By CONOR NICHOLL
Bucklin boys: Senior class, 3-pointers and another wild win Tuesday
Seniors Nathan Bowman and Scott Price come from entrenched, large Bucklin families with highly decorated older siblings. They have been friends since around preschool age. Growing up, the two current seniors hung out after school. The two had many intense moments that developed a great friendship and competitive fire.
“We just push each other to be better,” Nathan told SIK. “Sometimes things get heated in practice or even in a game, but we just keep fighting and keep pushing each other, and I really think that’s kind of what made each of us a better player.”
In mid-January, Bucklin won the Southern Plains Iroquois midseason tournament for the first time since 2006. The Red Aces, buoyed by Price, Nathan Bowman, sophomore Andrew Bowman and 6-foot-5 junior Jaron Lindsay, are known for their 3-point shooting and athletic play. In his family, Price is the lone boy with three sisters. The Bowmans are the only boys in their family with six sisters.
On Tuesday, Bucklin was one of many Kansas teams that enjoyed a wild win, including several games that came down a game-winning 3-point shot. Bucklin, ranked fifth in Class 1A, Division II, traveled to Jetmore-Hodgeman County. The Longhorns are sixth in Class 1A, Division I by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Bucklin held off HC, 45-44.
Other big wins Tuesday came from Thomas More Prep-Marian boys, Burlingame girls, Phillipsburg girls, Atwood boys, Norton boys, and a wild boys’ game between St. Marys and Osage City. Plus Colgan girls remained perfect.
Against HC, Bucklin sunk five treys, including four by Nathan Bowman, and built a 32-28 lead with 2:38 left in the third quarter, per Hudl video reviewal and SIK statistics. However, Hodgeman took the lead before Price tallied a layup with nine seconds left for a 44-42 advantage.
Then, HC scored with one second remaining on an offensive rebound from 6-foot-4 senior Brayden Bergkamp. That tied the game at 44. Bergkamp drew a foul for a free throw. As well, a technical foul was called on HC’s bench when an official was bumped.
Bergkamp missed his foul shot. On the technical foul shots, Price made 1 of 2 for the win. On Wednesday, Bucklin coach Derek Bevan confirmed to SIK that he had never seen a finish like that. Bucklin improved to 14-5. The Red Aces have a strong chance for their first state appearance since 1994 and third in the last 104 years, per Kansas historian Carol Swenson.
“They were determined from that point that it was going to stop,” Bevan said of current core. “They were going to be the ones that did the work, put in all the hours to make sure that (losing) tradition didn’t continue – and we start a new one. And they have worked tremendously hard on that. They are very competitive, which made it super easy. Their freshman year has been their only losing year.”
Bowman’s dad, Craig, is the longtime Red Aces’ girls’ basketball coach. Scott’s sister, Janae, is Craig’s assistant. Craig Bowman and Bevan are both Macksville graduates.
Craig has enjoyed several successful seasons, including state appearances in ’13, ’14 and ’18. Last winter, Bucklin had another nice year with a SPIAA midseason tournament crown. Catherine Bowman was a 1A SIK player of the year finalist, first team all-state selection and now at Kansas Wesleyan. Nathan, Andrew and Catherine often engaged in family games.
“It’s very competitive,” Nathan said. “Andrew and I want to always make fun of Catherine, because sometimes she wouldn’t want to play us 1-on-1 in the driveway. But even my younger sister Isabel, she is old enough that now she can play with us. So 2-on-2s get pretty intense and fun. Yeah, it’s really nice to have that family tradition.”
Nathan always remembered watching the Red Ace girls playing multiple years for the league tournament championship. Then, he’d watched the boys’ games that didn’t feature Bucklin. The Red Aces have built under Bevan, who won a state title at Macksville and played at McPherson College. At McPherson, Bevan and his teammates ran a dribble drive-type offense with two players up top and two in the corners. Bevan has made some tweaks.
“I have kind of taken that and morphed it into kind of some modern stuff that you see in the NBA somewhat,” Bevan said. “…We work on shooting a lot. We like to shoot the 3 ball obviously.”
