Basketball in Kansas: Notes on every girls’ state basketball qualifier

Bucklin is one of multiple teams with a sizable wins jump from last season. The Red Aces are a strong 1A-II contender (Photo by Tessa Lickiss).


Sports In Kansas has breakdowns and notes on every girls’ team. Notes from many sources, including coaches, players, statistics, Kansas historian Carol Swenson, and SIK own observations. Player rankings from Robert Kelly, Prep Girls Hoops. All per-possession data from SIK unless otherwise noted. Check out SIK’s staff picks to win, runner-up and darkhorse, as well as coverage on all platforms during the week. SIK staff will be at multiple sites.



At Wichita State University

1.Shawnee Mission South (22-0) – Shawnee Mission South enjoyed a nine-win improvement from last winter and has a strong case for Kansas’ best team for all classes. SMS averaged 44 points a game last winter and is up to 52 points a game this year. Camryn Smith is possibly the state’s best junior. Zai Funchess transferred from Lone Jack (Mo.) and has made a tremendous impact. South has delivered a sparkling resume that includes wins against Washburn Rural (53-48) and Shawnee Mission West (54-44) in the sub-state title game. SMS was not in the preseason top-10 and entered the postseason ranked No. 1 in the classification. Per Sunflower Smack, which regularly covers the league, Smith entered the postseason with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals a contest. Funches has 12 points and six rebounds a game. Joycelyn Moore had 3.4 assists a contest.

8.Blue Valley (15-7) – On paper, Blue Valley is better than most No. 8 seeds and was ranked fourth by the Kansas coaches. BV has Jadyn Wooten, the reigning 6A player of the year and Oklahoma State commit. From Prep Girls Hoops, Wooten is the Class of 2024 top recruit. Blue Valley took third last season after a buzzer-beating win against Topeka High in the state quarterfinals and a three overtim victory versus Olathe North in the third-place game. Wooten has 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, per KC High School Hoops.

4.Lawrence (18-4) – Daphne Bracker Sturm has 7.5 rebounds a game. Brynnae Johnson has 11 points a contest, and Lucy Hardy has 2.5 steals per contest. Lawrence took second in the Sunflower League behind Shawnee Mission South with an 11-2 league mark. Lawrence has qualified for state for the first time in six years and second occasion in 15. Lawrence has won six straight and has doubled its win total after a 9-12 season last winter. Lawrence had 16 combined wins in the previous three seasons. Lawrence was a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December.

5.Washburn Rural (16-5) – Washburn Rural is the defending 6A basketball and volleyball state champions. Senior post Brooklyn Deleye has signed with Kentucky volleyball and set Kansas’ all-time kills record for 5/6A players. Rural opened 1-2 and lost point guard Zoe Canfield, a Kansas commit, to a season-ending injury. Rural finished 15-3 and defeated rival Topeka High in the sub-state title game. Rural led Topeka High, 32-12, after three quarters. Canfield is the state’s fifth-best junior recruit, per Robert Kelly of Prep Girls Hoops. Deleye has 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks a contest. Seniors Chloe Carlgren and MaRyah Lutz have been key players, too.

2.Derby (20-2) – Derby is ranked second by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association and has reached state eight straight years. The Panthers went 23-2 and took state runner-up to Washburn Rural last season. Senior Addy Brown is a top-100 national player and has signed with Iowa State. Brown has led Derby in points, rebounds, steals, assists, blocks and field goal percentage – an incredible rarity. Brown has 20.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.2 blocks and shooting 57 percent from the field.

7.Olathe Northwest (15-7) – Northwest was in a five-way tie for third in the Sunflower League with an 8-5 mark, per Sunflower Smack. Junior Sky Pierce set the school’s single season blocks record and averages more than three per game. She has committed to Nebraska and is the nation’s top junior volleyball recruit. Pierce has averaged six rebounds a game. Jillian Huckabey, a Florida International volleyball commit, averaged 14 points a game in the regular season. This is Northwest’s sixth all-time state appearance.

