Call it a successful season, at least so far. Four CPL teams are headed to state. The St. John boys and Central Plains girls each earned top seeds at the Class 2A tournament, and both teams are still in the hunt for a perfect season.
The top-ranked Tiger boys will have a chance to defend their state title. Saturday, St. John again edged-out CPL rival Central Plains, this time for a sub-state title. The Tigers won that game 54-45, and also pounded Pratt-Skyline 63-19 and Medicine Lodge 48-23 to get to state. Saturday, St. John actually trailed by six at the half. Junior Dean Wade stepped up to score 35 points, including an 11-of-12 performance from the stripe. Cole Kinnamon finished with 13 points. The Tigers enter the Class 2A State Tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 23-0 record. They take on Washington County (14-8) on Thursday.
The Lady Tigers tried for the big upset. After taking down Kiowa County 42-34 to open-substate, the Lady Tigers slowed second-ranked Central Plains down, still falling 38-26. St. John ends the year at 16-6 with five of the six losses coming against ranked Central Plains and Ellinwood opponents. Senior Alexis Witt scored 10 points in the semifinal loss, and sophomore Bella Haskins scored seven points.
The Lady Oilers will take a perfect 23-0 record into the Class 2A State Tournament this week. On Monday, the girls downed Kinsley 62-17. The competition got tougher after that but Central Plains moved past St. John 38-26 to reach the finals where they downed No. 2 seed Ellinwood 60-44. In the Kinsley win, sophomore Taylor Rolfs scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the first half. Cassidy Crites and Kendi Maxwell each added eight points, and Breanna Schartz and Janae Ryan each scored six points. Central Plains will play St. Marys Colgan (14-9) Wednesday in Manhattan. No. 2 seed Jefferson County North also enters state with a 23-0 record.
The Oiler boys finish a successful year with four losses: all to top-ranked St. John. In Saturday’s sub-state finals in Greensburg, a game that could almost be described as the state championship game, Central Plains actually led by six at the half before St. John bounced back for a 54-45 win. To reach the finals, the third-ranked Oilers downed Ellinwood 62-44 and defeated South Central 58-41. Junior Layne Bieberle scored 19 points in the St. John loss, followed by 10 points from sophomore Michael Ryan. In Tuesday’s win against Ellinwood, Bieberle sat with a sprained ankle. Sophomore Braeden Crites scored all 16 of his points in the first half, and senior Konnor Hickel scored nine of his 12 points in the first quarter. Ryan also scored 12 points. The Oilers finish the season with a 19-4 record.
The Mustang boys are headed to state. Macksville used a late surge to climb into the Div. I rankings. After a round-one bye at the Burrton sub-state, the Mustangs downed LaCrosse 64-51. Victoria took care of top-seeded Fairfield in the other half of the bracket, and on Saturday, Macksville dominated Victoria 72-43. The score was tied at 15 after one quarter on Saturday. Macksville outscore the Knights 38-18 over the next two quarters and 19-10 in the final frame to get the big win. Senior Tanner Tranbarger led the team with 27 points, but It was senior Simon Millers 26 points and 21 rebounds that made the biggest difference. Junior Kaden Herman added 11 points. The seventh-ranked Mustangs (16-7) enter state as the No. 6 seed against Valley Heights (21-2) on Wednesday.
As the No. 6 seed, the Lady Mustangs tried hard to be Cinderella. They downed No. 3 Fairfield 52-51 on Tuesday, then edged out No. 2 Pretty Prairie 32-29 on Friday. Saturday, that run came to an end as the Lady ‘Stangs fell to No. 1 seed Victoria 45-25. Macksville trailed 17-11 at the half against Pretty Prairie, then held the Bulldogs to just six points in each of the final two quarters, including an 11-6 final frame that decided the game. Freshman Sophie Filbert scored 10 points in the win. Senior Clara Cross added eight points, and freshman Emma Stimatze scored seven points. Macksville ends the year at 5-17.
The Lady Knights opened the year with a big win against reining 2A champion Smith Center. It’s been up-and-down since then, but Saturday night, the girls punched their own ticket to state with a 45-25 win against Macksville. To reach the finals, top-seeded Victoria used a bye and a 54-31 win against No. 4 seed LaCrosse. In Saturday’s win, Victoria jumped out to a 15-3 lead after eight minutes. The Knights had a similar start against LaCrosse, leading 16-5 after one quarter. In that win, senior Audra Nowak led all scorers with 15 points. Senior Kristin Huser added 14 points, and freshman Sara Schippers added eight points. The Lady Knights enter the Div. I State Tournament as the No. 7 seed with a 14-9 record. They play Valley Heights (22-1) on Thursday.
