When Kip Schultz was building the Maize South boys basketball program during its infancy, the coach considered the City League vs. AV-CTL Challenge to be one of the best opportunities of the season.
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Even though Maize South was often outmatched by its City League foe in those early years, Schultz valued the chance for his team to see an entirely new brand of basketball. It was fast-paced, something that his team had to acclimate to.
The City League vs. AV-CTL Challenge kicks off its three-day schedule on Thursday at Koch Arena. Maize South (3-4) will play South (5-3) at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“For me, it’s imperative that we have this opportunity,” Schultz said. “It’s great for our kids to match up with kids that are maybe just as good or even better than them. That prepares us for late February rolling into sub-state. We learn we better bring our best shot.”
Many coaches enjoy the arrangement because they appreciate the different style that the other league brings to the table.
“What we have in the City League is a fast tempo and it’s in your face constantly,” said Northwest coach Bryan Chadwick, whose team will play Arkansas City at 5 p.m. Thursday. “I love the fact that we get to play against somebody else that is different because in sub-state we might see a team that runs some flex or a motion offense. You don’t really see a lot of that in the City League. It’s mostly just run-n-gun.”
Schultz said he feels like AV-CTL teams have closed the gap when it comes to up-tempo play compared to the City League even just three years ago.
“When I started in 2009, our league was more running through sets and walk the ball up the floor and just grind people out,” Schultz said. “Now even we’re trying to run people up and down and push the tempo and get run-outs.
“So I don’t know so much if the tempo is different, but what’s different in the City League is just the aggressiveness. It’s an entirely different feel than what we see on a regular basis.”
The challenge also has other benefits, such as the experience of playing at Koch Arena.
“For us, the way our schedule has played out the last three years is we play on Friday night and then turn around and play again on Saturday,” said Maize coach Chris Grill, whose team plays at Salina Central on Friday night and then Heights at 5 p.m. Saturday. “It gives us that experience of playing back-to-back games against quality opponents. We benefit from learning how to come back the next day and playing another game, like we would at sub-state.”
City League vs. AV-CTL Challenge
- Arkansas City girls vs. North, 3:15 p.m.; Arkansas City boys vs. Northwest, 5; Andover Central girls vs. Kapaun, 6:45; Andover Central boys vs. East, 8:30.
- Salina South girls vs. Northwest, 11:45 a.m.; Salina South boys vs. West, 1:30 p.m.; Andover girls vs. Southeast, 3:15; Andover boys vs. Carroll, 5; Maize South girls vs. West, 6:45; Maize South boys vs. South, 8:30.
- Hutchinson girls vs. East, 8:15 a.m.; Hutchinson boys vs. North, 10; Goddard girls vs. Heights, 11:45; Goddard boys vs. Southeast, 1:30 p.m.; Derby girls vs. Carroll, 3:15; Maize boys vs. Heights, 5; Maize girls vs. South, 6:45; Derby boys vs. Kapaun, 8:30.