Heights senior Perry Ellis and North junior Conner Frankamp, two of the top basketball players in City League history, will be on the floor together tonight for the final time in a regular season game.
The next time they meet will either be at the Class 6A tournament – sub-state play begins next week – or at Kansas, where Ellis has signed and Frankamp has made an oral committment.
“It’s a great night for fans to come out and watch those two young men,” North coach Gary Squires said. “They are special players. They bring so much to the game. They’re fun to watch, fun to coach.”
Heights coach Joe Auer agreed.
“They’re both great kids,” he said. “Those two guys let their play do all the talking. They don’t play to the crowd. They don’t play to their fan club in the front row. They just play for their team. And that’s it.”
Heights is 18-1, 14-1 in the City League and saw its Kansas record 62-game winning streak end Tuesday at East. North is 12-7, 10-5 and is tied for third in the league.
Ellis broke the City League’s career scoring record earlier this month. Frankamp is on pace to top Ellis’ mark sometime next season.
Heights seats 1,200; fans who don’t get in can watch the game on Cox 22.
It’s senior night, which is always emotional, but will be especially so because Ellis, who has led Heights to three straight Class 6A titles, is finishing his career as a Falcon.
And then there’s the matter of this being the last regular-season game played at Heights’ gym. A new gym, currently under construction, will open before next season.
“Our guys take a lot of pride in that court,” Auer said. “We haven’t lost a game on that floor since 2007, and they certainly want to defend their home floor.”
Patience – Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel describes some of his past teams as “ready-made” — teams that had been playing together since grade school, had developed specific roles years before they played for the Spartans .
This season’s team is different. They had to grow into their roles, and Fiegel had to be patient.
“There’s different ways to build a team, and we just had to take a different route with this one,” he said.
“I think it’s taken us longer for everyone’s role to become fully defined and everyone to know what we need from them to be as good as we can be,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. People know it’s a lot of work to get people to buy into their role.”
Collegiate got a big win over Andale last week, avenging the Spartans’ lone loss in Division IV of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League. That put the teams into a tie for first – both are 16-3 overall, 8-1 in league. If they stay tied, Fiegel is fine with it.
“We told our guys this week, it doesn’t matter if it’s championship or co-championship. The key word is the second. No one will remember, when they see the plaque, that it was a co-championship,” Fiegel said.
Living up to expectations – Conway Springs’ boys were picked to finish first in the Central Plains League for good reason – the Cardinals returned experience and talent.
But the Cardinals were hindered a bit early because the football team won the Class 3A title, delaying the practice time Conway Springs got on the basketball court. It showed early, as the Cardinals opened the season 3-3.
Conway Springs has won 12 of its last 14 games and is 15-5 overall, 8-1 in the CPL.
“I don’t want to say we expected this, but we were confident in what we had and in what we were doing,” coach James O’Brien said.
Matt Seiwert has played in more than 80 games, started in more than 60. O’Brien has coached Jordan Ast, Seiwert and Joseph Gerber since they were in fourth grade.
“They know how to play basketball,” O’Brien said.
Conway Springs has held 10 teams under 40 points in the last part of the season. Gerber and Seiwert generally take the toughest defensive assignments, but O’Brien said any one of five players are outstanding defenders.
Offensively, Travis Echelberry leads Conway with 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, while Gerber adds 7.1 rebounds and 8.8 points, Seiwert scores 6.6 per game.
Tanner Wood, Tyler Osner, Ryan Pauly and Dalton Murphy are also key contributors, giving Conway Springs enviable depth.
Wanting more – The Mulvane girls are 13-6 overall and tied atop the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail IV with Buhler with an 8-1 record. The teams play tonight.
“They’ve exceeded all of my expectations,” Mulvane coach Kendra Banzet said of her team that has won seven straight. “I wanted to win 12 games this year and we have a really good chance of winning five more. I like that our defense is causing people problems. We’ve had over 10 offensive rebounds every game.”
Madison Bish has been especially strong late in the season, and Destynee Donaldson and Elise Gerlach have been key, as well.
“If you shut one person down, I have someone else who can pick up the slack,” Banzet said. “If you two down, I still have one other person. It’s like, who do we guard tonight? Who are we going to take a chance on.”