, Parker Scheck and Asher Miller.

“We have focused on ourselves more than in the past, especially from my standpoint,” Joiner said. “I am not anxiety over the other team as much, watching every minute of every film, and then trying to translate that. I am just worried about us playing well, trying to enjoy our guys.”

By comparison, Maize boys scored 1.14 points per possession in its 5A state title team two years ago. Andover Central girls had 1.15 points per possession en route to a state runner-up in 2021. Hays High boys had 1.16 points per possession and went undefeated in the ’20-21 regular season.

Ellinwood is in the loaded 2A Sterling sub-state. The Eagles lead, followed by Inman (12-2), Moundridge (12-3), Sterling (10-4) and Remington (10-4). Ellinwood, Wichita Independent are the lone two 2A boy undefeated squads. Ellinwood has five state appearances, the last coming in 1984, per Kansas historian Carol Swenson.

“You have good players, they finish,” Joiner said. “Britton is an exceptional finisher, because he can use either hand, he is strong. He has got excellent ball handling skills.”

Joiner noted several reasons for the better offensive efficiency. In early season, Ellinwood rolled over several weaker foes that included turnovers to wide-open layups. However, Joiner said Ellinwood has made better choices. If Ellinwood doesn’t have a finish in the lane, they’ve made an extra pass, which Joiner said “has really been a difference.”

“Parker is a good finisher,” Joiner said. “And the other players are learning to be judicious about trying to finish. We have really worked on getting on two feet.”

In recent years, NBA and college teams have significantly worked on offensive efficiency: more 3-pointers, more layups and fewer mid-range shots. Ellinwood had adopted a similar mindset.

Dutton is currently in the top-five for all classes in scoring. He also averages 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and three steals per game. Behnke has 8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Scheck has 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds. Four juniors: Brack, Mason Moore, Cooper Hosman and Drew Heinz see consistent playing time.

Dutton has shot 61 percent from the field, Scheck 58 percent, and Behnke 51 percent. On 2-point shots, Dutton has shot 71 percent, Scheck 58 and Behnke 53.

Last year, Dutton shot 54 percent from the field. No other non-senior was above 48.

“It’s been math,” Joiner said. “Britton shoots this shot. This is how many points we get per shot. When you guys shoot at the goal, this is how many points per shot we are getting. When you guys shoot an open 3, this is how points per shot we are getting. When you go in there and shoot one at 16 feet, point per shot goes way down – except for Britton, who is very good at it. And so, there is still a time and place for mid-range shots – and a lot of times it’s against a zone.”

The Eagles made 36 percent of treys last year and 32 percent this winter. However, Ellinwood has upped its 3-point attempts from 13.3 to 18.2.

“Eliminated a lot of mid-range shots as well,” Joiner said.

Moore has emerged as a 3-point specialist with 20 of 47 (43 percent) from long range. Moore scored 12 points last year and has 82 this season. Dutton is at 39 percent, while Brack is 13 of 44 (30 percent).

“It’s just part of my role,” Brack said. “I got to step up and shoot when Brit is getting double teamed, and when Koy is getting double teamed, or when Parker is getting double teamed, I am always looking to get open and shoot the ball.”

Plus, Brack has made 69 percent (18 of 26) of his 2-point shots. Last year, Brack made 14 total 3s and shot 27 percent from inside the arc. Brack has worked on his shot with his cousin, longtime Hoisington head boys’ basketball coach Kyle Haxton.

In addition to the Macksville win, Ellinwood has victories against La Crosse (67-34), Cunningham (71-50), 4A Pratt (49-38) and 3A Hoisington (47-37).

La Crosse is 8-5, Cunningham 10-4, Pratt 9-5, and Hoisington 6-8.

“Once I got into high school, I had to learn how to shoot the ball a lot better,” Brack said. “And now I am a junior, I can start driving, feeling more confident while I am driving.”

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