From ’08-09 to ’18-19, Bucklin boys’ basketball won just 30 total games, per MaxPreps archives. That included nine wins in the six years preceding Bevan. Bucklin had a 54-game football losing streak.
“Kind of the dark years,” Bevan said.
The freshmen went 4-16 before big jumps to 13-9 and 12-10 the past two winters. Price has now exceeded 1,000 career points. Bowman, a left-handed shooter, is the starting quarterback and has committed to Barton County Community College baseball.
“We took a lot of thumpings their freshman year,” Bevan said. “Being young, they played a lot of minutes, and we have kind of grinded it out the last three years. This has been the year that we have kind of targeted for this.”
Bucklin shot a remarkable 620 treys last season.
After Tuesday, the Red Aces had made 160 of 560 treys (29 percent) and had shot 52 percent on 2-point attempts. Bucklin has collected 36 percent of offensive rebounds, a strong number.
Bevan focuses on tempo-free statistics, such as points per possession. Bucklin has delivered 0.98 points per possession. Price is at 19.6 points per game, Nathan at 12.5 and Andrew with 10.7. Even on Tuesday, Price had an off-shooting night, but made the key baskets late. He delivered seven assists and five steals.
“Me, Andrew and Scott, pretty much have the green light, almost as soon as we cross half court,” Nathan said with a smile. “So it makes the game a lot of fun.”
In football, Bucklin has enjoyed a nice turnaround under Trever Powell, a SIK Eight-Man, Division II coach of the year finalist. Bucklin is 6-4 and 8-2 the past two falls. This past season marked the Red Aces’ most wins since 1996.
“They have been very instrumental in making my job and coach Powell’s job on the football, easier to get that kind of turnaround,” Bevan said.
Bowman started to see the turn in baseball toward the end of his freshman season. Many of the top Bucklin athletes play football, basketball and baseball. The Red Aces co-op with Coldwater-South Central in baseball.
“We weren’t very good at the beginning,” Nathan said. “But combined with South Central helped a little bit with their experience and being in big games. But then sophomore year, we just kept getting better, football. …It’s kind of been building up. I think sophomore year really turned the corner, because we knew we could kind of play with teams that we usually couldn’t.”
Bucklin had a big year last spring followed by the football run. In basketball, Bucklin started 1-2 with losses to 3A Hoisington and 2A Ellis at the Hoisington tournament.
Then, Bucklin went 5-1 with its lone loss to non-KSHSAA Wichita Homeschool, a current 25-3 team. On Jan. 14, South Gray edged Bucklin, 78-74.
The Red Aces then reeled off four straight victories, including 68-64 versus South Gray in the SPIAA midseason tournament semifinals and 53-47 against HC in the championship. Bucklin shot just 19 percent in the first half versus the Longhorns, though trailed by two. Bevan wasn’t worried, which settled down the Red Aces.
“I have always wanted to be here,” Nathan said after the SPIAA win. “And then finally, coming into the season, I kind of knew we had a good chance of doing it. And then kind of got off to a rough start, and then we picked things up. And then once we beat South Gray, and then Hodgeman, is really good with their length, it was really awesome.”
After the SPIAA final win, Bevan predicted the rematch at Hodgeman would be “interesting.” On Tuesday night, that came true in another memorable victory for the Red Aces.
South Gray and Bucklin currently have one regular season league loss, Hodgeman County two. Per SPIAA rules, South Gray would still win the regular season title. Bucklin boys have never won a regular season SPIAA crown ever.
Bucklin has by far the top seed in the Fowler sub-state. The Red Aces are the only one with a winning record. Price has consistently averaged more than 20 points a game and is probably the leading candidate for Class 1A, Division II Player of the Year. Defending champion Hanover, Bucklin and Northern Valley are the three top contenders.
Bucklin is currently ranked No. 59 for all classes in the MaxPreps statistical rankings that also factor in strength of schedule. Hanover is No. 53, and Northern Valley is at 89. However, the Red Aces, buoyed by the four non-conference losses and the three wins against ranked teams (South Gray, Hodgeman twice), have a much higher strength of schedule.
