1. WaKeeney-Trego's Purple and Gold among many Week 2 tournaments – The second week of the basketball season is primarily the smaller school basketball tournaments. This week features multiple across the CIK area, including WaKeeney, Quinter, Russell, and Larned. Last season, WaKeeney girls beat Oakley in the finals and won its own Purple and Gold tournament for the first time. The Golden Eagles used the success to an eventual 20-win season and the program's best year in 42 winters. This year, WaKeeney, 1-0 and ranked fourth in 2A, is the top seed, and will play host to No. 8 seed La Crosse in a 6 p.m. contest Tuesday.
Oakley is on the other side of the bracket and will play in the 3 p.m. game Monday. WaKeeney's Lili Shubert and Oakley's Jordyn Lowrie are each returning first team all-Mid-Continent League players and are among the best in 2A. Trego girls beat Dighton, 60-34, in its season opener. Oakley girls picked up a quality 40-32 road win versus Norton, a 3A final four team last winter. The Plainsmen limited Norton to 33 percent shooting, 1 of 12 from 3-point range, and ended an eight-game losing streak versus the Bluejays.
Last season, Ness City boys beat Northern Valley in the final seconds to win the tournament. NC went on to capture the 2A state title, and Northern Valley finished 21-3. Both teams suffered huge graduation losses, and NV has a new coach. They are on opposite sides of the bracket in a wide-open field.
Host Trego boys are expected to be much improved and picked up a big win versus Dighton, 52-17, last Friday. NV opened with a 62-50 victory versus Weskan after trailing 10-2 in the first quarter. Seniors Fabian Loya and Alex Van Patten each had 16 points, while Van Patten delivered 11 rebounds and five assists. Senior Ivan Verela was the team's player of the game with seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Ness City, with lone senior Easton Seib, had 14 points and nine rebounds from sophomore Taylor Cable and opened with a 51-46 road win versus Macksville.
2. Larned tournament – The Gene Keady Classic tournament in Larned features multiple high-level teams. That includes Spearville girls, ranked No. 10 in 2A, the Larned boys, ranked fourth in 3A, and the St. John boys, ranked first in 1A, and the defending state runner-up. Spearville girls open with Kinsley in a 2 p.m. game Monday afternoon. Larned boys will face Macksville in a 7:15 p.m. contest Monday. St. John boys play Kiowa County at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.
If St. John wins, the likely matchup will come against Hoisington, which opened with a strong win versus Central Plains on Friday. Hoisington is without Drew Nicholson, the leading scorer each of the last two seasons, likely until January because of injury. Larned standout Mason Perez suffered an injury in football. Hoisington junior Mason Haxton earned team player of the game in the victory against Central Plains with 17 points, eight rebounds, six steals, two assists and 10 of 12 from the free throw line. SJ boys opened with a 58-38 victory versus Stafford.
Senior Marshall Woolf had 12 points against his former team. Senior Tanner Halling had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Spearville girls opened with a 69-33 win versus Ashland. Senior Ehlaina Hartman, an Emporia State commit, opened with 27 points. Junior Alissa Heskamp had 25. They combined for 20 of 33 from the field. Spearville girls, similar to Trego girls, will likely have an opportunity to move up in a relatively wide-open Class 2A with a strong performance this week.
3. Central Plains girls in Russell – Central Plains girls, currently on a state record 112 consecutive victories, will again play in the Amos Morris Classic in Russell. Like last year, CP faces a solid Smith Center squad in a 3 p.m. game Monday. Smith Center opened with a solid 57-37 victory versus Plainville.
Last year, the tournament had just six teams and had an irregular bracket where Central Plains and Phillipsburg girls had to play each other twice in the tournament. This winter, the field has eight teams covering a wide swath of Kansas. In addition to Central Plains/Smith Center, Phillipsburg faces host Russell in a 6:30 p.m. contest Monday.
On Tuesday, Beloit/St. John's-Tipton faces Ulysses, and Plainville gets Ellsworth. While CP's Emily Ryan is the biggest star, the tournament is full of top girls' players, such as Central Plains' Delaney Rugan, Rachel Lamatsch, Addison Crites, Plainville's Aubree Dewey, BSJT's Lauryn Dubbert, and Smith Center's Bree Frieling.
4. Boys take center stage at Quinter's Castle Rock – In multiple recent years, the girls have had the stronger field at the Quinter Castle Rock tournament. That's included Hoxie, Golden Plains, Ellis and Dighton. This winter, the boys' field features Hoxie and Ellis, ranked No. 5 and No. 8 in 2A, respectively. Hoxie opened with a 68-23 victory versus Victoria, and Ellis boys, down 21-19 at halftime, beat Phillipsburg, 54-40. Ellis is at host Quinter on Tuesday. Hoxie has won four in a row in the series versus Elis. The teams have matched up in mid-December 10 times since '06.
5. Key Central Kansas League matchup in Hesston tournament – In the Hesston tournament, Central Kansas League foes Nickerson and Hesston will play Tuesday. Nickerson is ranked third in 4A girls, and Hesston is ninth in 3A girls. Nickerson standout Morgan Stout has returned from injury, sisters Madison and Kieryn Ontjes are back for Nickerson. Hesston counters with senior Elise Kaiser, a Newman signing. Hesston is 18-2 against Nickerson in the last 20 meetings. However, Nickerson won 50-43 on Dec. 4 last season, and Hesston earned a 41-36 victory on Feb. 15. The tournament features Emporia and Wichita Independent and is round-robin style.