3.Blue Valley North (18-4) – While SMS and Derby have been considered the favorites, BVN should definitely be considered a strong state contender. Sophomore 6-foot-2 guard Aubrey Shaw has multiple high-level Division I offers, including a Jan. 25 offer from Nebraska. Sophomore Jaliya Davis has also had a big year. Shaw has averaged 13-plus points and eight-plus rebounds a game this year. Logan Parks is also a high-level Division I volleyball recruit. Davis has averaged 19.4 points per game, per KC High School Hoops. Davis and Shaw are the state’s No. 2 and No. 3 recruits in the Class of 2025 per Prep Girls Hoops. In late January, North rolled over Bishop Miege, 68-39, with 19 points from Shaw and 13 by Davis. Ann Fritz has won more than 600 games. She and Eureka’s Shelly Hoyt are the state’s most successful female girls’ basketball coaches. Fritz has coached at BVN nearly 30 years. North won titles in ’98, ’00 and ’05 under Fritz.

6.Wichita Southeast (16-6) – Southeast reached the state tournament for the first time in 35 years. Southeast defeated Dodge City and Liberal, both Western Athletic Conference teams, in sub-state. Liberal finished 18-4 and known for its offense. Southeast has built its turnaround on defense. Ma’Khiya Jones paces Southeast with 10 points and eight rebounds a contest. Zionne Williams is the team’s lone senior. Leela Jones, Alana Webb, Trinity Dixon, Quinancy Galbert and Adrian Neal are key players. Southeast lost to St. James in the prestigious McPherson midseason tournament.


At Emporia State University

1.Topeka Seaman (21-1) – Topeka Seaman is ranked first by the Kansas coaches. Seaman qualified for state in four of the last five years, including the past three. Seaman’s lone state crown came in 1991. Maddie Gragg, Anna Becker, Taylin Stallbuamer and Brooklyn Gormley among the key players.

8.St. James Academy (17-5) – Riley Bruggeman has delivered a big year with 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game. Reese Messer has 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists a contest. Regan Becker, Lauren Steinlage and Riley Kerwin all average between six and 9.1 points a game. SJA lost three straight to St. Thomas Aquinas, McPherson and Bishop Miege in early season. Since then, the Thunder is 15-2, including a win against McPherson in the McPherson tournament championship. Messer is a Division I recruit in volleyball and basketball. She is the No. 1-ranked basketball recruit in Kansas Class of 2025, per Prep Girls Hoops. St. James has a plus-six win improvement and was a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December.

4.St. Thomas Aquinas (19-3) – Lone seniors Catherine Goodwin and Sydney Watts have been high-level talents for the Saints, which rolled 59-29 against Shawnee Heights in the sub-state title game. Aquinas is ranked third by the Kansas coaches, though is again the clear favorite to win under coach Rick Hetzel. Aquinas is one of Kansas’ all-time great programs with 10 state titles. The Saints won in ’21-22 and were Forever Four in 2020. Aquinas also won ’16-19. The last non-Aquinas 5A title came in 2015. Alex Crouse is an exceptional freshman, too. Five-foot-11 junior Kelsey Schenk was a standout setter for the state volleyball crown in the fall and is key in basketball, too.

5.Topeka Highland Park (19-3) – Highland Park has went through a complete transformation and finished with 14 straight victories under coach Rob Brown. Sophomore post Amelia Ramsey and Britt Gowan have been the key players. Ramsey has 20.4 points and a state-best 16.6 rebounds per game. She is shooting 58 percent from the field. De’Asia Sanders has 12.4 points a contest. HP won zero and four games the last two seasons. Angelique Gowan-Britt has 9.4 points per game. Highland Park is at state for the first time since 1995.

2.Bishop Carroll (20-2) – Bishop Carroll is ranked fourth by the Kansas coaches. Landon Forbes is the lone senior. This marks BC’s 23rd all-time state appearance. The Golden Eagles have one state title, in 2004. The Golden Eagles have averaged 55 points per game. In the sub-state title game, BC ran away from Hays High with a 67-32 victory. It marked the most points the Indians, known for defense, had permitted this year.