Ginther hits last-second 3 for TMP
On Feb. 11, Thomas More Prep-Marian boys cruised to a 61-35 home win against Phillipsburg. Senior Kenton Ginther continued his fine season shooting with three 3s, including one at the end of the quarter, a theme for the senior this winter.
“Ginther is one of the best shooters I have been around,” TMP coach Bill Meagher told SIK. “And I think that he will consistently keep hitting at that level. He’s just got a really good knack for catch and shooting.”
Ginther, who has emerged as a key player this winter, has helped the Monarchs continue their quality shooting under Meagher, in his fourth year as head coach after a stint as an assistant. TMP has developed several nice shooters, notably Ryan Stoecklein, Lucas Lang and Jackson Schulte. The shooting has helped TMP to two state final fours under Meagher and a 14-3 mark this winter.
“We put up a lot of shots in practice,” Meagher said after the Phillipsburg win. “…But some of that is those guys all committed themselves to becoming good shooters. And you can’t become a good shooter without putting thousands and thousands of shots up.
“Ginther, you see him hit shots tonight, he hit shots the other night,” he added. “What people don’t see was he was here, I think it was Thursday morning, 6:30 in the morning, putting shots up. So I think that’s what it takes is an individual being committed to becoming a good shooter.”
On Tuesday, Ginther hit the game-winning 3 with three seconds left for a 39-36 home win against Great Bend at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. It marked the second time this winter TMP beat GB, a non-conference 5A school.
On Thursday, TMP travels to Norton (12-5). Both teams are undefeated in MCL regular season action. Norton has two losses to out-of-state schools and fell to TMP and Phillipsburg in the league tournament. TMP won the midseason tournament. A win gives the Monarchs an outright title. A Norton win gives the Bluejays at least a share of the title. Norton faces Hill City (one regular season league loss to TMP) next week.
On Tuesday, Norton won its fourth straight game with a 53-43 win at WaKeeney-Trego, currently ranked No. 8 in 2A.
“I thought we had the potential to be where we are right now,” Meagher after Phillipsburg. “And I still think that we have got good potential. I told the guys to go home this weekend and dream about what you can be if we have championship-level practices and continue to get better. Because I still think we leave a lot on the bone.”
Winters with huge week, continues big season – looks to clear 1,000 career points
Burlingame is ranked fourth in Class 1A, Division I and improved to 16-2 behind a remarkable season and week from four-sport senior standout Daelyn Winters. On Feb. 8, the Bearcats beat Crest, 81-18. On Tuesday, Burlingame beat Mission Valley, 63-62, in overtime.
Winters, who missed part of the year with injury, has 53 treys in 14 games. She has 990 career points. This season, Winters has 16.3 points per game. Remarkably, Winters has 17 total turnovers her entire year. She is on the short list for the 1A, Division I Player of the Year. Winters has 15 treys in the last two games. Overall, she is 53 of 133 (40 percent) from beyond the arc this winter.
Versus Mission Valley, Winters made a trey with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to bump the contest into overtime. Then, she hit a buzzer-beater trey just inside half court in overtime. Winters made eight treys, a new school mark. She finished with 26 points and six steals. Kaylin Noonan had 20 points and seven rebounds.
The eight 3s broke the school record of seven that Winters set against Crest. Winters also broke her school record for single season made treys. The previous mark was 42.
On the boys’ side, Trever Quaney cleared 1,000 career points and is close to 750 career rebounds.
Kierscht, Salina Central move closer to state marks
Salina Central, the No. 1 team in Class 5A girls, remains dominant and undefeated at 17-0 after a 55-44 win against a solid Valley Center team on VC’s Senior Night. Valley Center’s Anna Eldridge has a Newman offer. The Mustangs own five wins against 5A ranked teams: Goddard (twice), Andover Central (twice) and Hays High. Central has not had a game within double figures.
