By CONOR NICHOLL
The busiest and perhaps best regular season weekend of the basketball season concluded Saturday with a host of midseason tournaments and top matchups. Highlighted tournaments included: Dodge City Tournament of Champions, Salina, Mid-Continent League, Hillsboro, Colby, Twin Valley League and McPherson. This next week marks the second week of midseason tournaments.
We start, though, with the Sterling girls and Hillsboro boys, which currently owns the longest winning streaks for girls and boys in Kansas. Plus, both teams avenged their last loss this weekend, too. Both Hesston boys and Hanover boys saw its long winning streaks end. Multiple No. 1 ranked teams took defeats.
Sterling wins own tournament with multiple ranked teams – has longest current streak in Kansas
Sterling is the defending Class 2A champion and has been ranked No. 1 in Class 2A all season. The Black Bears, under coach Jill Rowland, are one of Kansas’ most well-known and experienced teams. Sterling already owns a road win versus Central Plains, which is the defending 1A-II state champion.
The Black Bears returned all five starters and 10 varsity players, including eight seniors. Stars include Kali Briar, the reigning 2A SIK Player of the Year, along with Sadie Beagley, Bennie Horsch and Makenna Linden, and 6-foot-4 freshman Lily Gray.
Sterling’s last loss was a 65-44 defeat to Hugoton at the Sterling Invitational tournament on Jan. 22, 2021. Sterling finished last season with 14 straight wins. The Black Bears are 12-0 this year and have now Kansas’ longest current streak at 26 contests.
Sterling is the only returning girls’ state title team that has not suffered a loss. Shawnee Mission Northwest had the longest winning streak before taking losses on Jan. 4 to Olathe Northwest and Jan. 19 to Washburn Rural.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the defending 5A girls state champions, last lost on Feb. 19, 2021 to rival Bishop Miege. Aquinas opened 10-0 before a 56-40 loss Friday to Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge, a regional/national power that is 15-0.
The Sterling tournament had multiple highlighted games that earned state attention. First, in an under-the-radar result, Scott City entered with four losses. However, SC has experienced coach Amy Felker, who won a state title at Dighton among multiple other big seasons with the Hornets.
In the Sterling quarterfinals, Scott City pulled a 50-34 upset against Smoky Valley. SC is currently 6-6, and Smoky Valley is 8-3. SV has been ranked No. 9 in 3A and owns a win against rival Southeast of Saline in December.
Scott City held Smoky Valley to 26 percent shooting and received 13 points and 11 rebounds from Brooke Strine in a 50-34 victory.
Then, Sterling beat Scott City, 63-49, in Thursday’s semifinals. In the second semifinal, SE Saline beat Hugoton, 61-58, in overtime. SES is ranked No. 10 in 3A, and Hugoton is ranked No. 1 in 3A.
In a result that SIK highlighted earlier this week, Maddie Harris delivered 17 points for SES, a team that returns all five starters, including 1,000-point scorer Karsyn Schlesener.
On Friday, Smoky Valley defeated Kingman, 41-35, and finished the tournament 2-1. Hugoton beat GWAC foe Scott City, 58-29, and earned third with a 2-1 tournament mark. Then, Sterling defeated Southeast of Saline, 69-67, in overtime to keep the perfect season alive. Sterling picked up its fifth title in own tournament, following ’14, ’16-19.
Sterling had a huge comeback versus SES. The Black Bears trailed by seven at halftime, 12 in the third quarter and 10 entering the fourth. Briar tied the game with a long trey with 27 seconds left. The all-tournament team featured Schlesener, Harris, Briar and Linden. Briar scored 22 points in the championship.
Hugoton boys won this tournament for a second straight season with a 44-30 win versus Sterling. Sophomore Ryle Riddlesperger has been a key player under first-year coach Trey O’Neil, one of Kansas’ top young coaches. Hugoton is 8-3 overall with two losses to 6A Olathe West at the season-opening Hays City Shoot-Out. Hugoton has won four straight and has more than 80 percent of its points from non-seniors. Junior Carson Bennett has 15.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game. Riddlesperger has 11.6 points a game. Both players made the Sterling all-tournament team. Bennett earned Most Inspirational Player. Riddlesperger won the 3-point contest.
