Basketball In Kansas: Major storylines, results, midseason tournament looks throughout the state

Bo Aldridge has enjoyed a big season for undefeated Highland Park.


Sports In Kansas looks at several key results from Friday, two major unfortunate injuries and previews multiple midseason tournaments. SIK’s Bethany Bowman has online interviews from Andale versus Wellington, while Conor Nicholl was at Ellinwood versus Macksville (More coverage on Ellinwood and Macksville in the coming days). All rankings from Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.

1. Zoe Canfield and Kamryn Rietzke out for year with injuries – Hugoton senior Mikyn Hamlin, a Wyoming commit, has returned from her knee injury. However, in the last week, two of the state’s top junior guards both suffered knee injuries. Washburn Rural’s Zoe Canfield, a University of Kansas commit, was hurt last Friday. Canfield and senior teammate Brooklyn DeLeye, a Kentucky volleyball commit, were the linchpins that paced the Junior Blues to a state basketball title last March and state volleyball crown this fall. Canfield had recently delivered a double-double against Topeka Seaman. Washburn Rural lost twice at the season-opening Hays City Shoot-Out and hasn’t fallen since, including a 47-46 win versus rival Topeka High last Tuesday. Rural is 7-2 and has won six in a row.

Rietzke suffered an ACL injury in the seventh game each of the last two seasons. She has helped Thunder Ridge to a 4-4 start. Rietzke averages 15.9 points and 4.4 assists a contest, both team-bests. As well, Rietzke had five rebounds and three steals per game. Washburn Rural is ranked fifth in 6A. Thunder Ridge is ranked eighth in 1A-II.

2.Wellington girls 44, Andale 34 – In a matchup of undefeated ranked 4A teams, Wellington continued the state’s longest regular season winning streak. Wellington is 10-0 and has captured 34 straight regular season victories. Coach Eric Adams leads a highly impressive group that is full of girls who prioritize basketball as their top sport.

Wellington started two freshmen, Val Norwood and Britt Zeka, on the final four team last winter. Plus, Ashlyn Gerten returns after a conference defensive player of the year honor. Freshman Kylan Gregory is almost averaging a double-double.

Norwood and Zeka combine for around 30 points a game. Kami Reichenberger and Maddie Nance are key players, too. Wellington’s press has produced wins against Cheney, Pratt, Clearwater and Andale – and not allowed more than 34 points in any contest. That’s made even more impressive considering the amount of possession that generally occur in a Wellington game.

Per coach Adams, 5-foot-7 freshman Cruz Cornejo delivered key minutes with two points, five rebounds and three deflections versus Andale. Zeka, a highly athletic 5-foot-10 sophomore whose mother was a former McPherson High standout, finished with 14 points, three rebounds and three deflections. Norwood, another elite sophomore, delivered 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Zeka and Norwood combined for 41 points in an 82-17 victory against Collegiate, too. Andale star McKenzie Fairchild, a two-time first team all-state basketball pick, suffered injury early in the contest and couldn’t continue.

Andale is 7-0 when not playing Wellington and averages 52.9 points a game in those contests.

Cheney has 6-foot-2 Campbell Hague, a Division I San Diego State volleyball commit. The Cardinals are 9-0 when not playing Wellington and have averaged 52.3 points a contest in their wins.

Clearwater is 5-2 in non-Wellington games and has scored 51 points in those contests.

Wellington is ranked fourth in 4A, Andale sixth in 4A. Cheney is sixth in 3A.

2. Ellinwood boys 69, Macksville 56 – The two undefeated Central Prairie League squads had an entertaining contest Friday. Ellinwood struggled with turnovers early and trailed after the first quarter before a 22-8 second quarter. The Eagles led by seven entering the fourth quarter.

Senior Brit Dutton, the state’s leading scorer, delivered 28 points on 11 of 16 shooting. A Division II University of Illinois-Springfield signing, Dutton delivered 24 points a game as a sophomore and junior, along with 28 points a contest this year. Junior Alek Brack had averaged five points per contest, though was a highly efficient shooter. Brack delivered 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 7 on 3-point attempts.

Ellinwood shot 69 percent on two-point shots and has done well on interior finishes this year. The Eagles picked up nine points on four of eight shooting with junior Cooper Hosman. Ellinwood has delivered 1.3 points per shot and shooting 66 percent on 2-point shots, including a remarkable 76 percent from Dutton. Ellinwood shot 54 percent on 2-pointers last year. Ellinwood has looked who and where is shooting, which has helped its efficiency.

Ellinwood (9-0) and Ellsworth boys are the top squads at this week’s Hoisington Winter Jam. Ellinwood is ranked third in 2A, Macksville third in 1A-I.