7.Andover Central (17-5) – Andover Central opened 1-3 behind longtime coach Stana Jefferson. Since then, AC is 16-2. AC finished second and third the last two seasons in 5A. The Jaguars defeated Hutchinson, 39-27, in the sub-state championship game. This marks the fourth straight state berth. Maddi Amekporfor has committed to Washburn basketball and has more than 900 career points. She is top-15 in the state with 4.5 assists per game. Junior Hayden Snodgrass and senior Jaylee Jefferson are among key players. AC replaced two standouts with Brittany Harshaw and Ellie Stearns, who signed with Creighton and Fort Hays, respectively. AC has averaged .99 points per possession and allowed .70. The Jaguars have played at a slower pace compared to certainly the last two seasons and had just 49 possessions a game. However, the Jaguars have a great turnover rate and turned the ball over on just 18 percent of possessions. AC has collected 30 percent of available offensive rebounds. Snodgrass has 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

3. Andover (20-2) – Andover, ranked second by the Kansas coaches entering the postseason, has its two Division I prospects with Brooke Walker and Alana Shetlar. Walker is ranked third among Kansas Class of 2024 prospects, per well-respected scout Robert Kelly. She recently cleared 1,000 career points. Andover is at state for the first time since three straight berths from ’11-13. Walker averages 17 points and three steals per game. AC beat defending state runner-up Salina Central, 54-47, in the sub-state title game. Shetlar is at nine points, 5.9 rebounds and two blocks a contest. Amelya Vance has four assists a game. Andover has a plus-seven win improvement after a 13-9 mark last winter. Andover is a solid shooting team with 40 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3-point range and 63 percent from the foul line. The Trojans average .95 points per possession, allow .65 points per possession and have 54 possessions a contest.

6.Emporia (18-3) – Emporia held off Maize South in the sub-state championship game. EHS is ranked fifth in 5A. The Spartans have qualified for state in back-to-back years. Emporia has not lost since a 45-39 defeat to Washburn Rural on Feb. 3.


At Tony’s Pizza Events Center

Wellington sophomore Britt Zeka set a school record with seven 3s in the sub-state title game. Wellington is the No. 1 seed in 4A for the second straight year. (Photo submitted by Wellington coach Eric Adams).

1.Wellington (21-1) – Wellington had the longest current regular season winning streak in Kansas, both boys and girls, for the majority of the year. Wellington took fourth last season and lost to Bishop Miege in the semifinals. The Crusaders split with league foe Andale and has dismantled most of its opponents. Wellington beat Chapman, 66-33, in the sub-state title game. The Crusaders are a great team under alumnus Eric Adams. Wellington generally uses a pressing style behind a bevy of basketball-first athletes. Britt Zeka delivered 27 points and set a school mark with seven treys in the Chapman victory. Wellington has allowed 28.2 points a contest and has been Kansas’ best statistical defense most of the year. Seniors Kami Reichenberger and Ashlyn Gerten are exceptional defensive players, while 5-11 freshman Kylan Gregory and sophomore Valerie Norwood are starters, too. Wellington is ranked third in 4A. The Crusaders are the No. 1 seed in 4A for the second straight season.

8.Bishop Miege (13-9) – Miege has captured back-to-back 4A state titles and defeated No. 1 Wamego on the road in the sub-state title game. Miege plays a regional schedule and has by far 4A’s hardest strength of schedule. Kirston Verhulst is possibly Kansas’ best sophomore. She has made around half her 3-pointers this year. Faith and Grace McCallop and Mary Grant have been top players, too. Former assistant Kevin Mulvany took over as head coach. Terry English went 910-168 at Miege in 45 years, retired after 2021 and became the assistant for his son, Jeff. After last year, Jeff resigned. Terry took over, and then suddenly passed away. Verhulst has 17.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a contest. She has made 56 of 124 treys (45.2 percent). She is the state’s No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2025, per Prep Girls Hoops. Miege was ranked sixth entering the postseason, but will be the state favorite.

4.Independence (18-4) – Independence had to defeat Southeast Kansas League foe Labette County four times, including the sub-state title. Indy was ranked fifth in the last Kansas coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs are at state for the first time since 2011 and second since ’02. Independence has a seven-win improvement.

5. Hugoton (17-5) – Hugoton is at state for the third straight year and eighth time in the last 10. Hugoton has its well-known senior trio of Mikyn Hamlin, Summya Adigun and Gianna Vos, all whom has signed either Division I/II. All are four-year starters for coaches Emmanuel Adigun, Jeff Ramsey and Ray Kennedy. Hugoton opened 4-5 as Hamlin, a Wyoming signing, came back from a knee injury. Hugoton has won 13 straight, including a 58-31 win against Circle in the sub-state title game. The Eagles were third and second in 3A the last two seasons, both on games decided at the buzzer. Hugoton is ranked fourth. Hugoton has permitted 36 points per game, though the last seven opponents have all scored 35 or fewer.