In non-Hays City Shoot-Out games the last two seasons, Hugoton is 27-2.
Hillsboro takes over with longest current boys’ streak at 22 contests
Just over 60 miles east of Sterling on US-56E, Hillsboro boys captured its own tournament Saturday in a matchup of No. 1-ranked and Central Kansas League teams.
Class 3A No. 1 Hesston faced 2A No. 1 Hillsboro. Both are defending state champions. Hillsboro beat Hesston, 39-29, in the Hillsboro tournament championship. Hillsboro improved to 12-0, and Hesston dropped to 9-1.
Like Sterling, Hillsboro is highly experienced and senior-laden under longtime coach Darrel Knoll. The seniors include Matthew Potucek, Grayson Ratzlaff and Duncan Duell. Potucek is at 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists a contest, and Grayson has delivered 12.6 points and six rebounds a game. Plus, junior Brekyn Ratzlaff has 16.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
Hillsboro has won 22 straight contests – with its last defeat a 44-30 loss to Hesston on Feb. 11, 2021. Overall, Hillsboro is 35-1 in its last 36 games. Hillsboro had lost its last two to Hesston and was 1-9 in its last 10 versus the Swathers.
Hesston had its winning streak end at 20 games. Hillsboro led Hesston by eight at halftime and by five after the third quarter. In its three tournament games, Hillsboro allowed 22, 40, and 29 points. Hesston permitted 11, 25 and 39.
Eureka, under legendary coach Shelly Hoyt, beat Clay Center, 53-28 in the Hillsboro tournament championship. Brooklyn and Cady Ptacek, along with Abby and Ashley Singhateh had key performances for Eureka, which is ranked fifth in 3A. Eureka stands at 10-1.
Hanover boys win streak ends in TVL title; Centralia sweeps; girls win in matchup of undefeated teams; Centralia girls new No. 1?
Last season, Hanover boys went 23-1 and finished the season with 20 straight victories, including a dominant run to a Class 1A, Division II state title. The only loss came against Twin Valley League rival Centralia, 68-56, on Dec. 18, 2020. Hanover was 10-0 and had its winning streak halt at 30 games.
Hanover has been ranked first in Division II all year. On Saturday, Hanover lost, 57-50, to Centralia in the TVL championship. The teams will play again this Friday. Centralia outscored Hanover, 36-26, in second half.
Centralia stands at 8-2. Junior Trenton Talley delivered 12 points. Senior Presly Bowers tallied 15 points. Senior Colton Weyer had 11 points, along with three 3s. For Hanover, three players had 12 or 13 points: Keagan Dimler, Josh Zarybnicky, and Philip Doebele. Plus, Emmitt Jueneman finished with eight points. The reigning SIK Player of the Year, Jueneman has averaged 13 points a game. In a 63-41 season-opening win versus Centralia, Jueneman tallied 23 points.
Centralia girls, ranked third in Class 1A, Division I, won the TVL girls’ title and remained undefeated this year. Centralia owns wins against Hanover (No. 3 in 1A-II) and 3A Nemaha Central. Centralia defeated Valley Heights, 42-40, in the finals.
VH is ranked second in 2A behind Sterling. Valley Heights was 11-0 entering the contest. Centralia hit a 3 from Lena Haverkamp for the game-winning points. Avery and Oen Deters have had big years for Centralia, which should be No. 1 in Class 1A, Division I when the new rankings are released this week.
There are four undefeated teams left in 1A-I: Centralia, St. Paul, Hodgeman County and Norwich. However, none has the quality of victories of Centralia, which is 3-0 against Hanover, 3A Nemaha Central and Valley Heights. Those teams have a combined four losses when not playing the Panthers.
6A No. 1 Lawrence Free State wins McPherson tournament championship, 6A No. 2 Blue Valley Northwest collects Pittsburg title
Lawrence Free State, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A and considered Kansas’ best team, won the McPherson Invitational. Free State had a double-overtime victory versus McPherson in the semifinals. In the championship, Free State beat St. James, 64-59. Free State’s Jordan Brown earned MVP. He and Cooper Jackson scored 16 points. McPherson is ranked fifth in 4A.
