1.Wichita Heights/South girls key in City League game – On Tuesday, Wichita Heights travels to Wichita South (3-2) in a key City League matchup.
South, the dominant team in the City League and Class 6A since ’12-13, lost coach Antwain Scales, who became the head girls’ coach at Colby Community College. Coach David Clark has helped South capture three straight victories after season-opening losses at East (63-45) and versus Carroll (52-39).
Heights rolled through its first three opponents with wins against West (72-34), Kapaun (68-30) and Northwest (70-59). The teams have split the last 22 meetings, though it’s severely tilted in one team’s favor. Heights won eight in a row and South has captured the last 10.
Bishop Carroll (4-0) faces Wichita West on Tuesday at home. In the latest rankings Tuesday, Carroll is second in 5A and Heights stands seventh.
2. Phillipsburg’s Sides gets offer, big ranked matchup at Beloit – Phillipsburg senior Trey Sides, a four-year starter at quarterback and point guard, enjoyed a banner week with a Shrine Bowl invitation and a basketball offer from Division I Jacksonville (Fla.) University.
Jacksonville assistant coach Chad Eshbaugh, a Topeka native, and former head coach at Cloud County Community College, played a significant role in the offer. Eshbaugh came to watch Sides play in the Russell tournament earlier this month.
Sides had an offer from NAIA Bethel College and had received lots of interest from other schools, but the offer represented a breakthrough from a larger school.
The Panthers, ranked No. 10 in 3A, are 4-1 with just a loss in the Russell championship to Central Plains. Phillipsburg is at Beloit (5-0, No. 8 3A) on Tuesday in a key non-league contest.
The Panthers have dropped just two regular season games in the last two seasons, both to Central Plains. Beloit averages 65 points a contest and has four players in double figures, including junior Vincent Palen.
Phillipsburg delivers 51 points a contest, including 16.2 points from Trey and 13.8 points a game from his sophomore brother, Ty. They also combine for 7.8 rebounds, 6.4 steals and six assists a game. Trey has shot 40 percent from 3-point range with 12 made treys.
3. Southern Plains Iroquois headlined by South Gray/South Central girls matchup – The SPIAA, especially on the girls’ side, enjoyed a nice season last year and was expected to have a big winter in 2018-19 with many of the top players returning.
So far, the girls’ teams have enjoyed a banner first month. Spearville is 6-0, 3-0 in league and ranks fourth in 1A.
Coldwater-South Central stands at 5-1, 3-0 and is sixth in 1A. Bucklin is 5-1, 3-0.
Ingalls is 5-1, 1-1. South Gray is 4-2, 1-2, but won the Cimarron tournament against Meade, currently ranked No. 10 in 2A. Kiowa County, a 20-win squad last winter, is 3-3, 0-2.
On Tuesday, South Central, led by standout point guard Bri Rutherford, travels to South Gray. SC’s only loss came to an Oklahoma team this season. Coach Tim Rietzke is in his 41st year coaching basketball in Coldwater.
The T-Wolves have not fallen to a Kansas team in the regular season since a 52-50 overtime home defeat to Kiowa County on Dec. 13, 2016. SC averages a league-best 59 points a game behind 26 points, six rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.5 assists per contest from Rutherford.
Senior Jordyn Jellison tallies 10.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.
In its last three contests, SG defeated Meade 42-36 in overtime, easily handled Ingalls, 70-38, and then lost to Spearville, in overtime, 58-49. Hannah Askew, a top returning player, tallies 13 points and 8.2 rebounds a contest.
4. Colby girls try for another upset – Colby has longtime coach Tom Stephens, who just finished his 30th year of coaching and returned to Colby after a stint at Stockton. Stephens’ daughter, Jill, is one of the Eagles’ top players. Colby, a 3A school, is 4-2 this winter.
Last Tuesday, Colby faced a double-digit second half deficit against a solid Class 5A Hays High squad, made a big comeback and fell 47-44. Colby has lost six in a row to Hays, but this the first game in the series within 10 points since Dec. 2015.
On Friday, Colby delivered a big upset in a 60-48 victory at Ulysses in GWAC play. Ulysses was ranked No. 6 in 4A and dropped to ninth in this week’s poll. Colby had been 1-3 in the last four meetings against the Tigers.
On Tuesday, Colby plays host to rival Hoxie, ranked fourth in 2A. Hoxie, led by point guard Addi Campbell, captured the Quinter Castle Rock Classic tournament. Colby has dropped four straight to Hoxie, including a 38-34 loss last season. Hoxie has not lost to Colby since Jan. 15, 2010.
5. St. John looks to continue success against Otis-Bison – On Thursday, St. John travels to Otis-Bison. While Central Plains headlines the CPL girls’ side, this game could indicate the second-best team in the league.
Otis-Bison girls are 5-0, and SJ girls is 2-4, though against a brutal schedule. SJ, which faces Kinsley on Tuesday at home, has lost to Spearville, Kiowa County, Central Plains and Hesston, all competitive games. Spearville and CP are undefeated and Hesston has just one loss.
On the boys’ side, Otis-Bison stands at 3-1, while St. John is 4-2 with losses to unbeaten Central Plains and one-loss Hesston. O-B first travels to Stafford on Tuesday.
The boys should feature multiple outstanding players, especially inside with Otis-Bison’s Maitland Wiltse and St. John’s Tanner Halling.
Wiltse went over 1,000 career points earlier this season, and Halling averages 21 points and 9.5 rebounds a contest. Mason Osborne has been strong for SJ as well with 14.2 points, five rebounds and 3.8 assists a contest.
SJ boys have captured seven straight in the series. O-B girls have posts Maddie Wiltse and Cora Anderson. SJ girls, with seniors Shayla Garcia, Jackie Rios and Paige Doran, has dominated the series with nine straight wins since 2008, including a 36-35 victory last year.