Adigun has 14.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals per contest. Adigun has been the team’s Swiss Army Knife-type player. She plays point guard, power forward, post and has 14 double-double points/rebounds. Vos has 13.9 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists a game. She has 1,150 career points. Hamlin has 11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. She has 1,470 career points. In sub-state, Hamlin delivered 23 points and 13 rebounds against Winfield in less than three quarters. Hamlin returned to the starting lineup until the semifinal of the Sterling tournament against Southeast of Saline.

Julienne Salazar has 3.8 points, two assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals a contest. Abi Slocum tore her ACL in a Jan. 6 game. Freshman Emily Tinoco and sophomore Ella Beesley have been quality reserves. In the last nine games, Hugoton has allowed 23.8 points a game. Adigun is the school’s single season rebounding record holder with 254 last season. Hugoton’s Class of 2017 went 90-8. The Class of 2018 finished 88-12. This year’s senior class is currently 78-16.

2. McPherson (20-2) – McPherson is at state for a staggering 36th time. The Bullpups have qualified every year since 2015 and all but one season since ’09 under longtime coach Chris Strathman. McPherson is ranked second in 4A, defeated 20-win Andover and split with St. James Academy, both 5A state qualifiers. The Bullpups are one of Kansas’ top-3 all-time programs. McPherson is 138-2 in league play since 2010 and won 16 straight league titles. Since 1995, McPherson is 310-20 in conference play.

Jordan Sears averages 16 points per game and has signed to play at Newman. Chloe Clevenger has inked to Johnson County CC basketball and is an elite athlete and defensive player. In a 74-40 win against Rock Creek in the sub-state title game, Sears finished with 28 points and six rebounds. Karter Alvord delivered 10. Jayla McLeod finished with 15. McPherson held RC to 31 percent shooting. McPherson has nine state titles, the last coming in 2018. They were COVID Forever Four in ’20, state runner-up in ’21 and lost to Wellington in the quarterfinals last season.

7.Topeka Hayden (15-7) – Hayden is ranked ninth in 4A. Junior Avery Grunert banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 42-40 overtime win against Fort Scott in the sub-state championship game.

3.Andale (19-3) – Andale lost to Bishop Miege in the state quarterfinals last season. The Indians feature McKenzie Fairchild and Maddie Schrandt, who have signed Texas A&M track and Missouri State beach volleyball, respectively. Andale is the only team to beat Wellington in the regular season in the last two years. Andale is second, second, first and second in volleyball the last four years. The Indians have won the last five contested girls’ track titles.

6.Parsons (16-6) – Parsons is at state for the first time since 1993. Parsons defeated Louisburg, 41-39, in the sub-state title game. Pat Schibi leads the Vikings. Juniors Iniya Hinman and Sydney Schibi are among the key players. Hinman had a huge sub-state championship game performance in a 41-39 win against Louisburg.


At Hutchinson Community College

Overall Note: Phillipsburg/Goodland and Hanover/Lebo (1A-II) could both meet in the state championship as undefeated teams. The last time girls’ basketball had two championship games with perfect teams was 2015: (Bishop Miege/Paola, Hesston/Cimarron). That is the only occurrence since at least 2011, per SIK research and KSHSAA archives.

Phillipsburg’s Heather Schemper has returned from injury that cost her last year and helped the Panthers to a 23-0 season. (Photo by Jacque Bretton).

1.Phillipsburg (23-0) – Maybe the state’s most anticipated matchup – undefeated  Phillipsburg and undefeated Goodland – could occur in Saturday’s state championship game. However, both most navigate an historically strong 3A classification that combined for 20 total losses among the eight qualifiers. Notably, Silver Lake returned everyone from its third-place team and has one loss, in triple overtime. Phillipsburg has its well-publicized duo of Taryn Sides and Heather Schemper. Sides is a top-29 scorer in Kansas history and cleared 2,000 career points. Sides has signed with Kansas State, Schemper with Washburn volleyball. Schemper missed all last season with injury, a year that concluded in a seven-point road loss to Goodland in the sub-state finale. Phillipsburg has dominated en route to the most wins in school history.