Free State is 8-0 and had not played for a month because of coronavirus. McPherson finished third with a 45-30 win versus Topeka Seaman. Free State is the only 6A undefeated team. FS had not played from Dec. 17 to Jan. 20. Free State opened the McPherson tournament, 73-34, against City League power Bishop Carroll. FS has two overtime victories.
Class 6A No. 2 Blue Valley Northwest won the midseason Pittsburg tournament that includes Owasso, Oklahoma and Missouri powers Joplin and Vashon. Northwest paces 6A East with a 9-1 record. Northwest has won seven straight games, including the last three versus non-Kansas teams: Park Hill (58-55), Joplin (63-56) and Vashon (69-59). Northwest will have its rematch with Blue Valley North on Feb. 4. Northwest lost Blue Valley North, 58-47.
Wichita Heights wins Dodge City Tournament of Champions
Class 6A No. 4 Wichita Heights defeated Campus, 55-48, to win the prestigious Dodge City Tournament of Champions. T.J. Williams finished with 16 points, 6 of 10 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists.
Marcus Zeigler finished with 4 of 10 shooting, including four made 3s, for 12 points and five rebounds. Heights is historically known for offensive rebounding and held a plus-18 edge on the glass. Wichita Heights is 11-1 under longtime coach Joe Auer.
For Campus, Zion Young scored 14 points, Aiden Sutter tallied 11, and Andrell Burton Jr. scored 11.
Host Dodge City (No. 3 6A) continued its great year with a 59-52 third-place win versus 5A defending state champion Maize. DC’s Cooper Scheck delivered 22 points with 7 of 13 shooting, including 4 of 10 shooting from 3. Dodge City continues to shoot the 3-pointer very well with 10 of 23 from beyond the arc. Maize had four players between 10 and 13 points: Kyle Grill, Avery Johnson, Mason Belcher and Jaden Gustafson. Grill has committed to Fort Hays basketball. Johnson in Kansas’ best male three-sport athlete with many D1 football offers.
In the semifinal, Campus held off Dodge City, 50-48, for the Red Demons’ first loss this season. Burton scored 23 points. DC stands at 12-1.
Salina Central girls continue dominance
Class 5A No. 2 Salina Central girls rolled to the Salina Invitational tournament championship and continued its dominant season. SC beat Andover, 56-36, in the final. Salina Central’s Aubrie Kierscht, a Navy commit and likely Kansas’ best shooter, tallied 21 points and earned tournament MVP honors. SC won its first tournament title since 2017. Salina Central improved to 11-0. Additionally, the all-tournament team featured SC teammates: Mykayla Cunningham, Hampton Williams and Chaliscia Samilton.
The other all-tournament team selections were South’s Sydney Peterson, along with Andover’s Brooke Walker and Alana Shetlar, Abilene’s Jenna Hayes, and Liberal’s Ashley Carrillo and Keyona Hall. Liberal is ranked eighth in 6A.
Salina South’s Kylie Arnold earned Most Inspirational Player honors.
Liberal girls finished third behind 26 points from Carrillo in Saturday’s big win versus Concordia. Andover pulled a slight upset, 37-31, against Liberal in the semifinals.
Salina Central stands at 11-0 and has won every game by at least 19 points – that includes wins versus rival Salina South, Andover Central (7-2), Goddard (8-2) and Andover (6-5).
Thomas More Prep-Marian sweeps Mid-Continent League crowns
Thomas More Prep-Marian girls and boys swept the Mid-Continent League titles, held Saturday at Plainville. TMP girls beat Phillipsburg. TMP boys gave WaKeeney-Trego its first loss this winter. Trego is ranked No. 8 in 2A.
TMP boys opened with losses with 5A Hays High and 6A Lawrence Free State in the Hays City Shoot-Out. Since then, the Monarchs have won eight in a row.
TMP girls defeated Smith Center with a game-winning shot in the final 10 seconds in the tournament semifinals before the championship Saturday. SC is ranked sixth in 2A, and Phillipsburg stands seventh in 3A.
TMP girls had big tournaments from posts Emilee Lane and Jaci VonLintel, and a strong championship from Sophia Balthazor. VonLintel, who was out in December, had at least 20 points in each of the last two contests.