Senior Aubrie Kierscht, the state’s best shooter and Navy commit, has 21.8 points a game. SC is now 162 of 387 (42 percent) from beyond the arc, which is set to easily break state marks.
The record is 40.2 percent set by Frontenac in 2002, per Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Kierscht is a remarkable 86 of 159 (54 percent) beyond the arc this season. SC has its experienced group with senior Hampton Williams (Abilene Christian signing), senior Landry Stewart and electrifying junior point guard Mykayla Cunningham (9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists a game).
Kierscht is now 290 of 663 (44 percent) from beyond the arc in her career. The record is 331 set by Moundridge’s Laurie Koehn from 1997-2000.
Other major performances
Herington girls defeated Solomon, 64-17, and improved to 12-5. Tristyn Kremeier, who has committed to Washburn University basketball, had 27 points, including eight treys. Halle Rutschman finished with 23 points. Kremeier has broken her own school mark for made 3s in a season. Rutschman is at 15.9 points a game. Kremeier has delivered 13.9 points a game in the team’s last statistical release.
Rawlins County senior Jose Paz set a school record with eight treys made in a game against Golden Plains. Paz and junior Brady Beckman have been two of the top scorers for Rawlins County.
Rose Hill’s Adriel Smith, who has defeated back to back huge seasons for the Rockets, cleared 1,000 career points. RH is 12-5. Moundridge’s Kate Eichelberger went over 1,000 career points. Moundridge is 11-6. Kellen Simoneau is putting together a huge year as a junior for the Rockets as well.
St. Marys’ Keller Hurla finished with 51 points, and Osage City’s Landon Boss delivered 44 in a game against each other. Both are juniors. Hurla was 13 of 17 on treys. St. Marys won 84-60. Osage City is 15-3, St. Marys is 14-3. St. Marys is also the only team to defeat Olpe, the 1A-I defending state champion and No. 1 team in 1A-I. Olpe has won 19 straight since the season-opening loss. The two are also outstanding QBs in football.
Phillipsburg junior Taryn Sides, the state’s leading scorer, finished with 40 points in a win against Concordia on Tuesday. Sides, from one of the more known sports families in Kansas, has committed to Kansas State.
Elijah Brooks of Topeka West continues an outstanding season with 27.8 points per game along with 7.9 boards, 3.4 assists, 2.2 steals. Brooks has led T-West to a 16-1 record and has arguably been the most impressive player in the state.
Austin King of Udall recently went over 1,000 points and is having a huge year for Udall with 19.6 points per game. The 6’7″ senior also pulls down 10.6 boards per game.
Britt Dutton of Ellinwood has had a big junior year after an all-state sophomore season for the 16-2 Eagles. The 6’1″ junior is averaging 24.8 points per game, 2.6 steals and 4.8 rebounds. Brittany Simpson, on the girls team, is putting together a great season at 21.7 ppg.
Sedan could be a serious team to keep an eye on in 2A this season at 14-2. The big reason is senior Dameion Hatten (6’3″ 195), who is a multiple sport star, and is averaging over 19 ppg and 9.6 rpg as a senior.
Trinity Lutters of Osborne, who went over 1,000 points in her career earlier this season as a junior, with 21.9 points per game. She also averages over three rebounds and steals per game.
Brekyn Ratzlaff is putting together a complete stat line this season in 2A for the defending champion Hillsboro Trojans. Ratzlaff is averaging 18.2 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 spg.
Kiki Smith continues to be one of Kansas’ top players this winter after earning all-state honors in each of the last two seasons for 6A Topeka High. Smith is averaging 18.2 ppg, 4.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 steals per game in one of the most complete players in the state. Tae Thomas is averaging 15 points per game for T-High and has signed to play Division II in Oklahoma.
Alec Carlson continues to have an impressive career and is only a junior after a semifinal appearance in 1A-II last season. Carlson, who has had some high flying dunks this season, is averaging 19.9 points per game along with 4.4 steals for Pawnee Heights.
