The Salina South girls sub-state should be a slugfest.
Three of Class 5A's five ranked teams — McPherson (17-2), Newton (16-2) and Salina South (17-2) —are in the sub-state. Throw in teams like Emporia and Salina Central that have competed with some of 5A's top schools, and it is easy to understand why the coaches in the regional will be watching today's games to see where the teams fall in the seeding.
If McPherson, Newton and Salina South all finish 18-2, South would be the top seed since it has the better head-to-head record. It's possible Newton and McPherson would play in the sub-state final for a spot at state.
"Some sub-states are really weak," Newton coach Randy Jordan said. "You're going to have teams coming out of those sub-states with almost a .500 record. Then you're going to have one of us that could potentially have an 18-2 record going into sub-state and not make it."
McPherson coach Chris Strathman said the sub-state will be difficult no matter who gets the top seed.
"We are now pretty certain we will be with Newton," Strathman said. "Either side of the bracket is very tough. With a team like South you would have to play them on their floor in the finals. Newton obviously has the ability to disrupt things inside with their defense. We've seen Emporia play and they are very solid, and obviously someone like Salina Central can beat anyone because of the way they shoot the three."
Teams in the Pittsburg sub-state will be in a similar situation. St. Thomas Aquinas, Mill Valley and Bishop Miege are all among the top 10 teams in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association rankings.
Picture perfect — The Argonia girls are one win away from finishing their fourth consecutive regular season at 20-0. As impressive as the feat is, they are hardly satisfied.
What has eluded Argonia during this span is a Class 1A title. Argonia lost in overtime to South Gray in the 2010 1A title game.
Argonia has to be a favorite this season since Class 1A split into two divisions; Argonia is in 1A-Division II.
"We have a burning desire to win it all," Argonia coach Dixie Brewster said. "Getting second place last year, they can't stand it. It's not 18 or 19 or 20 wins. It doesn't really matter. They have the will to win and they want to win it all."
Ashton Stansbury, Brooke Boatright, Ali Brewster and Jaci Peetoom average double-digit scoring.
Wanting more — When Hillsboro boys coach Darrel Knoll hit 400 victories with Hillsboro's win over Kingman on Friday, it was a nice moment. Former players were there during the announcement.
"It felt special to think about the past times," said Knoll, in his 23rd season at Hillsboro. "But it's not really the main focus for me. The main focus is that we continue to play well and hopefully we give ourselves a good chance to win sub-state."
Knoll didn't set long-term goals when he became a coach, except to want to make his players better.
"What I've always told my teams is to work at being the best we can and prepare ourselves the best we can, then the winning will take care of itself if we do that," he said.
Not good at losing — Garden Plain lost to Cheney Tuesday in the game to decide the Central Plains League champion, but that doesn't mean that coach Sarah McCormick was disappointed in her team.
Garden Plain (14-5) will play its regular season finale against Medicine Lodge tonight as the CPL's second-place team with a chance to make some noise in its sub-state. There were times at the beginning of the season when McCormick didn't know if this was feasible.
"We've had a lot of really close games, but our girls always find a way to compete," McCormick said. "We might not blow teams out of the water very often, but we find a way to win. I really attribute that to the tradition that Garden Plain has, and they want to win. I think that's had a lot to do with how many games we've won this year."
Buying in — The Trinity Academy girls won two games last season, graduated their top two scorers and currently don't have a player taller than 5-foot-7.
But Trinity is 10-10 and will host a first-round sub-state game next week.
"We've never won a sub-state game," first-year coach Brett Gunderson said. "They're pretty pumped up. It shows that they're buying in and it shows the hard work.... They've given everything they've got coming off a two-win season."