TMP boys have enjoyed nice seasons from Dylan Werth, Jace Wentling, Kenton Ginther, Kade Harris and Gavin Unrein. The 6-foot-6 Werth was out early in the year with injury.
Eudora girls defeat 4A No. 1 Wamego
Eudora girls won the Tonganoxie tournament and defeated Class 4A top-ranked Wamego in the championship. Eudora is ranked fourth in 4A girls, and Wamego is first in 4A girls. Eudora is 8-1.
Harper Schreiner, a returning first team all-state pick and Pittsburg State commit who recently cleared 1,000 career points, was tournament MVP. Mackenzie Meyer and junior Sawyer Schreiner earned all-tournament team. Tonganoxie’s Regan Seba picked up Most Inspirational Player honors.
Big performances from 5A Boys teams – Topeka West, Hays High and Kapaun
Topeka West, which earned 5A runner-up to Maize last winter, returned standout Elijah Brooks. He is averaging more than 27 points per game, along with 7.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals a contest. T-West improved to 10-1 and won to Topeka Invitational. West defeated Wichita Northwest in the championship. West, Kapaun, and Hays High pace 5A West as the three teams with one loss apiece. West has easily paced 5A West in offense with more than 69 points a game.
Hays High boys win Colby Orange and Black – 41-2 in its last 43 games
Hays High boys won the Colby Orange and Black for the second straight year with 63-42 win versus Olathe North. HHS’ Jace Linenberger, Jordan Dale and Carson Kieffer earned all-tournament team, and Wesley Oakley picked up all-academic. Linenberger earned tournament MVP. HHS is 11-1 with only an overtime loss to 6A No. 1 Lawrence Free State in the final of the Hays City Shoot-Out in December.
Hays High is a remarkable 41-2 in its last 43 games, Kansas’ best winning percentage for any team in that stretch. HHS won its last eight en route to a Forever Four showing two years ago, then went 22-1, and is 11-1 this season.
Linenberger was also named Most Inspirational Player of the Shoot-Out. Dale, a Washburn track signing, had an impressive steal and dunk in the semifinals against Beloit. Hays High is ranked sixth in 3A.
Hays High girls finished third at the Colby Orange and Black. The Indians, 6-15 a year, were a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December. HHS has already exceeded its win total and stands at 7-5. In an epic semifinal contest, Class 3A No. 4 Goodland held off Hays High in double overtime. Junior Carly Lang and freshman Molly Martin earned all-tournament team honors. Senior Jersey Johnson picked up All-Academic team.
Also in Colby, Colby’s Brooklynn Jones, who has committed to Division II Metro State (Colo.), won the 3-point contest, earned all-tournament team and academic all-tournament team.
Goodland girls (12-2) finished second in the Colby tournament with a 57-48 championship loss to Life Prep, a non-KSHSAA school.
Kapaun boys wins Bluestem Classic
In the Bluestem Classic, Kapaun Mt. Carmel finished first. KMC’s Henry Thengvall picked up tournament MVP honors. The All-Hustle results went to KMC’s Luke Porter, El Dorado’s Jaydon Sundgren, Goddard’s Seth Wilhelm, Wichita Collegiate’s James Shackelford, and Great Bend’s Joe Moeder.
The all-tournament team was KMC’s Thengvall, Collegiate’s Wesley Fair, KMC’s Will Anciaux, Thengvall, Dominic Shipley and Luke Porter, along with El Dorado’s LJ Berkstresser, Great Bend’s Stefan Spray, Collegiate’s Jack Duarte.
KMC is ranked third in 5A. Wichita Collegiate is fourth in 3A.
Other top finishes
Riverside girls captured the McLouth tournament with a 51-21 win versus Cair Paravel. Taylor Weishaar and Halle Studer picked up all-tournament team honors.
Royal Valley, ranked second in 3A boys, won the Panther Classic and remained perfect.
Valley Falls defeated Perry-Lecompton, 65-62, and won the Oskaloosa championship. VF, featured on SIK earlier this week as one of the remaining undefeated teams in Kansas, improved to 12-0. Junior Dylan Cervantez paced with 33 points. Valley Falls is ranked third in 2A boys.
