Sports in Kansas looks at every boys’ state qualifier. History notes from Carol Swenson.
1.Lawrence Free State (21-1) – Lawrence Free State has been the top 6A team most of the winter. By MaxPreps all-classes statistical rankings that feature strength of schedule, the Firebirds come out No. 1. Senior Jordan Brown, an Emporia State commit, transferred from nearby Basehor-Linwood before the season started. He leads FS in scoring. Free State has never won a boys’ basketball title. Lawrence High captured four, the last in 1995. Mozae Downing is also having a big year for FS. Cooper Jackson and Dash Cleveland also are standouts for the Firebirds.
8. Manhattan (9-13) – Manhattan pulled back-to-back road upsets and joined Highland Park, Topeka West, Topeka Hayden and Topeka Seaman as Centennial League boys’ teams to reach the state tournament. Jack Wilson, a 6’6″ senior, is averaging over 13 points per game and really has turned it on in the postseason. Tate Brown is also in double figures this season.
4. Blue Valley Northwest (19-3) – Blue Valley Northwest coach Ed Fritz won five state championships, all from ’13-19, had a Forever Four in 2020 and was a state qualifier last winter. Then, Fritz retired. Northwest is ranked fourth by the Kansas coaches. Northwest won state football with junior Grant Stubblefield as the standout running back. He is the point guard for basketball. Avnoor Bhullar, a 6’4″ senior, is also averaging over 14 points per game this season along with 6’4″ senior Joey Robinson who is also in double figures.
5. Shawnee Mission Northwest (18-4) – SMNW has never won a boys’ championship. Northwest is ranked sixth. David Birch led KC Piper to a state title in 2020. Damare Smith averages 18 ppg while Landon Wagler (6’5″) averages 17. Aso keep an eye on standout multiple sport athlete Malik O’Atis, an all-non senior pick in football from Sorts in Kansas.
2. Wichita Heights (20-2) – Wichita Heights won the prestigious midseason Dodge City Tournament of Champions. Coach Joe Auer cleared 700 career wins at Heights through both baseball and basketball. Heights is ranked second. Heights only lost twice to Kapaun Mt. Carmel. Marcus Ziegler has 13.8 points a game, and TJ Williams has 12.9 points per contest. Chase Harris has 12.1 points a game. Dre Kemp has six rebounds a game.
7. Olathe North (11-11) – Olathe North is 0-4 all-time in the state tournament with its last trips coming in ’18 and ’19. Olathe North finished second to Hays High at the midseason Colby tournament. Freshman Jaalan Watson leads the team in scoring with 10 ppg. Gavin Shearer averages just under 10 per game and has great size at 6’8″.
3. Dodge City (19-3) – Dodge City has never won a title but has seven final fours, with its last coming in 2011. DC finished the year ranked third in 6A. Dodge City’s Cooper Scheck has 694 career points, per Dodge City broadcaster Sean Boston and DCHS. He has made 38.6 percent of his career treys, which is fourth all-time in school annals. He is also third in free throw percentage at 79.3. Scheck has 16.7 points a contest. DC has made 103 treys as a team.
6. Olathe West (14-8) – This marks Olathe West’s first all-time state tournament appearance. Harrison Kisling is averaging over 14 points per game and three assists per contest as a junior. Brisyn Robinson is also in double figures this season. The Owls get some length from Jayson Luse who is 6’5″. Nice work by Bradley Ball to get the team to their first ever state tournament.
1.Kapaun Mt. Carmel (21-1) – Kapaun Mt. Carmel coach Steve Eck stands at 999 wins in his career, per longtime Hutchinson Community College sports information director Steve Carpenter. Eck previously served as HCC head coach. He won six state titles at Wichita South and led four junior college teams to a No. 1 national ranking. KMC twice beat Wichita Heights. Six-foot-6 Will Anciaux has multiple Power 5 offers in football, while 6-5 Henry Thengvall has enjoyed a big season. Kapaun has won one boys’ basketball state title, in 2012. KMC is ranked first in 5A.