4. Goodland girls 54, Hugoton 46 – Last season, Hugoton forced overtime in the regular season GWAC matchup between the two rivals when Hamlin hit a buzzer-beater. Hugoton eventually won the game. The teams met again in the 3A state finals. Goodland narrowly won when Hamlin’s buzzer-beater just missed. Hamlin missed the first portion of the year with a knee injury suffered in the summer. Hamlin has steadily worked her way back and delivered key minutes for Hugoton, which has bumped to 4A this season. Goodland got out to an early lead, before Hamlin entered the contest and hit a big 3. Hamlin made three 3s, per Goodland broadcaster Ross Volkmer.

Goodland had easily its closest game this year, improved to 9-0 and stretched its winning streak to 22, second only among Kansas girls to Pretty Prairie’s 23 straight. The win helped Goodland stay atop the 3A leaders in winning percentage – and delivered the first regular season win against the Cowgirls since 2011. In 2020, Goodland defeated Hugoton, 29-27, in sub-state. Before then, Goodland had lost 20 in a row to the Eagles.

The last five meetings between these teams: two, 11, four, one and eight point-margin. What a great rivalry and senior classes on both sides. Friday marked the last time the seniors will play basketball against each other.

Currently, five players are headed to Division I/II in college: Hamlin, Hugoton’s Summya Adigun (Northwest Oklahoma State basketball), Hugoton’s Gianna Vos (Florida Southern basketball), Goodland’s Talexa Weeter (Fort Hays basketball), Goodland’s Lindsey Cure (Regis University). Weeter went over 20 points in the Hugoton victory. Cure had a huge defensive game versus Hugoton.

Goodland will play at the Colby Orange and Black tournament this week and will face 5A Hays High (6-3) in a marquee contest Friday afternoon. Last season, Goodland defeated Hays High in double overtime.

Currently, 3A Girls has the following undefeated teams:

Goodland (9-0) – Lakin sub-state, ranked No. 1

Haven (10-0) – Lyons sub-state with Cheney, ranked No. 7

Atchison County (9-0), Nemaha Central (9-0) – both in Marysville sub-state, along with 8-1 Minneapolis; AC is ranked ninth, NC ranked fourth.

Phillipsburg (10-0) – in the Russell sub-state, along with 7-1 Southeast of Saline. Phillipsburg has Taryn Sides (Kansas State basketball) and Heather Schemper (Washburn volleyball). Phillipsburg is ranked third.

Plus, a bevy of one-loss teams includes Santa Fe Trail, Silver Lake, Frontenac and Eureka. Class 3A is always very strong, but this year it’s been even better. Multiple teams could enter the state tournament undefeated, which is highly rare for any class.

5. Smith Center girls 56, Belleville-Republic County 39 – Unlike 3A, Class 2A has significant parity. Berean Academy is likely the No. 1 team thus far, but Smith Center is squarely in the conversation. Many of the same girls have led SC volleyball to second, first and second state finishes the last three falls and third in basketball last year.

Currently, the lone 2A teams with none or zero losses are: Smith Center (8-1), Pittsburg Colgan (8-0), Hillsboro (8-1), Jackson Heights (8-1), Riverside (8-1), Mission Valley (8-1) and Berean Academy (9-0).

Berean Academy, Colgan, Jackson Heights, Smith Center and Hillsboro are the top ranked teams.

Smith Center, Phillipsburg and the rest of the Mid-Continent League will have the MCL tournament this week. Phillipsburg will be the heavy favorite. The Panthers defeated Smith Center, 58-33, at the Russell tournament Dec. 9.

Smith Center won Friday’s game without longtime coach Nick Linn, who missed with health concerns. Per the SC team Twitter account, Republic County, had a poster that read “Prayers for Coach Linn.”

6. Phillipsburg girls 57, Norton 27/Thomas More Prep-Marian boys 65, Ellis 36 – Phillipsburg, ranked No. 3 in 3A, remained undefeated and has won every game by at least 17 points. Sides, Schemper and the current Panther group will look for its first Mid-Continent League tournament title this week. Phillipsburg is second, third and second the last three years at the league tournament.

Last season, the Panthers fell to Thomas More Prep-Marian in the tournament championship. Phillipsburg has one all-time MCL tournament title, in 2014. On Tuesday, TMP (4-4, 4-1 in its last five games) will travel to Smith Center in a big MCL girls tournament contest.

The MCL boys’ side is headlined by No. 1 Hill City, No. 2 Norton and No. 3 TMP. Plus, No. 6 Hoxie and No. 7 Russell are darkhorses. TMP is the defending MCL tournament champions. TMP took its normal early season losses in the Hays City Shoot-Out to much larger schools in 6A’s Lawrence Free State and Manhattan and has cruised since. The Monarchs have won four straight, including a 46-29 quality win against Hoxie. TMP rolled over Ellis on Friday.

Hill City and TMP were supposed to play in December, but the Ringnecks had to postpone because of sickness. HC is 6-1. Trent Long has averaged 20 points a game and shot 59 percent from the field for coach Keith Riley. He has led HC for more than 50 years.