Sides, the best player in school annals and the reigning 3A player of the year, has led the Panthers to the only three state berths in school annals. Phillipsburg has never won a state tournament game. Sides led Kansas in scoring last season and is the state’s top scorer (26 points per game) among state qualifiers. Sides has eight rebounds, five assists and five steals a contest.

Senior Trinitti Gross, Kayla Jacobs and Brynn Billings are part of a deep group for veteran coaches Rachel Miller and Robin Sides. Phillipsburg won the Russell tournament, the Mid-Continent League regular season and tournament championships. Phillipsburg is ranked eighth for all classes by MaxPreps statistical rankings.

8. Riley County (16-7) – Riley County defeated a pair of 20-win teams in Atchison County and Nemaha Central in sub-state. Head coach Kelsey Nelson played at Kansas State. Her brother, Jordy, is an assistant coach. Jordy Nelson had his well-publicized RC, Kansas State and NFL career. Riley County made state for the first time in six years. RC opened 8-7 and has won eight in a row.

4.Cheney (21-2) – Coach Sarah McCormick, who cleared 200 career wins, brought the Cardinals back to state after a rare miss last season. Cheney was undefeated 3A champion two seasons ago. Cheney replaced Brynn McCormick, a KBCA all-star. Of the 23 teams that had a KBCA all-star last summer, Cheney and Wellington had the most wins this season. Cheney’s 6-foot-2 Campbell Hague has committed to Division I San Diego State volleyball. Cheney defeated Hesston, 52-36, in the sub-state title game. Hague has 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks a contest. Leah Durr has 12 points and seven rebounds a contest. Cheney is at state for the fourth time in five years. McCormick was the assistant to Rod Scheer on the state title team before she took over as head coach. She also led Scott City to the first state berths in school annals, along with previous successes. Cheney has won 10 straight.

5.Eureka (21-2) – Coach Shelly Hoyt has led three teams to the Kansas state tournament: Utica, Hoxie (then-state record 107 straight wins) and Eureka. Ashley Singhateh has 20 points and four assists a contest. This is the third matchup between Cheney and Eureka since 2020. Cheney won 46-33 in the 2020 sub-state and 55-51 in the ’21 sub-state. Eureka lost to Berean Academy by three and Hesston by one. Eureka defeated host Hillsboro by four to win the Hillsboro midseason tournament. Plus, Eureka beat Olpe, 77-55, on Feb. 20.

2. Goodland (23-0) – Goodland has the state’s longest current winning streak for all classes and genders with 36 straight victories. Bill Biermann is the reigning SIK all-classes coach of the year. Goodland’s highly successful and well-known senior class has more than 200 career wins in volleyball and basketball. The Cowgirls are ranked third for all classes by MaxPreps’ statewide statistical rankings. Talexa Weeter has signed with Fort Hays basketball, Lindsey Cure has signed with Division II Regis volleyball.

Weeter has averaged 22 points per game. Weeter and Cure have three steals a contest. Olivia Lehman, Jaxi Mitchek and Haley Biermann are among other key players. This is a once-in-a-generation group that has wins against 6A Garden City, 5A Hays High, 4A state qualifier Hugoton, and two wins versus 3A Cimarron, a 19-win team. Goodland’s 1-3-1 defense has permitted 30 points a game. Goodland has a likely state semifinal matchup with Silver Lake. Goodland beat Silver Lake, 59-53, in the state semifinals last season.

7.Frontenac (17-6) – Frontenac qualified for state for a fourth consecutive year. Hattie Pyle has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a contest. The Raiders have won four straight and cruised in its sub-state with a 55-41 win versus Girard and 67-48 against Cherryvale. Frontenac defeated Blue Valley Southwest, 55-45, and had a 61-56 win against Providence Academy, an Arkansas school that is 25-5. Plus, Frontenac beat Bonner Springs, 58-57. Bonner went 17-5 in 5A and has the state’s leading scorer.