8. Topeka Seaman (15-7) – Topeka Seaman has won eight in a row, including a dominating road win at one-loss Hays High in the 5A sub-state title game. Seaman had a rare down season two years ago when it won just two games. However, the Vikings had a big jump last season and are the lone squad to defeat Topeka West this winter. Ty Henry is averaging 15 ppg while Mateo Hyman is at 14 and Kaden Bonner at 13. More about Topeka Seaman can be found here:
4. Maize (18-4) – Maize is the defending 5A state champion for veteran coach Chris Grill. Maize senior Kyle Grill has committed to Fort Hays. Coach Grill was SIK’s all-classes coach of the year last winter. Maize is ranked ninth. Avery Johnson was the 5A Player of the Year in football and has many Power 5 offers as a quarterback. Grill has 14.6 points a contest. Jaden Gustafson has 12.4 points a game, while Johnson has 12 points a game. Gustafson has 6.4 rebounds a game.
5. Highland Park (18-4) – Highland Park has captured six all-time titles, including ’04, ’07, ’08 and ’09, under former coach Ken Darting. HP is ranked sixth in 5A. Senior Juan’Tario Roberts cleared 1,000 career points and averages 21 ppg. Junior Tre Richardson is a multi-sport all-state standout. Kaetraelus Aldridge has been a big-time standout for the Scots this season. Jahmir Kingcannon also averages in double figures. Michael Williams was a veteran HP assistant for Darting before he took over the program.
2. Topeka West (21-1) – Topeka West earned a surprise state runner-up to Maize last winter. Elijah Brooks is second in Kansas in scoring. West is ranked second in 5A. Rick Bloomquist was the 5A coach of the year last winter. Brooks has averaged 25.8 points a game, while Xavier Alexander has 10.9 points a game. Sincere Austin has 10.6 points per contest.
7. St. James Academy (15-7) – This is SJA’s second all-time trip after a 2019 showing. SJA is ranked tenth. Sam Somerhalder has 19 points a game, while Brian Hawthorne has 13.4 points per game. Jack Moellers has 13 rebounds per contest. Garrett Lynch has 9.4 rebounds a contest.
3. De Soto (18-4) – This marks De Soto’s third straight year at the state tournament. De Soto is ranked eighth. Sophomore David Cobin has 17 points a game. Trent Johnson also averages in double figures and the team also features football standouts Tyler and Ethan Schultze.
6. Blue Valley Southwest (15-7) – Blue Valley Southwest is at state for the second time after a 2020 berth. Jinwoo Kim, a 6’3″ senior, leads BVSW in scoring at 14 ppg. Southwest plays one of the best schedules in the state. Sebastian Hamm also chips in 13 ppg and the Timberwolves have size with 6’9″ Cooper Schwieger and 6’8″ Carson Schweiger.
1.Eudora (18-3) – This marks Eudora’s fourth trip to the state tournament since 1952, joining ’97, ’14 and ’16. Eudora is ranked first in 4A. Eudora easily led 4A East with 40.2 points allowed. Eudora lost only to Basehor-Linwood, De Soto and KC Piper. Kyle Deterding is led by Logan Sullivan, Jaden Hamm and Traeger Rader. Hamm has great length at 6’7″ and has committed to play football at Arkansas.
8. Topeka Hayden (9-13) – Topeka Hayden is 8-4 all-time in state championship games. Dwayne Paul has enjoyed successful runs with Emporia State as an assistant and with the Lebo boys. Paul is in his first year with Hayden, which was one of five boys’ Centennial League teams to qualify. Division I football recruit Joe Ottings (6’5″ 270) averages 14/7 a game for the Wildcats.
4. Abilene (16-6) – Abilene last made a final in 1992 and has three final fours since then: ’97, ’13 and ’17. Kaleb Becker exceeded 1,000 career points as he averaged 18/7 per game. The Cowbloys also Triston Cottone, Brax Fisher, Stockton Timbrook, Thomas Mclendon, COoper Wildley and Grant Waite. They got to the tournament by beating Augusta and Rock Creek in the sub-state matchups. It’s been since 1992 when Abilene last won a title, then led by star Jordy Canfield.
