State basketball is set to begin Wednesday and Thursday across all six classes in Kansas before Champions are crowned Saturday. Today we preview what's to come in the girls state tournament.
Class 6A – Derby (21-0) is the defending state champion, while Liberal is the top seed at 22-0. The Redskins have enjoyed their best record since the ‘70s after a third-place finish in Class 5A last year. Derby has its Division I standouts with post Kennedy Brown and point guard Tor’e Alford but have received great contributions from Sydney Nilles and Aliyah Myers. Liberal has its duo of post Katie Horyna and post Machia Mullens, who each average around 15 points a game. Washburn Rural (20-2) has Carly Bachelor, a Creighton signee, and Olathe Northwest features Sarah Beth Gueldner, who averages more than 20 points a game and has signed with Drake.
Class 5A – It’s very possible the top three teams are in the top half of the bracket with McPherson (20-1), Aquinas (17-4) and Maize South (17-5). Maize South was 22-0 but had to forfeit five games due to the well-publicized transfer issue regarding Zayda Perez, who is eligible to play at state. McPherson, the defending 4A-I titlist, is playing extra well right now and has only lost to Derby. The Bullpups rolled through a quality Carroll team in the sub-state finale and have plenty of depth and talent, led by sophomore Grace Pyle. Aquinas is the defending 5A state champion, has made state 25 straight years and has lost in the first round just once since ‘08. Goddard (20-2) has only lost to Maize South and receive 15 points a game from Kade Hackerott. Heights narrowly edged Maize, 45-44, in the sub-state title and have ranked No. 1 in 5A West in scoring offense much of the year.
Class 4A – Bishop Miege, with four Division I talents, is the heavy favorite, and KC Piper is also undefeated. Ulysses (18-4) is at state for the first time in 37 years and gets one-loss Baldwin, the defending 4A-II champion and the state’s best 3-point shooting team. Abilene (20-2) has received impressive seasons from Sydney Burton and Hannah Willey, who have combined for 34 points a contest. Nickerson (19-3) has played well without post Morgan Stout (knee) and has a balanced group with Alex Altum, along with Madison and Kieryn Ontjes. Abilene/Nickerson should be one of the top first-round matchups for any tournament. Circle (17-4) is back at state for the third straight year but again draws Miege. Circle has shot the 3 very well the last several seasons but defense is a top strength this winter.
Class 3A – Cheney (21-2), Norton (21-2) and Eureka (20-3) are the top-three seeds. Cheney lost to Haven in the Haven tournament, and then defeated host Haven in sub-state. Sophomore Kylee Scheer has averaged 17 points a game. Norton is at state for the first time since ‘08, and has 15 points a game from Taryn Kuhn. The Hauser sisters – Tessa and Hadley – combine for 21 points and 16 rebounds a contest. Eureka is at state for the first time in school history under second-year coach Shelly Hoyt. She led Hoxie to 107 straight victories before she moved south. Scott City (17-6) will face Norton in the first round and is at state for a third consecutive season.
Class 2A – A very close field with multiple contenders, including top-seed Wabaunsee (20-3), No. 2 WaKeeney-Trego (19-3) and No. 4 Garden Plain (18-4). GP beat Wabaunsee for 2A volleyball crown and many of the top players on both teams are the key basketball players. Pace could very well be key. Trego has squelched multiple opponents with its slower style and defenss that has allowed just 33.3 points a game. GP has just 52 possessions a contest but is efficient with .92 points per possession. Stanton County (17-6) has no seniors, has enjoyed a big turnaround under coach Trevor Siebert and is at state for the first time since ’99. SC, led by 11.4 points per game from Rylie Cook, draws Trego in a key first round game.
Class 1A – Central Plains (25-0) is the favorite to win its record sixth straight state title. On Saturday, CP set the state record with its 108th consecutive victory. Junior point guard Emily Ryan has more than 2,000 career points and had excellent supporting cast with Delaney Rugan, Avery Hurley, Rachel Lamatsch and Addison Crites for coach Pat Stiles. Class 1A has had a banner year with many top teams and the state tournament is full of stars. Rural Vista (24-0) has four-year starter Lauren Campuzano. South Central point guard Bri Rutherford is over 1,700 career points, and Hanover’s Macy Doebele has cleared 1,500 career points. Olpe coach Jesse Nelson won his state record 900th game in the sub-state title, and senior Emma Miller is an elite talent. Hanover (22-3) faces Olpe (23-0) in a marquee first-round game. Hanover is the two-time defending 1A-I state champions.