7. Shawnee Mission West girls 42, Gardner-Edgerton 33 – Sunflower Smack, which regularly covers the Sunflower League/KC area girl teams, provided a SL update Monday. Shawnee Mission South and Lawrence are both 5-0. Olathe North is alone in first at 4-1. Four teams have two losses. South is 7-0, while Lawrence is 7-1. All other teams have at least three losses. East’s Abigail Long leads the league with 26 points a game, while S’Mya Nichols has 20 points per contest. South’s Camryn Smith has 19.8 points per game, while Olathe Northwest’s Jillian Huckabey has 17 points per game. Huckabey has committed to Division I Florida International volleyball.

Lawrence’s Daphne Bracker Sturm has 9.1 rebounds a contest, while Smith has 8.4 rebounds per game. Olathe East’s Braylee Rogers easily paces the conference with five assists a contest. West’s Izzy Joyce has 4.6 steals per game.

Long, a junior, has committed to Yale basketball. Nichols, a top-100 national recruit, has signed with Kansas. Per Prep Girls Hoops, Nichols is the top recruit in her class for Kansas. In the 2024 class, Blue Valley’s Jadyn Wooten (Oklahoma State commit), is ranked first, Smith second and Long fourth.

SM South is ranked second, while Lawrence is ranked seventh and Olathe Northwest tenth.

8. Riley County girls 48, Silver Lake 47 (3OT) – On Dec. 9, Silver Lake defeated Riley County, 45-38. On Friday, RC pulled the upset with a 48-47 3-OT victory against Silver Lake, the Eagles’ first loss this year. SL is highly experienced after back-to-back state berths, including a final four last season. SL had won four in a row against RC, all by at least seven points. It marked SL’s first regular season loss since a 60-55 defeat to Rock Creek on Jan. 22, 2022. Silver Lake is ranked second, Riley County is unranked.

9. Undefeated teams with Northern Plains girls, Orange and Black girls and boys – In addition to Colby Orange and Black and MCL girls, here’s a look at multiple other storylines. The Northern Plains League features two undefeated girls’ teams: Osborne (8-0) and Wilson (8-0).

Osborne has Trinity Lutters, who has 23 points a game and shooting 57 percent. Lutters has exceeded 1,500 career points and has committed to Sterling basketball. She was also offered by Kansas Wesleyan. Gracie Riner has 4.6 assists a contest.

Wilson, as SIK noted last week, is undefeated in the last year of its school’s existence and has enjoyed a huge turnaround. Osborne and Wilson will have key games, notably the Dragons. Wilson will be the favorite Monday against Pike Valley and will have a strong test Tuesday against the winner of Sylvan-Lucas/Beloit St. John’s-Tipton. On the boys’ side, Osborne is 7-1 and has won six in a row.

Osborne is ranked second in 1A-I girls, Wilson fifth in 1A-II, while Osborne boys are ranked eighth.

In addition to the expected Goodland/Hays High girls’ matchup, Colby boys remain undefeated and will be the favorite at the 38th annual Orange and Black tournament. Colby boys are 10-0, have averaged 60 points a game and has an average margin of victory of nearly 15 points. Coach Parker McKee and star senior guard Hunter Vaughn have orchestrated Colby’s best start since the mid-80s.

10. Southeast of Saline, Hugoton headlines Sterling – The Sterling girls’ tournament has received plenty of attention in recent seasons, especially the last four years. Sterling girls were second, state qualifiers, first and first at state the last four years before it graduated basically everyone. Hugoton girls will also be in the field. SES girls are the No. 1 seed and ranked fifth in 3A. The boys’ side has undefeated Southeast Saline, and second-seeded Hugoton. The Hugoton boys are a significant factor in 4A and stand at 7-2 under second-year coach Trey O’Neil. Hugoton has an overtime road loss to 5A Hays High and and a six-point neutral site defeat to Olathe West, ranked No. 1 in 6A.

SES is ranked No. 1 in 3A, Hugoton is tenth in 4A.

At Hillsboro, Hesston (6-1 at the time of seeding), Remington (6-2) and Holcomb (5-2) are the top teams. Clint Kinnamon, who achieved great success with the Claflin girls and St. John boys, recently won his 500th career game. Hesston is ranked third.

11. Highland Park boys remain undefeated – Highland Park has put up huge offensive numbers in its 6-0 start. The Scots are ranked No. 1 in 5A. In its six wins, Highland Park has scored 82, 85, 95, 66, 107 and 91 points. Bonner Springs is 5-1 when not playing Highland Park. On Friday, Bo Aldridge delivered 27 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.

12. Maize South’s Avery Lowe rare double – Maize South senior post Avery Lowe became the Mavericks’ all-time leader in career basketball blocks. She is also the all-time leader in Mavs’ blocks in volleyball. The 6-foot-3 Lowe is headed to Nebraska-Kearney basketball. Maize South is 5-3 and has won two in a row after a 47-34 win against Valley Center.

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