3. Silver Lake (22-1) – Silver Lake and Santa Fe Trail is a rematch from a 55-36 Silver Lake win on Jan. 24. In that contest, SL started the second quarter on a 9-0 run and outscored SFT 17-2 in the second quarter. SL was plus-15 on the glass  and averaged .96 points per possession. Coach Kyle Porter returned his entire team from a state third-place squad. Porter, who won a state title at Royal Valley five years ago, has led SL to state in each of his three years. SL is ranked sixth in all classes by MaxPreps’ statistical rankings. Junior post Kenzie McDaniel has a Division I Abilene Christian offer. SL has multiple 3A/4A quality wins, including against Independence.

Porter brought back his entire team. Multiple Eagles were key contributors on his first squad, either as a freshman or sophomore. The current group features seniors Taylor Ross, Mariah Farmer, Juliya Steele, along with juniors Sarah Wehrli, Kaylee Deiter, Makenzie McDaniel, Kaibryn Kruger, and McKinley Kruger. Plus, freshman Kailyn Hanni is a key player. Farmer is a superb defensive player. McKinley Kruger has earned multiple accolades.

6.Santa Fe Trail (21-2) – SFT has qualified for state in back-to-back years for the first time since 1998-99. Kaelee Washington has committed to Kansas softball. She averages 13.5 points and eight rebounds a contest with 50 percent shooting from the field. Braegan Buessing has 11.5 points and 4.7 assists per game. Sydnee Whitaker has delivered 3.4 steals and Buessing three steals a contest. Santa Fe Trail lost to Hugoton in the state quarterfinals last season. Coach Jacee Kramer was an outstanding player at Jefferson County North and a key contributor at Emporia State.


At Kansas State University

1.Pittsburg-Colgan (22-0) – Colgan coach Abby Farabi clinched career win No. 200 at sub-state. Colgan has won a state tournament game just once in program history, a state runner-up showing two years ago. The Panthers were undefeated entering state last season and lost in the first round. SMC has the classification’s top 1-2 combination with Lauren Torrance and Lily Brown, both at least six feet. Brown is top-five in Kansas in scoring at 23 points per game and top-10 with 11.5 rebounds a contest. She has three steals a game. Torrance is at 18 points a contest. JaKayla Davis has put together a nice season, while Polona Kalan and Delanie Meek are known for defense.

8.St. Marys (12-11) – Hayden Heim has delivered a big season with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a contest. She paces the Bears with 53 percent shooting. Brenna Smith has shot 41 percent from the field. Isabel Hurla has 9.1 points.

4.Riverside (20-3) – This is the best season in school annals for Riverside, and the first state berth in program annals. Six-foot-2 junior post Taylor Weishaar has averaged 16 points a game and been a key player all three years. Riverside has won six straight contests. Riverside has enjoyed a massive turnaround after a 10-12 season last winter.

5.Wichita Independent (19-4) – This marks the second state berth in program annals. The other one came in 2017. Sophomore SaMiyah Ellis has 22 points and five assists a game. Independent has enjoyed a plus-15 win improvement after a 4-16 season last winter. Six-foot power forward Stephie Salumu is new to the school.

2.Berean Academy (22-1) – Berean Academy has won 11 in a row and has been a 2A favorite all season. The Warriors opened with a 46-29 win against Central Plains and defeated Eureka, 45-42, on Dec. 10. Plus, BA beat Garden Plain, 34-30, on Dec. 15. The only loss came against non-KSHSAA Sunrise Christian Academy. Tayton Smith and Lillie Veer are experienced players for a veteran-laden squad.

7.Hoxie (18-5) – Hoxie was a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December. The Indians have a plus-five win improvement after a 13-10 record last winter. Alumnus Easton Slipke has done a great job with a veteran group. Hoxie went 2-1 against Smith Center, including a sub-state championship game victory. The Indians have accomplished their two big goals: win at least 18 games and return to state for the first time in seven years. Hoxie is extremely offensively efficient with Josey Kennedy, Kinley Rogers, Tori and Emily Bainter leading the way. Kennedy averages 18 points per game and is a serious 2A player of the year candidate. Rogers is at 9.8 points per game, and Bainter with 8.1. Ella Zerr has shot 52 percent from the field, while Kennedy is at 49 percent. Rogers has 7.6 rebounds per game, while Kennedy has four assists a contest.