Girard boys and girls, both featured on SIK All-Access last week, picked up tournament titles at the Wilson County Classic. The Girard girls are an under the radar team to circle in 3A. The Girard boys are also part of a loaded CNC league that has some state championship contenders once again in 2022.
Ness City beat undefeated Greeley County, 80-60, to win the Northwest Kansas League championship. Taylor Cable delivered 33 points, Jose Guzman tallied 20, Corbin Ross had 11 and Jackson Seib scored 10. NC, which plays in the Central Prairie League, has won the Northwest Kansas League tournament each of the last two seasons.
Ness City is unranked, and Greeley County is ranked third in 1A, Division II behind Hanover and Northern Valley. NC is 8-3 and won six in a row. Two of the Eagles’ losses have come against Macksville and WaKeeney-Trego, both one loss teams.
Cair Paravel beat Pleasant Ridge in overtime to win the McLouth tournament. Noah Hastert finished with 31 points. Zach Clark delivered 19, and Ethan Everhart finished with 11.
Nemaha Central boys won its own Thunder Classic and stands at 11-1 this season. NC is ranked sixth in 3A.
Cheney’s Harrison Voth collected 52nd annual Adolph Rupp tournament MVP honors in Halstead. Voth was the 3A Offensive Player of the Year in football. Andale’s Zach Winter earned the free throw championship, and Andale’s Jacksyn Potucek was the 3-point champion.
The all-tournament team was Haven’s Brandt Sipe, Cheney’s Luke Grace, Rose Hill’s Adriel Smith, Andale’s Wyatt Spexarth, Potucek, Cheney’s Rylan Doshier, Haven’s Dalton Schrag, and Cheney’s Harrison Middleton. Cheney stands at 11-0 in the 3A Nickerson sub-state. The Cardinals are ranked third in 3A behind Hesston and Royal Valley.
Rose Hill boys took third at Halstead. Kellan Simoneau tallied 24 points, and standout scorer Adriel Smith scored 17.
KC Harmon won the Baldwin City Invitational tournament. Jamrion Evans, Linnel Lane and Eddie King picked up all-tournament team.
On Friday, in a non-tournament, non-league game, Little River won at home, 43-29, against Burlingame. LR is ranked fifth in Class 1A, Division I, and Burlingame is first in Division II. However, Burlingame lost twice last week, including to Lebo (No. 2 in 1A-II). Burlingame and Lebo will be the Lyon County League tournament favorites this week. LR senior Lily Boughfman, a Fort Hays volleyball commit, delivered 17 points on eight of 15 shooting.
Columbus, which was featured on SIK earlier this month, won the Southeast-Cherokee Lancer Classic champions for the first time in 11 years. Columbus is unranked.
Osborne girls won the Northern Plains League championship for the first time since it joined the league after it came over from the Mid-Continent League. Osborne improved to 11-1. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 8 in Class 1A, Division I.
Lakin boys captured the Hi-Plains League tournament for a third straight year with a 72-68 win versus Southwestern Heights. Servando Gonzalez tallied 36 points and Allen Martinez delivered 24. Lakin has two losses, to 6A Dodge City and 3A Holcomb (66-61). Holcomb (9-1) and Lakin (8-2) are both in the Kingman sub-state. Lakin is unranked.
In the Hi-Plains League girls’ basketball tournament final, undefeated Elkhart stayed perfect with a win versus Lakin. Elkhart won the league championship for a third year in a row and stand 11-0 this winter. Before the last three seasons, Elkhart had not won the league title since the late ‘70s. Elkhart is ranked seventh in 2A.
Also in the Hi-Plains League, Stanton County’s Adyson Scott delivered 40 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. She broke the tournament record for most points in a game and set the tournament record for most field goals in a contest.
Marmaton Valley coach Becky Carlson picked up career win No. 500 with state titles at Iola and Hillsboro.
Moundridge won the Canton-Galva tournament championship as Logan Churchill took home the tournament MVP.
Jefferson County North’s Ryan Feldkamp went over 1,000 career points, including 37 as JCN beat Oskaloosa, 62-44. JCN is ranked ninth in 2A.
