By CONOR NICHOLL
Class 3A boys featured 11 undefeated teams after December concluded, according to the records available on the KSHSAA web site. The group had Osawatomie, Burlington, Hugoton, Baxter Springs, Haven, Larned, Hesston, Maur Hill, Rock Creek, Riley County and Royal Valley.
Osawatomie, Burlington, Baxter Springs, Maur Hill, Riley County and Royal Valley all had four wins or fewer. Of that group, only Riley County (4-0) were ranked.
The Falcons were fifth in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll released Dec. 23. Since 2020 started, Osawatomie has already suffered a loss, Jan. 3 to Wellsville.
Of the remaining five, all but Haven – perhaps the most underrated team in Kansas after December – was ranked Dec. 23. Hesston was second, Larned third, Hugoton fourth, and Rock Creek sixth. Those five teams were all 5-0 as of Jan. 5.
Haven was the only 6-0 squad in Class 3A.
Overall, Haven was one of just six 6-0 boys’ teams for all classes entering the holiday break. The Wildcats joined 6A Manhattan, 4A KC Piper and three 1A teams: Berean Academy, Clifton-Clyde and Montezuma-South Gray.
Manhattan was ranked second in 6A, Piper is first in 4A, and SG and Berean were third and fourth, respectively in 1A. C-C was unranked, and lost 60-35 to Axtell on Jan. 3.
Haven, with 12th-year coach Lonnie Paramore, went 13-8 and 14-7 the last two winters. Paramore returned a pair of starters in seniors Wyatt Carmichael and Clay Schmucker. Carmichael was second team all-Central Kansas League as a junior after he delivered 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds a contest. Carmichael collected honorable mention all-state by the Wichita Eagle.
This season, Carmichael, tied for the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-3, has helped Haven deliver strong defense in its trademark 1-3-1 look. Haven opened 2020 with a 44-38 home win versus Sedgwick on Jan. 7, and then rolled over Halstead, 64-27, at home on Jan. 14. Haven moved into the rankings at ninth in 3A on Jan. 14.
Haven, Hugoton (7-0), Hesston (8-0), Maur Hill (7-0), Rock Creek (7-0) and Royal Valley (6-0) are the only 3A undefeated squads. Maur Hill has permitted 32 points a contest, Haven 33 to lead 3A.
“We have really worked hard in practice,” Carmichael said. “We have been pushing it really hard, and we have a team that really wants to work, and they get it there on off days, and they shoot the ball, and we’ve just been putting in a lot of work in the summer.”
Last season, Haven opened 3-3, including a 67-65 loss to Hutchinson Trinity, a 51-45 defeat at Kingman and a 51-35 loss versus Central Plains. The Wildcats allowed 51.5 points per game in those six contests. Haven graduated five seniors, though returned eight lettermen.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that did get some varsity minutes,” Paramore said.
In the summer, Haven played multiple bigger schools, including Circle.
“In the summer time actually we play a whole lot of man to man, so we know that we can defend in any particular defense,” Paramore said. “They have a lot of confidence in anything that we run, but the 1-3-1 has gotten us quite a few miles.”
The Wildcats split with Class 5A power McPherson and defeated Newton before Northwestern commit Ty Berry transferred to Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy.
“Kids just growing in confidence, and that’s something that you just can’t get unless you’ve experienced it,” Paramore said.
This season, Haven has flipped all three of those results. The Wildcats opened with a 62-60 victory versus Trinity Catholic, the defending 2A runner-up. Then, Haven won at Kingman, 55-49, at the Kingman Classic tournament. As well, Haven owns a 50-26 win versus Sterling (5-2).
The Black Bears defeated Belle Plaine on Dec. 20. BP has been ranked No. 3 in 2A.
“Our defense, our 1-3-1 has just been vicious this year, and I am really proud of our guys, and everyone is stepping up and playing some great defense right now,” Carmichael said.
Haven beat Central Plains, 48-24, on Dec. 20, the final game before holiday break. CP has won back-to-back state titles but took massive graduation losses.
“Nobody runs it as good as we do, and it’s kind of stuck as our staple,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael and 6-foot junior Darby Roper earned all-tournament honors at Kingman.
“We have got a lot of 5-8 guys, too, that just fly around,” Paramore said. “They seem a little longer than they actually are. They get their hands on balls. That’s something we always chart is deflections, steals. Each guy just tries to get his hands on more balls than the next guy, and it’s kind of a feeding frenzy at times.”
Against Central Plains, Haven tallied the game’s first 17 points. Carmichael delivered a game-high 18 points. Carmichael had never dunked in a game, though had dunked often in practice.
With 6 minutes, 10 seconds left, Carmichael delivered a dunk. He jumped, got the ball off the glass off an offensive rebound and scored. Carmichael said the play happened “a lot” in the summer, and he laid it in.
“All my teammates got mad at me,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael, though, wanted to give the Haven fans who made the 154-mile round trip to Claflin “a show” and elected to dunk. Carmichael posted an exclamation note on Twitter.
“On a putback even, so that was really exciting for him,” Paramore said. “But I think his teammates have more fun than he did with that one.”
In addition, the Haven girls, with longtime coach Dwight Roper, are ranked No. 8 in 3A. Haven is 6-2 and only has losses to Central Plains (No. 1 in 1A) and Sterling (No. 1 in 2A). Coach Paramore’s daughter, Faith, cleared 1,000 career points earlier this season and has signed with Division I Oral Roberts.