3.Hillsboro (20-3) – Hillsboro is at state for the 19th time and first since 2014. Zaylee Werth has put together a huge season with eight rebounds, six assists (most among state qualifying players), five steals (third-best among state qualifying players) and 2.2 blocks a contest. Hillsboro won state volleyball. Hillsboro has won 11 straight games.

6.Leoti-Wichita County (19-4) – This marks the Indians’ fourth all-time state berth and first since 2001. WC has won four straight. The Indians have the three Rickes: freshman Breanne, sophomore Ashlynn and junior Megan.


At Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena

Overall Note: None of the top-four teams from the 2022 state tournament, Pretty Prairie, Centralia, Burlingame or Hodgeman County, are back. Plus, Little River, a top-five team in 1A-I last season, didn’t qualify. Central Plains is the defending 1A-II champion and has won a state title in every available year since 2014.

1.Norwich (21-2) – Norwich is at state for a third time in four years under longtime coach Mike Klaver. Norwich has reached state seven times in the last 11 years with its best showing a runner-up to Olpe in 2021. Norwich has won nine straight.

8. Canton-Galva (15-8) – This is the fourth all-time trip to state and first since three straight from ’84-86. Trinity Espinoza has 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Brecken Pearson has 5.5 rebounds and a team-best 2.4 assists per contest.

4.Central Plains (19-4) – Central Plains has its state record for consecutive championships still intact. CP has won state every year from ’14-22, except for an undefeated COVID Forever Four in 2020. The Oilers have won crowns in 2A, 1A, 1A-I and 1A-II and moved back to 1A-I this season. Senior guard Brynna Hammeke is the reigning 1A-II co-player of the year.

Longtime head coach Pat Stiles navigated the state’s hardest sub-state that included No. 1 ranked Little River, No. 2 ranked Pretty Prairie and longtime rival St. John. In the semifinals, Central Plains held off PP; the Bulldogs were the defending 1A-I state champions. Central Plains had lost to Little River in the regular season. In the finale, CP beat St. John for a fourth time this winter and 29th in a row in the series. Hammeke has 19 points, 4.3 steals and three assists a contest. Marilyn Soeken has 12 points per game. Addyson Ogle, Melissa Donecker and Kyla Metro have logged significant minutes. JD Johnson replaced Jim Ryan as the assistant coach this season.

5.Doniphan West (18-5) – This marks Doniphan West’s second all-time state showing after a third-place finish in 2021. Kyra Johnson has eight rebounds a contest. She and Weathersbee both have three steals a game. Claire Cole, Edie and Melania Whetstine are all key players for DW. The Mustangs defeated Centralia, 44-39, in the sub-state title game.

2.Quinter (20-3) – Quinter has its well-publicized huge turnaround after an eight-win season last winter. The Bulldogs were a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December. This marks Quinter’s third state appearance under Matt Havlas and Scott Crist. Havlas cleared 100 career wins this winter. Quinter won state in 2018. Senior 6-2 post Anna Briggs grew up in Quinter, spent her junior year in Nebraska with a family move, and then came back. She is a serious player of the year candidate with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks a game. She’s also made 21 treys and shot 36 percent from beyond the arc. Briggs is second for all classes in blocked shots, most among players who reached state. Bryn Gillespie has 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. Senior point guard Cashlyn Kvasnicka is the team’s vocal leader with 8.3 points, along with 36 of 104 (35 percent) on treys. Kennedy Werth paces with 3.5 assists. Kelsey Selensky and Saige Betz are known for their defense.

7.Olpe (16-7) – Last season marked the first year in 40-plus seasons without Jesse Nelson coaching. Nelson is the state’s all-time winningest coach. Ron Slaymaker, who notably led Emporia State men for decades, took over the Eagles. After a rare sub-.500 season last winter, the Eagles are back in the state tournament. This is trip No. 31 for Olpe. Three senior starters returned: Jenna Smith, Makenna Broyles and Ava Clark. Olpe doubled its win total from an 8-14 season. Broyle was all-state honorable mention.

3. Frankfort (20-3) – This is the sixth all-time state trip for Frankfort and first since 2018. Frankfort lost back-to-back games on Jan. 16-18 and has not dropped a game since. Frankfort lists two seniors: 5-10 Kennedy Seleska and Taryn Parthemer.

