1. Wichita Heights vs. Bishop Carroll girls headlines massive slate Tuesday; Holy War is Friday – Tuesday features arguably the best regular season date of the winter with more than a half dozen high-profile matchups across the state, including several in the CIK area. Wichita Heights is ranked No. 4 in 6A girls as of the Dec. 23 poll, the latest rankings as of Jan. 13. Bishop Carroll is fourth in 5A girls.
On the boys’ side, BC is first in 5A, while Heights is not ranked but is a longtime power under coach Joe Auer. Carroll girls are 4-1 in the last five meetings, though the teams split the contests last season. Heights won 45-35 on Jan. 8, and Carroll earned a 58-47 victory on Feb. 19.
Heights is 7-0 with an average margin of 65-26. The Falcons, which finished 20-3 last season, returned all five starters, notably senior Taylor Jameson, junior Laniah Randle and sophomore Zyanna Walker. Jameson has signed with George Mason. Heights is first in 6A defense and second in 6A offense.
Carroll, with an average margin of 43-30, is 6-1 with only a 37-33 loss to Wichita West on Jan. 3. As well, Carroll faces Kapaun-Mt. Carmel in the Holy War on Friday. Heights boys are 3-4 with three overtime games (1-2 record). Carroll boys are 6-0, and have beaten KMC six straight times. Kapaun is fifth in 5A boys. KMC girls, which split with Carroll last year, features standout post Ella Anciaux.
2. Sterling vs. Central Plains girls – Sterling is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and the defending state runner-up to Garden Plain. Central Plains is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. Central Plains is 7-0 and on a 118-game winning streak, the longest run in state history. The Black Bears are 6-0, including a 46-43 overtime victory against Cheney. The Cardinals are ranked fourth in 4A.
Central Plains has its elite talent with seniors Emily Ryan, Delaney Rugan, Addison Crites and Rachel Lamatsch, and sophomore Kassidy Nixon. Ryan has signed with Iowa State basketball, Crites with Barton County volleyball, and CP coach Pat Stiles has called Nixon the fastest player he has ever coached.
Sterling has allowed 36.5 points per game, CP has permitted 21.9 points a contest. Both teams are known for its fast pace. Sterling has senior point Kinzie Comley and sophomore Kali Briar. Last year, CP defeated Sterling, 69-34, the first matchup for the programs since ’13. The Sterling boys are 4-2 with a quality win versus Belle Plaine and losses to Berean Academy and Haven, both undefeated squads.
3. Garden Plain vs. Cheney girls – A huge rivalry matchup in the Central Plains League versus Garden Plain, ranked second in 2A. GP, a two-time defending champion, is 7-0. Cheney is 7-1. GP had to replace its top-three scorers from last season, and enjoyed nice improvements from junior Madysen Zoglman, senior Kennedy Horacek and sophomore Brooke Hammond. Zoglman has 12.6 points per game, Horacek is at 11.4 points a game, and Hammond, a state champion track sprinter, is 8.3 points and 3.6 steals a contest.
Cheney features Kylee Scheer, the reigning 3A Player of the Year, and has all but six of its points from non-seniors. Scheer collects 23.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals a contest. These teams are virtually identical offensively - Cheney is at .98 points per possession, GP is at .97. GP is at 36 percent offensive rebounding rate, Cheney 32 percent.
Cheney has allowed .55 points per possession, GP is at .66. Garden Plain is 4-1 in the last five meetings. Cheney won 47-32 on Jan. 8, and GP earned a 25-24 victory a month later.
4. WaKeeney, Augusta boys, Ellinwood boys look to end long losing series streaks – In Mid-Continent League play, TMP travels to WaKeeney. TMP girls had its 37-game regular season conference winning streak snapped with a road loss to Ellis last Tuesday and is 3-4.
Trego girls are 7-0 and ranked fourth in 2A. Trego girls are 0-5 versus TMP since ’08, including a 44-43 loss on last-second three-pointer last winter. Trego boys are 5-2, and TMP boys are 6-1. Trego boys have lost six in a row to TMP since ’08.
Augusta boys (5-1) are ranked No. 4 in 4A, and McPherson (4-3) stand tenth in 5A, and the teams match up in ACVTL III play. However, all three of McPherson’s losses have come versus teams with perfect records.
Augusta is 0-9 versus McPherson since ’15. In the Central Prairie League, Ellinwood, 7-1 and enjoying its best start in years, is at St. John (6-2). SJ is ranked sixth in 1A. St. John is 13-0 versus the Eagles since ’07.
5. Eisenhower girls look to continue success with key week – Goddard-Eisenhower, in the first year under coach Matt Brumley, has already enjoyed a big turnaround. Eisenhower is 8-13, 8-14, 1-21, 5-16 and 7-11 in the last five years.
This season, the Tigers are 5-1, including a 50-46 win at rival Goddard last Friday behind a big game from junior Kennedy Nicholson. It marked the first time Eisenhower had won at rival Goddard in school history. G-E had lost 11 in a row versus Goddard.
This week, Eisenhower has two home games: Maize South on Tuesday, and Maize on Friday. Maize South is ranked seventh in 5A. Eisenhower has lost two straight and seven of its last eight versus the Mavericks. Eisenhower is 0-10 versus Maize – and has never beaten the Eagles in school annals.