5 Things to watch for in High School Hoops: Week 11

The South Central girls defeated South Gray 44-40 to win the SPIAA Tournament Championship at United Wireless Arena in Dodge City on Saturday, January 26, 2019. (Photo: Everett Royer, www.ksportsimages.com)
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1.1A Regional Brackets announced – This year, Class 1A went back to one classification after it split into Class 1A, Division I and Class 1A, Division II from 2011-18. The one classification yields a week of regionals that starts next Monday. The top-two teams from each regional tournament will advance to their area sub-state tournament and be placed in opposite brackets. The winners of each sub-state form the final eight for the Class 1A state tournament held in Dodge City.

On Wednesday morning, KSHSAA announced the brackets for the 1A regionals. The Coldwater-South girls’ regional is highly challenging and likely two quality teams will have their seasons end early next week. On Monday, No. 4 seed Attica (14-5) plays host to No. 5 Kiowa South Barber (13-6). Also on Monday, No. 3 Bucklin (14-5) plays host to No. 6 seed Kiowa County (13-7).

South Central is the No. 1 seed at 17-2. The T-Wolves stand fifth in 1A.

Bucklin defeated Kiowa County – a 20-win team last season – earlier in the regular season, but KC came back for a big win in the third-place game in the league tournament. The Mavericks feature two outstanding players with guard Brecken VandenHoek and post Sabrina Thomas. Bucklin has senior Tricia Hokanson (13.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and sophomore Catherine Bowman (13.5 ppg).

KC has routinely used a box-and-one in recent weeks and had success, including against Bucklin in the 44-24 win on Jan. 26.

South Barber is the only Kansas team to beat South Central girls this winter. The Cheiftains lost, 30-29, to Attica on Jan. 24 and then again, 42-26, on Feb. 5. The Chieftains are 1-3 in their last four games. Takira Blick paces South Barber with 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Additionally, the Hodgeman County girls’ bracket features No. 1 seed Spearville (17-2), No. 2 Kinsley (13-6) and No. 3 Ingalls (12-7). Spearville is ranked eighth in 1A. Kinsley has Josena Frame and Rylee Gleason, while Ingalls has senior Ashlyn Cure, a 1,000-point scorer. Kinsley and Ingalls are expected to meet in the semifinals. Cure averages 18.2 points a contest.

The Little River boys bracket has St. John, which remains unranked in 1A, at 15-4, along with Little River (15-4), Stafford (12-7) and Hutchinson Central Christian (12-7). SJ defeated South Central, ranked No. 10 in 1A boys, on Tuesday to help earn the No. 1 seed.

The Tigers trailed by four at halftime but won 57-51. St. John has lost three times to undefeated Central Plains – on a 44-game winning streak – and once to 3A Hesston. All but one of the defeats are 13 points or fewer.

2. SPIAA girls’ league race decided Friday – It’s very rare for teams, both undefeated in league play, to match up in the final game of the season for the conference title. That’s the case Friday for the Southern Plains Iroquois girls’ crown. On Friday, South Central travels to Spearville. Both squads are 17-2, while SC is 10-0 in league and Spearville stands at 11-0.

SC also won the league tournament crown, while Spearville took an upset loss to Kiowa County in the first round of the league tournament. SC senior Bri Rutherford is up to 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 steals a contest. Jordyn Jellison averages 10.2 points and seven rebounds. Spearville counters with sophomore Alissa Heskamp and junior Ehlaina Hartman, who combine for 29.2 points a game.

3.City League boys’ title draws closer; SE looks to clinch Friday – Wichita Southeast picked up a huge victory against Heights, 72-64, on Tuesday. Heights has lost to East and Southeast in the last two contests, teams the Falcons defeated earlier in the year. Sophomore Jackie Johnson, who transferred from North after a standout freshman year, delivered 28 points. SE leads by two with two games to play and faces Kapaun on Friday.

SE is 16-2 with losses only against Heights and Lawrence. The Golden Buffalo are fourth in 6A, a spot ahead of Lawrence. Heights is No. 5 in 5A.

Southeast won at Kapaun, 49-40, on Dec. 14. In the first matchup against Heights, SE lost 78-56. A huge difference came in interior play. In the first contest, Heights, known for its offensive rebounding, shot 64 percent on 2-pointers. On Tuesday, Heights was 40 percent on 2s.

Southeast, 5-0 at home this season, is 2-3 against Kapaun in the last five contests. The Crusaders are just 8-11 but have the City League’s second-best defense at just 50.3 points permitted. In 5A West, only Maize, Salina Central and Heights allow fewer points per contest. Kapaun, though, scores just 50 a game. Southeast averages 69 a contest – second-most in 6A West behind Lawrence (71) – and permits 55 a game.

4. McPherson/Circle girls – On Friday, McPherson and Circle match up for the AVCTL Division III title in Circle. Since 2013, McPherson is 7-0 against Circle, though three of the last five meetings are seven points or fewer. McPherson girls are fifth in 5A, and Circle is sixth in 4A.

McPherson girls continue to have another outstanding season after Gatorade Player of the Year Taylor Robertson graduated. The Bullpups are 16-1, 8-0 in league, and Circle stands at 14-3, 6-1. In league play, McPherson is first in offense at 60.3 points a contest, while Circle is first in defense at 27.7 points allowed a contest. Circle set up the key game with a 36-28 win versus Augusta on Tuesday.

McPherson rolled over rival Buhler, 62-27, on Tuesday. Grace Pyle moved into the starting lineup and had 18 points. The Bullpups had just seven turnovers, while Buhler had 25.

McPherson defeated Circle, 37-30, at the Roundhouse on Jan. 4. Circle has captured five straight wins and is 9-0 at home this season. Circle has enjoyed great depth with four players between 8.3 and 9.7 points. Senior Alyson Potter averages 9.7 points a contest, and senior sharpshooter Carissa Beck delivers 8.3 points a game. Beck, who recently committed to Butler County Community College, hit a school record eight 3s against Clearwater on Feb. 5. Potter has signed with Division I Southern Illinois-Carbondale for basketball.

Beck missed four games this year, but did play in the first McPherson contest and had five points on 1 of 6 shooting.

5. Haven girls at Pratt/Hesston at Nickerson among other key matchups – The Central Kansas League girls continues have to an outstanding league race with multiple ranked teams. On Friday, Haven (15-3) is at Pratt (13-5).

Currently, Nickerson, Haven, and Halstead all have two league losses, while Hesston and Pratt have three. Haven is fourth in 3A, and Pratt is No. 10 in 4A. Hesston stands third in 3A, and Nickerson is fifth in 4A. Halstead is No. 10 in 3A with an easier road the rest of the way with home games versus Smoky Valley and Larned. Halstead lost at Pratt, 44-36, on Tuesday.

The Greenbacks have put together a solid season – including wins against TMP and Otis-Bison, squads that have a combined six losses – but did lose, 57-23, at Haven on Jan. 4. Since then, Pratt is 8-1 with only a 47-38 loss against Nickerson. Haven, led by Faith Paramore, won its own midseason tournament versus a stacked field.

Hesston (15-3) faces Nickerson (17-2) in another huge game. On Dec. 4, Nickerson won at home, 50-43, against the Swathers. However, the Swathers have captured eight straight victories, including the Hillsboro tournament championship and win versus Haven.

Hesston is 11-0 in home/neutral site games, but 4-3 on the road. Nickerson standout Morgan Stout (19 points, nine rebounds a contest) has missed the bulk of the year with a knee injury. Hesston then plays host to Pratt next Tuesday.