5. Bishop Miege (16-6) – Bishop Miege has six state titles, all since 2001 under longtime coach Rick Zych. Since ’16, Miege has gone championship, champion, champion, rare state tournament miss, Forever Four and champion. The Stags are ranked second. Miege by far led 4A East in scoring offense with 67.3 points a contest. Christian Bowen-Webb, who went over 1,000 earlier this year, is averaging close to 15 ppg. Kellan Boylan is a double double machine at 6’6″ for the Stags.
2. Buhler (18-4) – Buhler won seven state titles, its last coming in 1967. Buhler has not made a final four since 1998 and is 0-4 at state since then. Buhler is ranked fourth in 4A. Buhler gets the big rematch against rival McPherson in the first round. Buhler has two close wins versus McPherson this year. Before those wins, Buhler had lost 27 straight games to the Bullpups dating back to 2005. Jack Voth is a 6’5″ junior that averages 22 points per game and eight boards.
7. McPherson (13-9) – McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon has six all-time state championships, the last coming in ’14-15. The Bullpups rebounded after five straight losses, the longest losing streak in decades for the tradition-rich Bullpups. Seth Madron averages 17 points per game for Mac along with eight rebounds.
3. Andale (16-6) – Andale has qualified for state in four the last five years. Jeff Buchannan knocked off Mulvane and Rose Hill in the sub-state on their way to a 16-6 mark. The school is one of the best sports communities in the state as they compete in everything they do. This is the 14th time at state for Andale. No star player on the team as several players average around 10 points per game. Wyatt Spexarth leads the team with 11 ppg and is a 6’3″ junior.
6. Paola (15-7) – This marks Paola’s first trip to state since 2016. Ryan Oshel has the Panthers in the tourney with a 15-7 record after beating Chanute and Tongie in the sub-state matchups. Trey Moala has great length at 6’6″ and went over 1,000 points earlier this season. Baseball star Caden Marcum, who has signed with Tennessee, is also with great length at 6’5″.
1.Royal Valley (22-1) – Last season, Royal Valley qualified for state for the first time in school history. Nahcs Wahwassuck, an Emporia State signee, returned to the team in midseason and has averaged mire than 17 points a contest. Brady Klotz, K.J. Miller and Mason Thomas all are at least 6’4″ and can get to the rim. This team shares the basketball very well. They have all the pieces to be a champion.
8. Girard (16-5) – Girard returned to state for the first time since 2019 when it won a state title, and Rod Wescott was SIK all-classes coaches of the year. Brahm Born has 17.6 points a game. Girard also saw an awesome football season on their way to winning an undefeated league title. Girard is playing its best basketball in March.
4. Southeast of Saline (20-3) – SES qualified both girls and boys teams to state. Eli Sawyers has 16.7 points a game. Nakari Morrical-Palmer has 12.7 points a game. Luke Gebhardt has 11 points a contest. Morrical-Palmer has 8.2 rebounds a game and 3.8 assists per game. Sawyers has 5.9 rebounds a game. Gebhardt paces with 2.1 steals per game.
5. Osage City (20-3) – Osage City is at state for the first time since back-to-back trips in ’15-16. OC won state in ’16. Junior Landon Boss is an all-state player in football and basketball and cleared 1,000 career points in basketball. Kadon Kirkpatrick is also having a big year and has 6’3″ size.
2. Hesston (22-1) – Hesston is looking for its second straight state title. Reigning first team all-state selection Cason Richardson returned from injury after Christmas. Hesston split with 2A Hillsboro. Those are the only two losses for those squads. In the sub-state championship, Hesston defeated undefeated Cheney. Cason Richardson, Jake Proctor, Brayden Schilling, Ty Schroeder and Nick Arnold are at least 6-2. Both Richardson and Proctor average 15 points a contest.