The Victoria boys completed a winning season but came up just short of a state berth. Monday, the Knights pounded Burrton 78-58. Thursday, the again won big, this time upsetting top-seeded Fairfield 68-47. Against CPL-foe Macksville in the championship game, Victoria fell 72-43 to close the season at 12-11. The score was 27-23 at the half against Fairfield before the Knights outscored the Falcons 41-24 in the second half. Junior Bryan Dome finished with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Seniors Clayton Roth and Connor Gagnon each scored 12 points, and Roth grabbed eight boards. Junior Noah Dreiling finished with a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The Div. II sub-state at Barton Community College was fairly wide-open. To get to state, however, Otis-Bison would have to eliminate Coach Erin Patrick’s former Central Christian squad. After a bye, Otis-Bison downed Wilson 56-38 to set up that meeting with the Cougars. Central Christian proved to be too much, ending Otis-Bison’s year with a 68-53 loss. Saturday’s final was a close game early with Otis leading by two after one quarter and trailing by two at the half. Central Christian extended the lead to 46-38 by the end of three quarters. Kyle Patrick did his part with 28 of the 53 points. He also grabbed 15 rebounds. Hayden Maier added nine points and Kole Urban eight points.
The Lady Cougars also reached the sub-state finals where they fell to top-seeded Wilson 58-49. To reach that game, Otis-Bison downed Elyria Christian 34-27. In that semifinal win, the Cougars won the first half 17-8. Elyria shaved five points off that lead in the third quarter but Otis-Bison rebounded in the final frame for the win. Freshman Taylor Regan led all scorers with 18 points. Tigist Bannister added 10 points. Regan scored 28 points in Saturday’s loss to Wilson. The girls end the year with an 8-13 record.
The Leopard boys cruised through round one of the Burrton sub-state bracket with a 55-33 win against Pretty Prairie. That pitted LaCrosse against a surging Macksville squad. The Mustangs won that game 64-51 en route to a sub-state championship. The loss ended LaCrosses’s year at 13-8. Monday’s round-one game was decided early as the Leopards jumped out to a 20-6 lead after one quarter, pushing the gap to 34-17 by halftime. Nine players scored in the win, led by senior Lucas Moeder’s 12 points. Seniors Marshall Jay and Jacob Reifschneider each added nine points, and Andrew Jay and Chance Sherman each scored six points.
The Lady Leopards also picked up a sub-state win, downing Burrton 58-27 on Tuesday. In Friday’s semifinal, the girls fell to top-seeded and eventual champion Victoria 54-31. LaCrosse opened with a bang on Tuesday, leading Burrton 14-4 after one quarter and 29-10 at the half. Junior Alyssa Oborny hit three threes and led the team with 21 points. Sophomore Morgan West added 12 points and six rebounds, and junior Marissa Wagner scored 10 points. Freshman Olivia Baus grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with three points.
As the lone CPL representatives at the 2A sub-state in Syracuse, Ness City ran into a variety of unfamiliar opponents. The Lady Eagles still reached the championship game where they fell to top-seed Meade 56-29. No. 2 Ness City opened the post-season with a 51-34 win against Stanton County. In the semifinals, they downed Syracuse 56-34. In Monday’s win against Stanton, the Eagles won each of the first three quarters to lead 26-13 at the half and 40-22 heading into the final quarter. Jessie Rubottom scored 18 points in the win, and Regan Stiawalt finished with 11 points. Ness City closes the season with a 15-8 record.
The Eagle boys entered the brackets as the No. 7 seed where they upset Elkhart 69-62 on Tuesday. No. 2 Meade downed Ness City 80-63 en route to a sub-state championship. The Eagles finish the season at 8-14.
The Coyote basketball teams entered a tough Kiowa County sub-state near the bottom of their respective brackets. The Lady Coyotes opened with a 62-17 loss to unbeaten Central Plains on Monday. The boys had a little better chance as the No. 6 seed, but they fell to No. 3 South Central 58-33 on Tuesday. The boys finish the year at 6-15, and the Lady Coyotes close the book on a 4-17 season.
The girls struggled to find offense early in their loss, falling behind 15-4 after one quarter and 30-6 by halftime. Just four players scored in the loss. Junior Amber Espinosa scored 11 of the 17 points. Ana Ordaz, Scout Frame, and Lydia Duft each scored two points. The young Kinsley team has the opportunity to return its entire roster next season.