1. Wichita Heights boys, girls look to move closer to City League title – Heights boys have a rematch with Wichita East (8-7) on Tuesday.
Earlier this season, Heights defeated East, 66-58. Heights (13-2) gets East at home Tuesday and then South on Friday in the final home regular season games of the winter.
Heights finishes with at Southeast, at North and then at Carroll on Feb. 19. Southeast is 13-2, 11-1 after a win against Carroll, while Heights is 10-1 in league play.
Carroll is 11-5, 8-4, and East is 7-5 in league. Junior Jaxon Pillich averages 14.3 points a contest, the only player above double figures for the Falcons.
Against East, Heights will likely have a big edge in rebounding, but shoots just 29 percent from beyond the arc with 3.7 made treys a game. East has three players who score at least 10.1 points a contest, led by 12.3 from senior Jaylen Randle. East averages 33 percent from long range and 7.9 treys a game.
Heights girls (11-2) have a significant lead on the girls’ side and can effectively clinch the league with a win against South (11-5, 9-3) on Friday. Heights defeated South, 61-47, on Dec. 18. Heights girls are No. 4 in 5A, and Heights boys are third in 5A.
2. Hoxie at Phillipsburg on Tuesday – For the fourth straight season, Hoxie and Phillipsburg match up in a key late season non-conference matchup. The teams have been annual state contenders with Hoxie girls, Phillipsburg boys and Hoxie boys having at least one final four team in the last four seasons. Phillipsburg boys have won the last two contests, 68-45 and 66-55, and enter this week 13-2. Hoxie boys are 13-1.
Phillipsburg is third in 3A, and Hoxie is second in 2A.
Phillipsburg senior Trey Sides has put up bigger numbers than his 3A Player of the Year season last fall. He has 16.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.7 assists a contest.
The Hoxie girls are 9-5, but were 1-3 in its last four games entering last Friday and have fallen out of the state rankings. Phillipsburg girls won just six combined games the last two years but are 9-6 this winter and have played many close games.
The Panthers have victories by one, two, seven and three points and losses by eight, five and two points – the latter two against Norton and WaKeeney-Trego, which have a combined four losses this year. Hoxie girls are 3-0 against Phillipsburg with all victories by at least 28 points, but this meeting should be much closer.
3. Key Friday games in Hays – The Mid-Continent League girls’ and boys’ titles, along with the Western Athletic Conference girls’ crown will effectively be on the line Friday. TMP plays host to Phillipsburg, and Hays High plays host to Liberal. At TMP, Phillipsburg boys defeated the Monarchs in the MCL midseason league tournament and won the regular season crown last winter. Phillipsburg remains perfect in league play, while TMP boys have two league losses at Ellis and at Smith Center.
However, the Monarch boys have never lost a MCL regular season home game. In the girls’ contest, TMP (11-4, 6-0 MCL) needs to win two of the final three conference games to clinch the title.
Phillipsburg is one of the few teams to defeat the Monarch girls in recent years, most notably a 48-45 last-second win on Feb. 13, 2015 at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. TMP, despite three ranked wins at home in 2019, remains unranked in 3A’s latest poll Monday.
Across town, Liberal girls (13-0, No. 2 in 6A) last lost a regular season game at Hays High last season, 48-41, on Jan. 5. Hays High, still ranked No. 10 in 5A, is 10-4 with seven straight home victories. Both Liberal and Hays High have key WAC games earlier this week.
HHS plays host to rival Great Bend on Tuesday, and Liberal is home versus Dodge City on Thursday. Liberal girls continue to receive big seasons from juniors Katie Horyna and Machia Mullens, who combine for 30.3 points and 10.6 rebounds a contest. Liberal defeated Hays High, 61-42, on Jan. 4, but the game was closer than the final score.
4. Cunningham at Central Christian girls on Friday; CC looks to halt another losing streak – The 1A girls Coldwater-South Central regional is loaded with top teams. South Central leads at 15-2, followed by Cunningham at 14-2, South Barber at 12-4, Bucklin at 12-5, Attica at 11-5 and Kiowa County at 11-7.
In the 1A Little River Regional, Central Christian stands at 15-1 and earned a nice win against South Barber last Friday. CC is four games ahead of Little River for first place in the regional. CC moved into the rankings for the first time at No. 10 this week. Both the Cougars and Cunningham reached the Class 1A, Division II state tournament last winter.
Cunningham has won the last six in the series, but CC has broken losing streaks of at least three contests against Berean Academy and South Barber since Jan. 26.
5. What to expect from Maize South and WaKeeney Trego girls? – The CIK area had two No. 1-ranked teams this week, a rarity with just a few weeks left in the season. Generally, there is little movement among the No. 1 squads.
As expected, Maize South bumped to No. 1 in 5A after a huge week with wins against three ranked teams: Mill Valley, Goddard and rival Maize. Goddard is second in 5A and dropped a spot. Maize fell to eighth.
Maize South is the only undefeated team in 5A at 14-0 and gets at Valley Center on Tuesday and versus Andover on Friday. While both teams have struggled, Andover is 6-1 in its last seven contests. Senior Shanti Henry and junior Emma Cunningham have paced Andover. Maize South is 7-1 in the last eight in the series.
This year, Class 2A girls was expected to see plenty of movement and has done so. WaKeeney, which was unranked in the preseason, bumped two spots this week. The 12-2 Golden Eagles are part of a close classification where every team has lost at least twice. Trego, paced by sophomore Lili Shubert and junior Libby Frost, have lost two games by a combined four points. This week, the Golden Eagles were scheduled to play three games: at Ness City on Monday, versus Stockton on Tuesday and versus Quinter on Thursday.