Heather Arnett of Frontenac, a rising Division I softball recruit that is ranked nationally, is having another big year for Frontenac. The Raiders are a team nobody seems to be talking about in 3A but they need to be. FHS led by Scott Fields has been to back to back Final Fours in 3A. Arnett is averaging 14.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.6 spg. Arnett could be the top 3A multiple sport athlete in Kansas, being all-state in three sports for several years. Hattie Pyle is also having a big year with 8.5 boards per contest and 2.7 steals. Mia Brown leads the team in assists with 3.8 per game. Brown was also an all-state pitcher last season as a sophomore for traditional 3A softball power Frontenac. The Raiders also feature Syndey Frankenbury, Sarah Wood, Riley Green, and Kynlee Lakey who all average at least 4 ppg.
Brittany Harshaw, an all-state pick last season for Andover Central from Sports in Kansas who has signed with Creighton, is having another big year with 17.4 points per game this season along with 6.4 rebounds.
Charlie Russell of WaKeeney-Trego, recently who went over 1,000, points is having a fine season season for his 13-4 squad. Russell is averaging 16 ppg, 3.3 apg, 8.8 rpg, and 2.5 spg.
Addy Brown, 6’3″ junior of Derby, has been one of the states’ best players this season in 6A with 15.5 points, 4.2 assists and 9.2 rebounds per game. She has multiple Power 5 basketball offers. Her sister, Kennedy, is an Oregon State standout.
Kobe Smith of Andover Central (6’1″ Jr.) is having a breakout junior year with 20.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 1.7 spg in 2020-2021. Jaguars are 15-2.
Madison Denison, highlighted earlier this season by SIK, is putting together a huge junior season for Minneola with 16.6 points per game and 9.9 boards per contest. She also averages 2.5 blocks and 2.4 steals per contest.
Rebound Kings: Dylan Van Laeys is a monster on the boards this season for Logan/Palco pulling down 14.5 per contest. He ranks first in Kansas while Brock Woolf of Triplains Brewster is pulling down 13.7, Kaden Walker of Prairie View (13.5) and Fernando Alen Garcia of Decar Vale Dexter (13.2). Tyson Bluemer of Ingalls and Eric Dillinger of Erie are each over 12 rpg. Blake Aurand of Republic County and Noah Hastart are both at 11.9 and 11.5 respectively.
While Avery Gatzemeyer and Dylan Cervantez seem to be in the headlines of scoring a lot as they should be, one player often not talked about in the headlines is Brennen Miller of Valley Falls (2A). The senior is averaging 6.7 assists per contest to lead the state of Kansas for the Dragons (18-0). Roman Hauser of Norton is also averaging 6.3 assists while Isaiah Atwater, a rising D2 recruit ofr Maize South, is averaging 6.1 along with Bailey SIdes (Northern Valley)
Tamara Lozoya is putting together a big year for Attica with 23 points per contest for her squad (12-5). More importantly, she is averaging 7.2 steals per contest.
Bralen Thompson, recently featured for his dunks on Sports in Kansas, is having a big senior year for the Cardinals of Hoisington. He is averaging 19.4 points per game and 6.4 rebounds.
Eli Lawson of Bennington is having a breakout sophomore year. The 6’6″ post is averaging 20.4 points per game and 10.3 boards. He also chips in nearly three blocks per contest.
The great Sarwinski family from Galena continued remarkable careers. Brett surpassed the school scoring record with 1,235 points. Mia, a junior, went over 1,000 career points. Galena boys are third in 3A. Solomon’s Makeen Hastings and Central Plains’ Brynna Hammeke both cleared 1,000. Central Plains is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, Division II and is the defending state champion. Mia Sarwinaki, Hastings and Hammeke are all juniors making it even more impressive for the 1,000-point milestone.
In a matchup of ranked teams on Tuesday, Colgan girls beat St. Paul, 46-13, in a non-conference game. St. Paul is 15-2 with a 65-50 loss to 3A power Frontenac on Jan. 31. Colgan stands at 17-0. Colgan is ranked fourth in 2A, St. Paul is seventh in 1A-I.