Hoisington girls and Pratt boys each captured its first-ever Winter Jam championship, a tournament that has run for 17 years. Hoisington earned a win against Cimarron in the tournament semifinals and beat Pratt, 53-31, for the first Winter Jam championship. Macy Hanzlick scored 27 points in the semifinals and 17 in the title.
The all-tournament team featured Hanzlick, Hoisington’s Jordyn Boxberger, Pratt’s Gabby Gatlin and Lexi Miller, Cimarron’s McKayla Miller (Div. I offers) and Caitlyn Sondy, Ellsworth’s Natalie Rolfs and Rylan Ohl, Ellinwood’s Brittany Simpson and Victoria’s Melany Huser.
Pratt delivered a 53-45 win against previously undefeated Ellinwood. Pratt is ranked tenth in Class 4A. Karter and Carson Hoeme, Payton Koehler and Carson Hoeme all had big tournaments for Pratt. The Greenbacks have been a slight surprise this winter and have just two losses, to 3A Cheney and 5A Hays High. Cheney is undefeated, and Hays High has just one loss.
Oberlin girls earned the Northwest Kansas League championship with a 37-22 win versus Rawlins County.
Uniontown won its own Kenny Holt tournament, named its memory of its late coach. Uniontown made 18 treys in one game and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Inman boys picked up a Burrton tournament title. Tanner Heckel and Jace Doerksen earned all-tournament team honors. Heckel, a sophomore, was tournament MVP. Both players were first team all-state football for Inman’s state runner-up team. Inman is unranked, though has just one loss, a 65-37 defeat to Hillsboro in the second game this season. Inman will play Cheney in a huge contest Tuesday.
The Whitewater sub-state features undefeated Hillsboro, Inman, Remington, Moundridge and Berean Academy, all teams that were 9-2 or better several days ago. Hillsboro, Inman, and Moundridge all won tournaments.
Silver Lake girls, also a SIK Potential Breakout Team in December, put together a strong showing at the Burlington Invitational. All-Academic went to MaKenzie McDaniel, Kaibryn Kruger, McKinley Kruger, Jersey Manhart and Taylor Zordel. Kruger and McDaniel picked up all-tournament team. Kruger was named MVP. Silver Lake is up to No. 3 in 3A with coach Kyle Porter. SL was unranked in the preseason.
In the final, Silver League lost fellow Mid-East League school Rock Creek, 60-55. SL is 9-1, Rock Creek is 11-1. RC is seventh in 4A girls.
Andover boys won the Salina Invitational tournament held at Kansas Wesleyan. AC is ranked sixth in 5A.
Olathe North girls featured on SIK several times this season, improved to 11-0. ON beat Blue Valley, 48-44, on Saturday, in the Basehor-Linwood tournament championship.
The all-tournament team at Basehor-Linwood included Blue Valley’s Jadyn Wooten, Clara Bax and Tiana Simmons. Olathe North featured Sania Copeland, YiiBari Nwidadah, Saniya Simmons, and Olathe West’s Keely Barnard. Copeland picked up tournament MVP honors. All five ON starters have signed for Division II or higher.
Bucklin’s Scott Price, featured several times this month both in print and video on SIK, cleared 1,000 career points. SIK has tracked Price as he has drawn closer to the milestone this month.
Tournaments this week:
Multiple major tournaments will occur this week.
Southern Plains Iroquois, one of the great tournaments, runs for more than week and concludes next Saturday at Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena. The girls’ side is loaded with undefeated Hodgeman County, Coldwater-South Central, Ashland and Minneola among the top teams. Undefeated South Gray boys defeated Bucklin, 78-74, in a regular season game earlier this month. Those two squads are favored to meet in the finals this week. Bucklin is ranked sixth in 1A-II. South Gray is first in 1A-I.
The Haven Wildcat Classic annually has an outstanding girls’ field. That has occurred again this year with Nickerson, Garden Plain, Andale and Cheney. Undefeated Nickerson is ranked third in 3A, Garden Plain is No. 10 in 2A, Andover is eighth in 5A, Cheney is sixth in 3A.
The Lyon County League is one of the most storied tournaments. On the girls’ side, Burlingame and Lebo are the favorites.