1. Central Plains girls look for history – The Oiler girls, led by junior Emily Ryan, have captured 106 straight wins after a 62-32 win against Otis-Bison in Sunday’s Class 1A Regional final at Sylvan-Lucas. Like many of the 1A regional finals, the game was shifted from Saturday to Sunday because of the severe weather.
Central Plains is one away from the all-time consecutive wins record of 107 set by Hoxie. The Oiler boys defeated Sylvan-Lucas, 59-17, and have posted back-to-back perfect seasons.
The Central Plains teams will look for its second straight undefeated year, a feat that has never been accomplished by the same school in back-to-back winters in state history. The Oilers highlight the 1A sub-states that start this week at various sites, most notably Russell, WaKeeney, Dodge City and Pratt.
While CP rolled again, the 1A regionals brought multiple upsets. All teams that reached a regional final are then seeded for sub-state. Class 1A is back to one class for the first time since 2010 after it was split into Division I and Division II.
In Grainfield, the No. 4 seeded Quinter girls defeated top-seeded Weskan and then No. 2 seed Dighton, 45-40, in the regional championship game. Quinter won the 1A, Division II title last year and then suffered huge graduation losses. The 11-12 Bulldogs have received breakout seasons from seniors Evie Gruenbacher and Andrea Charles, who have each averaged around 10 points a game.
Ingalls, the third seed at the Jetmore regional, defeated Spearville, 56-42, moved to 16-7 and have won five in a row. The Bulldogs lost to Spearville, 44-26, on Feb. 8, though the Lancers have dealt with recent injuries. Senior Ashlyn Cure is one of state’s best players with more than 1,150 career points, including 18.5 this year.
Other winners – all top seeds and squads that all have four or fewer losses – included undefeated Golden Plains, Thunder Ridge, Coldwater-South Central, Hutchinson Central Christian and Montezuma-South Gray. South Central senior point guard Bri Rutherford has exceeded 1,770 career points.
The boys 1A regional champions featured top-seeds Wallace County, Osborne, Almena-Northern Valley, Central Plains, Macksville, St. John, South Gray and No. 2 seed Attica. St. John, which has lost just four times and three to Central Plains, is a darkhorse to make a deep run behind point guard Mason Osborne and post Tanner Halling.
2.Who leads in Class 5A West? – Class 5A West, for both the boys and girls, have been one of leading storylines throughout the season. For girls’ side, Maize South is the No. 1 seed and the lone undefeated in 5A girls with a 20-0 mark.
Maize South swept Goddard for the Lions’ only two losses, including a last-second win Friday. Maize South will likely have resistance from either Andover Central (12-7) or Salina Central (10-9) in Sub-State No. 1.
Sub-State No. 2 features Goddard (18-2), along with No. 10 Kapaun (10-10) and No. 7 Hays High (13-7). Goddard has enjoyed a much improved offense, while Kapaun has standout 6-foot-4 sophomore Ella Anciaux.
Hays High has experience and depth that few teams can match with senior point guard Kallie Leiker (3.9 assists per contest, one of the state’s leading marks) and senior Savannah Schneider (14.2 points per game). Senior Kade Hackerott leads Goddard with 15.6 points and 7.9 points per contest. Goddard went 11-10 last year.
In comparing Goddard to Hays High, the Lions lead in virtually every major category. Goddard scores 1.00 points per possession in a much improved offense from last winter and permit just .593 points per possession. The Lions turn the ball over just 18 percent of the time.
Hays High is at .81 points per possession and allows .71 points per possession with turnovers on 26 percent of possessions. However, HHS averages 64 possessions a game, well faster than Goddard’s 54.
In Sub-State 3, McPherson girls (18-1 at time of seeding) have had a great season with only a loss to Derby. The Bullpups are the defending 4A-I champions and should get Bishop Carroll (14-6) in the finals.
Sub-State 4 could feature a terrific matchup between Wichita Heights (18-2) and Maize (17-3). Heights cruised to the City League title. Maize has its accomplished seniors with Halie Jones and Alexis Cauthon, who have both signed to play college basketball. Maize and Heights have only matched up once since 2013, a 51-49 Heights win in Jan. 2018. This year, both have lost against Derby, including twice for Maize. Heights is first by a sizable margin in 5A West points per game at 65.