7. Hugoton (19-4) – First-year coach Trey O’Neil has done a terrific job with the Eagles. Hugoton graduated more than 70 percent of its scoring from last season. Hugoton opened 1-2 and is 18-2 since, including 3-0 against GWAC rival Holcomb. O’Neil beat Chaparral and coach Sloan Baker in the sub-state title game. Before the game, the last time O’Neil and Baker were on the same court together, they helped SC win a state title. Hugoton has won four in a row. Ryle Riddlesperger has 14.1 points a game, while Carson Bennett has 13.5 points a contest. Senior Gavin Williams, in his first year as a key player, has 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a contest.
3. Galena (22-1) – Galena is Forever Four and state runner-up the last two seasons. The Bulldogs return 3A player of the year Brett Sarwinski, along with 6-foot-6 Tyler Little, who has Division I football offers. Galena lost to Hesston at state last winter. Sarwinski is the team’s all-time leading scorer, while Little is the all-time leading rebounder. Galena also features nice length with Little, Kenyon Martin (6’3″), Kobe McLothlin (6’3″) and Maverick Harmon (6’2″). Matt Meyr has done nice work here.
6. Thomas More Prep-Marian (19-4) – TMP is at state for the fourth time in five seasons. The Monarchs have final four runs in their previous two trips. The Monarchs went undefeated in Mid-Continent League play and won the MCL regular season tournament. TMP beat Norton for the third time this winter in the sub-state title game. Coach Bill Meagher has served on staff since 2011. TMP opened 0-2 with losses to 5A Hays High and 6A Lawrence Free State. TMP has 6-6 junior Dylan Werth and three players who are also standout football players: Kade Harris, Jace Wentling and Bryce Seib. Plus, Gavin Unrein and Kenton Ginther have delivered impressive seasons. TMP lost to Hesston in the final four last winter. Werth missed early season with injury and leads the Monarchs in scoring and rebounding.
1.Valley Falls (23-0) – Valley Falls is the only undefeated team left among Kansas boys’ teams. Guards Avery Gatzemeyer and Dylan Cervantez have been standout players as the two top scorers. VF beat ACCHS to get to the state tournament. Brennen Miller averages nearly seven assists per contest at the PG position. Zac Evans is also also in double figures scoring while Trenton Kraxner averages eight per game. Valley Falls took second at state in both 1993 and 2001.
8. St. Mary’s Colgan (14-8) – Colgan finished as final four in 2019 before a pair of rare down seasons under coach Wayne Cichon. He has five state titles, all from ’96-08. Jalen Van Becelaere has enjoyed a big year for the Panthers. Panthers also feature Colin Hite, Tucker Harrell, Nick Ison, Stu O’Brien and Aidan Fleming. Colgan beat SE-Cherokee 76-48 to punch their ticket to state and 62-35 in the semis over Erie – who had won the last two sub-states. This is a very dangerous eight seed.
4. St. Marys (20-3) – Former K-State standout Will Spradling has done an impressive job with St. Marys. The Bears are the only team to beat Olpe. St. Marys had two all-time trips, ’79 and ’09, before the 2020 Forever Four team. Keller Hurla has averaged 20 points a game. Fred Criqui has great size at 6’7″ as does Noah Jacobson at 6’4″. Jaxon Hurla has also played outstanding at PG.
5. WaKeeney-Trego Community (18-4) – Trego continued to improve under coach Sean Dreiling and has its pair of well-known senior cousins: Cole Feldt and Charlie Russell. Feldt starts at point guard, while Russell has a Pratt CC offer and more than 1,000 career points. Trego is at state for the first time since 2009. Russell has 16.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. Feldt has 4.4 assists a contest.
2. Hillsboro (22-1) – Hillsboro is the defending 2A state champion and has been the significant state favorite all season for longtime coach Darrel Knoll. He has four titles: ’91, ’95, ’98 and ’21. Brekyn Ratzlaff has 17.1 points a contest. Matthew Potucek has 12.2 points a game, and Grayson Ratzlaff has 11.8 points a game. Ratzlaff has 5.3 rebounds a game. Potucek has 4.8 rebounds per game. Ratzlaff has 2.9 assists per game.
