1. Strathman recovering – While Week 2 of the basketball season is widely known for its early season tournaments, the biggest news came from late last week. Longtime McPherson girls’ basketball coach Chris Strathman, who led the Bullpups to a Class 4A, Division I title last year, had surgery last Thursday to receive a cancerous tumor in his colon. McPherson High School tweeted that the mass was successfully removed and no new additional cancer was found. Strathman, who is not expected to coach this semester, and his family watched the live stream of the season-opening 55-44 win versus Andover.
McPherson graduated Taylor Robertson, the Gatorade Player of the Year, and had four players between 10 and 12 points. Strathman is 259-52 in his career. He has coached at McPherson for 24 seasons, including the last 14 as head coach. The Bullpups play host to Andover Central on Wednesday.
2. City League starting – Wichita Southeast is at rival Wichita East in a key City League boys’ matchup. Southeast is ranked fifth in 6A, and East is sixth. Southeast picked up standout sophomore Jackie Johnson, who transferred from Wichita North. Johnson replaces prolific scorer Israel Barnes, currently at Division I Weber State. Johnson averaged 22.1 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman. SE is expected to have eight seniors.
3. Amos Morris girls side – The Amos Morris tournament in Russell is stacked with great teams. Central Plains’ boys and girls are each ranked first in 1A. CP girls have won five straight state titles and have one loss since the start of ’13-14.
The CP boys had a perfect run through 2A last winter. On the girls’ side, Central Plains gets a key matchup with Smith Center, ranked fourth in 2A, in the semifinals Thursday. CP boys could face Phillipsburg, 3A state runner-up and ranked eighth, in the finals. Plainville and standout junior point guard Aubree Dewey (30 points in the season opener) are also in the tournament. The Russell girls are solid after a 19-4 year last winter.
4. Purple and Gold in WaKeeney – The WaKeeney tournament features multiple standout players. Ness City, fourth in 2A boys, has senior point guard John Pfannenstiel, who averaged 20 points a game. Almena-Northern Valley boys are fifth in 1A after it won 1A, Division II last season.
NV returns all but one player, including classification player of the year Riley Sides. NV girls have Paige Baird back. Sides averaged 17.4 points a game last season, and Baird was at 21.3. He has 1,114 career points, and Baird has 1,116 entering this winter.
5. Castle Rock Classic in Quinter – The longtime Castle Rock tournament is one of several other key early-season tournaments. Hoxie headlines the field with a girls’ squad that is ranked sixth in 2A, and a boys’ team that stands fifth. Hoxie point guard Addi Campbell is a top player. Quinter girls took big graduation losses from a team that won 1A, Division II state title. Quinter boys return Conner Havlas, who averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds last year… The Osborne tournament includes Thunder Ridge, ranked No. 6 in 1A on the girls’ side …. The Clarion Classic is hosted by Garden City/Holcomb/Scott City, and Cimarron hosts their tournament as well this week.