3. Maize boys lead 5A West, look for matchup with Arkansas City – Class 5A West is highlighted by Sub-State 1 where top-ranked Maize (20-0) will likely see No. 8 Arkansas City (12-6). The game has arguably the state’s two best players in Maize’s Caleb Grill and AC’s Cevin Clark. Last year, Maize took an upset loss to Salina Central in sub-state.
Maize has enjoyed a special season with two wins by one point, another by two and one by four. Grill has averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Maize averages 1.10 points per possession, an elite rate, and allows .79 points per possession. However, the Eagles attempt 13 treys a game, while Arkansas City is around 17, so expect AC to shoot plenty of treys. Clark has averaged 33 points a game.
Sub State 2 is headlined by Andover Central (17-2) and Maize South (14-5). Sub-State 3 has Bishop Carroll (15-5) and McPherson (14-5). Carroll has enjoyed a prolific offensive season, and like St. John, could make a deep run in 5A as an under the radar squad. The Golden Eagles average 1.08 points per possession and turn the ball over just 18.5 percent of the time, both outstanding rates.
Sub-State 4 has Wichita Heights (15-5), which is known for its offensive rebounding.
4.Who will win the Meade 2A boys’ sub-state? – Perhaps no sub-state has more intrigue than the Class 2A boys’ sub-state at Meade. At the time of seeding, Pratt-Skyline was 19-1, Stanton County stood second at 18-2, while Ness City was third at 15-4, Syracuse is fourth at 14-6 and Lakin fifth at 12-8.
In the final rankings, Ness City stood fourth, Skyline sixth and Stanton County seventh. Those top-three teams didn’t play each other throughout the season. The sub-state features star players from several teams. Ness City is considered the slight favorite, mainly because of its harder schedule. The Eagles are ranked No. 57 in the all-class statistical-based MaxPreps rankings, while Stanton County is No. 64 and Pratt Skyline stands at No. 118.
Ness City has a strength of schedule rating of 2.3 and is one of two teams to defeat 1A power Almena-Northern Valley this season. Stanton County has a SOS rating of -2.3, while Skyline is at -9.9. Skyline, though, recently broke the state record for most 3-pointers made in a single game.
Stanton County, which reached the state tournament last year, has Creed Puyear, who averages 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a contest. He cleared 1,000 career points this year. Ness City features senior point guard John Pfannenstiel, who went over 1,000 in the Dec. win against Northern Valley. He averages 23.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists a contest. Lakin has Henry Chou at 18.3 points per game.
While Skyline’s season statistics are not readily available, Ness City and Stanton County have distinct strengths. Ness City averages .99 points per possession and permits just .77. SC has .98 points per possession and allows just .68. Overall, NC has distinct advantages in turnover margin (just 16 percent) and free throws per game (16.5 to 11.7). However, while Ness City has plenty of height inside with Landon Reinhardt and Andres Rios, SC has been a really strong offensive rebounding team, collecting 33.5 percent of misses. Ness is at 27.1.
5. Other key sub-states – The Class 3A girls’ sub-state at Haven is loaded with Cheney (17-2), Hesston (16-3), Haven (16-3) and Halstead (16-4), the latter three that battled it out throughout the Central Kansas League. Hesston has won nine straight since a loss to Halstead on Jan. 10. … The Class 3A Hoisington girls’ sub-state has Norton (18-2), Russell (16-4) and TMP (15-5). TMP is the only Kansas team to beat Norton this year, but four of the Monarchs’ losses have come in road/neutral sites. … In Class 6A boys Sub State 3, Wichita Southeast (17-3) could see Haysville Campus (16-4) in a matchup of top-seven teams. … In 4A Girls Sub-State 2, Nickerson is 16-3, and also has Rose Hill (12-6) and Augusta (11-8), while Sub-State 3 has Circle (15-4), Pratt (13-6) and Andale (10-8).