Basketball in Kansas: State’s cream of the crop shines out; notes from all classes

Atchison County’s Addison Schletzbaum recently became the Tigers’ all-time leading scorer. She has also re-made her game this season, which has yielded great team success (Photo submitted).


Each season, around two dozen elite players and their teams form the fabric of the basketball season on a statewide level.

On Friday, several of those highest echelon performers reached or were honored for a milestone. That group included Atchison County’s Addison Schletzbaum, Phillipsburg’s Taryn Sides, Ellinwood’s Brit Dutton, Blue Valley’s Jadyn Wooten and Andover Central’s Kobe Smith. Plus, Derby’s Addy Brown, a McDonald’s All-American, continued one of the more unique statistical seasons in recent Kansas history.

As SIK detailed last week, Sides and Dutton both had a strong chance to hit 2,000 career points on the same night. That occurred.

Sides became the No. 29 girl to reach 2,000 points, while Dutton became the No. 23 boy. Greeley County’s Jaxson Brandl accomplished the milestone earlier this month. Sides is headed to Kansas State, Dutton to Division II Illinois-Springfield. Their teams have a combined one loss. Sides has around 23 points a game, Dutton 27.

Wooten and Sides were both top-5 all classes last winter. A junior, Wooten has committed to Oklahoma State. She was honored for 1,000 career points.

Wooten has helped Blue Valley to a 12-5 mark. Per KC High School Hoops, Wooten has 19.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Wooten has helped Blue Valley to a .928 points per possession. Andover Central’s Smith reached 1,000 career points for a 14-4 team. Smith has 19.4 points per game.

Phillipsburg is ranked second in 3A, AC is ranked fifth in 3A. Ellinwood is fifth in 2A boys. Andover Central is fifth in 5A boys, Blue Valley sixth in 6A girls. Derby is second in 6A girls.

Atchison County’s Schletzbaum became the school’s all-time point leader, which surpassed Tara Ellerman’s mark set in 2012. Her coach, Austin Eckert, is ACHS’ all-time boys’ scoring leader. Schletzbaum, a University of St. Mary commit, has significantly changed her game this season – which has helped her team play a much higher standard.

She has 1,064 career points. At a summer showcase last June, Schletzbaum suffered an ACL injury. She attended physical therapy three mornings a week from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Plus, she went to Lawrence twice a week for personal training. She was cleared just before basketball started and couldn’t have contact until a couple weeks after.

“We have some really good senior leadership,” Eckert told SIK.

As a junior, Schletzbaum delivered 15 points, five rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.7 turnovers per game helped the Tigers to a 17-5 mark. Still, ACCHS had turnovers on 26 percent of possessions and scored .887 points per possession.

This year, ACCHS completed the regular season 19-1 with a much higher efficiency. Schletzbaum still broke the school scoring record even though she has her lowest scoring average of any of her four seasons.

She has 9.8 points, though has significantly bettered nearly all the rest of her numbers. Schletzbaum has 6.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.1 steals – just 1.8 turnovers per contest. Last year, she took 306 shots. She has taken 162 shots this winter.

However, her ability to direct the offense and help get high quality shots has upped ACCHS’s offensive efficiency to 1.01 points per possession. The turnovers have taken a big improvement to just 21 percent of possessions.

On Feb. 14, Atchison County had an 82-48 win against McLouth. Natalie Nitz, the school’s all-time best 3-point shooter, paced with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. Schletzbaum delivered 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Aleah Wallisch had 19 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kinzee Bauerle has 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.

In a 63-43 win Friday against Oskaloosa, Nitz finished with 19 points, Wallisch had 16, Bauerle with 11 and Schletzbaum with nine. Schletzbaum’s game change will likely help ACCHS to the best season in school annals.

Compared to last winter, Sides’ scoring has dropped (she is still second for all classes), but her all-around game has helped Phillipsburg dominate its schedule. Phillipsburg is 19-0 and will likely complete the best regular season in school annals. She, like Dutton, Wooten, Schletzbaum and the other stars mentioned above, have lifted their teams in all areas, not just in scoring.

Derby’s Brown, like Sides and Wooten, is a returning top-5 all-classes player. Derby is 16-2 and has won seven in a row. On Friday, the Panthers defeated Maize South, 54-32. Derby has key matchups at Hutchinson and versus Maize this week. Derby defeated Maize South, 44-35, on Dec. 20. Maize South has plenty of talent, especially post Avery Lowe, a Nebraska-Kearney commit and in strong position for state defensive player of the year.

Brown finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Junior Destiny Smith had a big game with 26 points on 8 of 11 shooting. Brown leads Derby in the six major categories: 20.2 points, 56 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.2 blocks a contest. Just five players in NBA history, most recently Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, have led their team in all five categories (discounting field goal shooting). Brown ran point-forward in the second half and helped Derby pull away for the win.

Lowe helped Maize South with seven points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Maize South is 13-5.

Other milestones, records, standouts

Garden City boys, one of Kansas’ biggest turnarounds, won the Western Athletic Conference title after a 56-48 win against Hays High on Friday. HHS had captured the last three WAC crowns. GC is 18-1 and fourth in 6A. Jace Steinmetz finished with 21 points.

Wamego girls, ranked No. 1 in 4A, won the North Central Kansas League crown. The Red Raiders were final four in 4A last season. Wamego is 18-1 and has won nine straight.

Thomas More Prep-Marian boys improved to 17-2 and won its 16th straight game with a 47-42 win against Norton. TMP is undefeated in Mid-Continent League regular season and tournament play for the second straight year. The Monarchs are ranked second in 2A boys.

Axtell’s Owen Strathman ended his basketball career with two points and a rebound to end his career in a contest against Blue Valley-Randolph. The 6-foot-4 Strathman was injured in the sub-state football game and has been out for the year. He was a standout player on both of Axtell’s undefeated Eight-Man, Division II football titles the last two years.

Linn senior Sophia Bott cleared 170 career treys against the Doniphan West game last Friday. Bott holds the school record for most treys made at Linn. The Bulldogs are 11-8 with the top-three scorers all at 10 or 11 points per game: sophomore Marcella Huerta, senior Claire Beikmann and Bott. This winter, Bott has made 31 treys, half her team’s total.

Flinthills’ Nate Becker delivered 26 points in a win against Oxford and went over 1,000 career points.

Valley Falls’ Zac Evans hit a buzzer-beater in a 52-51 win against Jefferson County North.

Hartford’s Ali Smith went over 1,000 career points. Bennington’s Eli Lawson cleared 1,000 career points after a double overtime victory against Ellsworth. Lebo’s Landon Grimmett scored 32 and went to 1,000 points.

Halstead’s Derek Schutte – who has led the Dragons to its only two state appearances in school annals – hit his 200th career victory. Halstead is 11-8 after an 8-13 mark last winter.

Clifton-Clyde improved to 18-2, 12-0 in the Twin Valley League. C-C boys won the TVL for the first time since 2001 after a 63-31 victory against Centralia. This marked the first time the Eagles won the TVL with an undefeated record. C-C has won nine straight. The Eagles were 15-7 last fall.

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