7. Wichita Independent (17-5) – Independent is at state for the first time in school history. Joseph Recalde-Phillips leads the team with 15 points per game. Javon Beadles also averages in double figures. Independent upset Sedan in the sub-state championship 51-40.
3. Lyndon (21-2) – Lyndon is state for back-to-back seasons. Lyndon took third last year and brings a 21-2 record into state under HC Michael Massey. Toby Miller is averaging 18 points per game while Darian Massey is averaging nearly five assists per contest.
6. Sterling (18-5) – Sterling defeated Ellinwood in a sub-state championship game for a third straight season. Zach Surface is averaging over 15 ppg. The Bears beat a very solid Ellinwood team in the sub-state final to get to state, 48-42.
1.Olpe (22-1) – Olpe is the defending boys’ state champion and has won back-to-back football titles. Olpe coach Chris Schmidt is the longtime coach in both sports. Last winter marked the first basketball title in program history. Schmidt has won 453 games in 25 seasons, per historian Brett Marshall. Junior Truman Bailey, who hit several key shots in the state championship game last season as a role player, has emerged with 12.2 points a game. Senior Derek Hoelting has put together another big season with 16.4 points a contest. Olpe lost the season opener to 3A state qualifier St. Marys, though has not dropped a game since. Per Marshall, Olpe has already joined Northern Valley (90-91), Sylvan Grove (95-96) and Hanston (04-05) as teams to win state football and state basketball in the same school year. The only one to do it in back-to-back years was Hanover (08-09, 09-10, 16-17).
8. Troy (16-7) – Troy is at state for the first time since 1998. Troy had 15 total wins the previous two seasons. Camden Anderson has enjoyed a solid season for Troy, which pulled off a slight upset, 58-57, against Cair Paravel in the sub-state title game. Troy was a preseason top-5 school in 1A-I. 6’4″ junior Jerrit Norris is a double-double machine averaging 15 and 9 per game this season. Cam Anderson is also in double figures.
4. Osborne (21-2) – Osborne qualified every year from ’16-19 before a two-year hiatus. Jamie Wolters has taken both Osborne boys and girls to the state tournament. Jonathan Hamel leads with 14.5 points a contest. Osborne has taken second twice, in 1976 and 2016.
5. Macksville (21-2) – Before this season, Macksville qualified every year from ’09-11, along with ’14 and ’19. Macksville won state titles in 2006 and ’11. The ’11 team featured current Bucklin coach Derek Bevan as a player. Macksville’s lone losses came against Ellinwood and St. John. Macksville defeated Ness City, also a state qualifier, in the season opener. None of the starting five are seniors for coach Jeff Kuckelman, in his 20th year with the Mustangs. Alexis Barron has 11.9 points a game, and Ryan Kuckelman has delivered 11.7.
2. Norwich (22-1) – Norwich has five all-time state appearances, with the last three coming in ’92, ’93 and ’94. The Eagles have one loss, to Attica. Norwich has four well-known players: cousins Jace Gosch and Chance Hilger, along with Tray Schroeder and Dax Rosenhagen. Gosch delivers 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. Hilger has 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds a contest. Norwich has never made a state title game in school history. The Eagles were 15-4 last winter. Norwich beat Wichita Classical in the sub-state championship game; Classical had defeated Solomon in the regular season. Norwich’s current team has several dads/uncles on the ’92-94 state qualifying teams. Coach Nick Kyle is in his second season. Assistant Wayne Morrow has coached for more than 30 years at various places, including final fours the last two winters with Little River.
7. Solomon (16-7) – Solomon qualified for state for officially the second time in school history, though the other appearance came in 1918, decades before KSHSAA was formed. Spearville graduate Kyler Stein took over the Gorillas. Solomon scored eight points in the final 22 seconds to beat Clifton-Clyde in the sub-state championship game. Makaen Hasting has 19.3 points a game.