6. South Gray (17-6) – South Gray was a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December after a 12-10 record last season. SG defeated SPIAA foes Spearville and Hodgeman County in sub-state. The Rebels returned 80 percent of its scoring from last season, including three starters: senior Halli Meairs, junior Vi Helm and sophomore Allie Reed.

Sophomore Kylie Stapleton and senior Alleris Granados are the other starters. South Gray is at state for a fifth time, joining ’08, ’09, ’10 and ’19. South Gray has won five in a row. In late January, the Rebels lost 54-45 and 62-47 to Hodgeman County. Then, SG won 52-49 on Feb. 21 against Spearville. A week later, SG defeated Spearville, 54-42, in the sub-state semifinals. A 51-47 overtime win followed against Hodgeman County in the sub-state title game. HC had won three straight SPIAA regular season titles and back-to-back final fours. Helm has 15.1 points per game, while Stapleton has 9.2. Reed has 8.2 points a contest. Helm has 5.9 rebounds, Reed, 5.6 and Stapleton 5.1. South Gray averages 60 possessions a game and .93 points per possession with .67 points allowed a possession.


At Great Bend’s Barton County Community College

1.Lebo (23-0) – This is a loaded team that lost to Hanover in the state quarterfinals last season. Lebo then went 44-1 in volleyball and defeated Hanover for the state title. Many of the same principal players are back from both sides. Lebo went 22-2 last season and returned three all-league players: Brooklyn Jones, Audrey Peek and Saige Hadley. Brooklyn Jones, who has signed to Kansas State for track, has averaged 19 points and five steals per game. has delivered 18 points a contest. Hadley is at 16 points per game. Plus, Katie Ott and Abi Jones return. Jones is the defending 1A javelin champion.

8. Pawnee Heights (10-13) – Pawnee Heights is at state for the first time in school history. PH has just six players on the roster. The Tigers pulled off a 39-31 upset against sub-state No. 1 seed Wilson.

4.South Haven (19-4) – South Haven is at state for the fifth time in school annals and back-to-back years for the first time in program history. SH has won 11 in a row for veteran coach Mike Heater.

5.Bucklin (19-4) – Craig Bowman is definitely high on any coach of the year list with the Red Aces’ improvement. Bucklin was unranked in the preseason and has been No. 3 for several weeks. The Red Aces won the Southern Iroquois midseason title. Bucklin was 11-13 last season and made state as the No. 8 seed. Sydnie Jones, a three-year starter, has 15.5 points and three steals per contest. Freshman Emerson Kirk has stepped in with 11.1 points and 3.8 assists per game. Halie Feikert has 10.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Statistically, Feikert is one of the state’s best rebounders with 9.9 points and 9.2 rebounds in her career. She has 860 points and 803 rebounds in her career.

2.Hanover (23-0) – Hanover is looking for the first perfect season in school history. Hanover won state in 2017 and ’18, was second in ’19, COVID Forever Four in ’20 and finished third last season after a close loss to Central Plains in the semifinals. Veteran coach Chris Beikmann has guided a team that has an average score of 58-30. That includes a 19-point win against Frankfort, along with 10-point and nine-point margins against Doniphan West, both state qualifiers. Anna Jueneman has 13 points per game, while Massey Holle has 10.8 points per game and shooting 51 percent from the field. Ceegan Atkins has 10.4 points a contest. Holle leads with eight rebounds, while Atkins has 3.6 assists and Jueneman 3.4 steals a contest.

7. Wallace County (16-7) – Wallace County pulled an upset when it defeated Golden Plains in the sub-state title game. WC had lost by 20 and eight in the regular season and won by four in the sub-state title game. As well, WC beat Wichita County, a 2A state qualifier, 58-50, on Feb. 17.

3. Beloit St. John’s/Tipton (20-4) – BSJT opened 4-4 and hasn’t lost since. The losses came against Central Plains, 2A Smith Center, 2A Sacred Heart and 1A’s Osborne. BSJT defeated rival Thunder Ridge, 54-35, in the sub-state title game.

6. Hutchinson Central Christian (16-7) – Point guard Kaylee Kauffman is a returning first team all-state player who averages 20 points per game. Kauffman helped the Cougars to a final four finish last March.

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