1.Derby/Maize on Tuesday – Both Derby teams, especially the girls, earned high-profile wins versus McPherson last Friday. On Tuesday, the Panthers play host to Maize in another marquee matchup. Four Division I signees will play: Derby’s Kennedy Brown and Tor’e Alford and Maize’s Halie Jones for the girls, and Maize’s Caleb Grill for the boys.
Derby has won 23 straight and is ranked first in Class 6A. Derby boys moved to tenth in 6A this week. Maize boys stand fourth, and the Eagle girls are third. For Derby, Brown averages 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, three steals and three blocks a contest. Junior Sydney Nilles has 11.5 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals a game. Derby had lockdown defense versus McPherson and has captured three straight in the series with the Eagle girls and has permitted just 37.3 points a game in those contests.
Maize boys (3-0) have rolled behind a team that has averaged 77.3 points a contest. Grill has averaged 20.3 points a contest but has plenty of help. Senior Brandle Easter has delivered 20 points a game, and senior Devon Koehn has 17.3 points a contest. Koehn averaged 7.3 points a game last year, while Easter put up 11.1 per. Derby defeated Maize, 72-63, last year and is 4-1 in the last five matchups. Derby (1-1) has no player in double figures with seniors Josh Osburn and Clayton Hood each averaged 9.5 points a game.
2. St. John boys in for tests – St. John boys are 4-0 this year and captured the Larned tournament last week. The Tigers have moved up to No. 2 in 1A after third last week. SJ gets rival Central Plains on the road on Tuesday. Both CP girls and boys are No. 1 in 1A, and are both defending undefeated 2A titlists.
Central Plains/St. John – especially on the boys’ side – has been one of the state’s top rivalries the last several years. On Friday, St. John plays host to 3A traditional power Hesston. This marks the first time the squads have matched up since at least ’05-06. Junior Tanner Halling has averaged 23.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.8 blocks, and Mason Osborne is at 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
3. Wichita Heights boys to No. 1 – Heights is ranked first in 5A boys after Carroll lost in the final second to Wichita Southeast. Heights (3-0) was previously second in 5A. Heights won at West, 47-46, in the season opener, and then defeated Kapaun, 40-26, and at Northwest, 71-31. Heights has the No. 1 scoring defense in the City League and gets North at home on Friday and at South next Tuesday. Senior Izaiah Hale leads with 11 points a game. Heights normally rebounds very well, despite a collective 6 of 35 from long range, has collected 38.5 percent of available offensive rebounds, a high rate.
4. Key Wheat State League game – Rural Vista girls are a collective 38-11 since the start of the 2016-17 season and have reached the state tournament the last two years. However, RV has not won the Wheat State League title either year with a second and third place finish. The Heat (4-0) bring everyone back this winter and stand eighth in 1A.
This Friday, RV is at Little River and then is at Solomon next Tuesday in contests that could decide the WSL title. LR is 3-1 with junior Emma McBride at 12 points and five rebounds. Last season, RV lost to LR at home, 43-37.
5. More milestones– Last week was milestone week as multiple players – starting Inman’s Payton Froese and Rural Vista’s Lauren Campuzano – cleared 1,000 career points. Then, Ness City’s John Pfannenstiel went over 1,000 in a last-second final win against Northern Valley. Additionally, Otis-Bison’s Maitland Wiltse went over 1,000 career points for the Cougars. He has helped O-B reach the state tournament the last two years.
Emily Ryan, Central Plains’ elite junior point guard, has now cleared 1,500 points. Ryan scored 568 points as a freshman, 898 as a sophomore and has 93 points this year. Ryan is at 23.3 points, nine assists, 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 steals. Last year, Ryan led the state with 34.5 points and also had 6.8 assists and six steals.