3. Montezuma-South Gray (21-2) – This winter, SG coach Mark Applegate and Hill City coach Keith Riley moved past John Locke for the most wins in Kansas history among primarily boys’ basketball coaches. SG was state runner-up to Olpe last winter. Senior Brady Deges has 15.6 points a game, while senior Brent Penner has 17.7 points a contest. Deges has went over 1,000 career points. SG won titles in ’97, ’07, ’08, and ’18 under Applegate.
6. Ness City (18-5) – Ness City won a state title in 2019 and was final four with a South Gray loss last winter. NC has eight seniors on their roster. Taylor Cable has 18 points and 10.7 rebounds a contest, while Corbin Ross has 13.9 points and 11.5 rebounds a game. NC can score in bunches and put up more than 90 in a regular season win against a quality Wheatland-Grinnell squad. Overall, NC averages 67 points a game. Losses came to Macksville, Hill City, WaKeeney-Trego and Ellinwood – all teams that won at least 17 games. NC also went 2-1 against Hodgeman County.
1.Hanover (22-1) – Hanover has seven all-time titles, captured state last season and has been No. 1 team all year. Emmitt Jueneman has a 40-inch vertical and is the reigning 1A Player of the Year. He has averaged 16.1 points per game. Keagan Dimler has 12.2 points and Josh Zarybnicky has 11.6 points a game. Philip Doebele has 8.7 rebounds per game, Braelen Stallbaumer has 7.8 rebounds a game, and Zarybnicky has 7.6 rebounds a contest.
8. Central Plains (4-18) – Central Plains was 1-18 entering sub-state, although none of the losses came against Class 1A, Division II teams. CP had undefeated state title squads in 2018-19. Coach Bryce Steiner is a CP graduate. Peyton Ryan, a 5’11” sophomore, averages over 20 points per game.
4. Bucklin (18-5) – Bucklin has enjoyed a big turnaround in football and basketball. Both basketball teams qualified for state in the same year for the first time in school history. The Red Ace boys last reached state in 1994. Senior Scott Price has averaged around 20 points a game and is on the short list for player of the year. Bucklin has attempted more than 620 treys. Bucklin entered the season unranked and has proven one of the top-four teams in the classification. The Red Aces won the SPIAA midseason tournament title and split with South Gray.
5. Caldwell (16-6) – This is Caldwell’s fifth state trip since 2014. Caldwell won the South Central Border League midseason tournament. Caldwell has just six players on its team. Teagan Thompson is averaging over 12 ppg. Keiondre Smith, a standout football player, is also one of the teams top players. Sophomore Jackson Risley is also a key player for the Bluejays. Nice work by HC Trenton Neal getting a team with the least depth in Kansas in the postseason into the tournament with just six players.
2. Tribune-Greeley County (21-2) – Greeley County is at state for the first time since three straight trips from 2010-12. Jaxson Brandl is one of Kansas’ top scorers at 22 ppg. Titus Sherer and Lincoln Shafer are also having big seasons under HC Josh Gooch.
7. Pawnee Heights (12-10) – Pawnee Heights has two all-time state appearances, in 1972 and 2021. PH finished as final four. Rick Carlson, who has coached a variety of sports with Pawnee Heights, took over as head coach. High-flying junior Alec Carlson is again among the state’s top-10 scorers and has exceeded 1,200 career points. Carlson has 20.8 points per game. Braden Colglazier has 10 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. Davin Hamby has 3.6 assists a contest.
3. Northern Valley (21-2) – Northern Valley won state in ’18 and has qualified for state for back-to-back years. Bailey Sides has 14.4 points a game, Eric Loya has 13.1 points per contest, and Kenton Thalheim has 11.5 points a game. Foster Brands has 6.3 rebounds a game. Bailey Sides has 6.2 rebounds per contest. Sides has 5.8 assists a game. Thalheim has 3.4 assists a game.
6. Waverly (13-10) – Waverly is at state for the second straight season and third time in the last five years. It marks the 15th trip for Waverly in the sstate tournament. Key players to watch for are Damian Foster, Ben Meehan, Lane Barley, Brantley Petersen, Koy Myers and Brady Wallace.