The success of the City League-AV-CTL basketball challenge last week at Koch Arena has City League athletic director J Means looking for ways to improve it in the future.
But right now, it’s OK to bask in the three-day challenge that brought in an estimated 8,000-10,000 fans for 18 games.
“I’d say our crowds were, in total, overall the same as last year,” Means said of the challenge, in its second year. “We feel the crowds that came was more even, while last year, the crowd was for one game.”
That one game involved North and then-senior Conner Frankamp, who is now at Kansas.
The crowds were more even because the matchups were better. Means and Marc Haught, the Maize district athletic director, put together a schedule that pitted similar teams based on the season’s first two weeks.
Fans got to see South play Maize girls in what could be a matchup at March’s Class 6A tournament. Southeast boys played then-unbeaten Maize, while the Heights boys played then-unbeaten Maize South.
The City League won the boys challenge 7-2, while the AV-CTL girls won 5-4.
Because of sponsorship, each of the 18 schools will take home an estimated $1,000.
“It is very frustrating,” said Andover coach Chad Wilmott, whose team is 2-5. “But I’m proud of our guys. They’re not giving up. We’ve had our ups and downs, our disagreements, but we’re still a good team right now.”
Andover’s losses are to Maize South (56-54, ranked No. 7 in 5A), Maize (65-63), Andover Central (49-47, last-second shot), North (63-55 in overtime) and Eisenhower (73-70, ranked No. 2 in 5A).
The Trojans would be even better, according to Wilmott, if they cut down on turnovers.
“Until we start valuing every possession, we’re going to continue to not win the close games,” he said. “We had 16 first-half turnovers against the No. 2 team in the state (Eisenhower). You’re not going to win the game.We’re averaging 19 turnovers a games in the games we have lost. There you go. Right there.”
Allyssa Kirkham, Circle’s best guard, tore an Achilles tendon in the season’s third game and is likely out for another few weeks. And several players have missed due to the flu.
Despite the struggles, Circle is 5-1, winning four games by a combined 19 points, including a seven-point win over Andale on Tuesday. The Thunderbirds usually have a different scorer each game, but have gotten strong play from Katie Frankenbery, Caylie Kifer and Leah Metzger.
“We’re really scrambling right now,” Circle coach Brian Henry said. “We thought we had a pretty solid team.… and game in and game out, we’ve had to pull people to do the things they may not be comfortable doing. But they’ve stepped up and had the grit. It’s been our aggressive defensive play in transition that has kept us in games.”
Circle’s lone loss was by three points to Clearwater, which led 20-1 in the first quarter.
“Every game has been a close game,” Henry said. “A win against a quality Andale team is always good.”
“We’ll play great one quarter and not the others,” he said. “We didn’t play well at all against Andale, and then we come back and played defense. We played well (against Collegiate), but we’re so inconsistent.”
The inconsistency is especially clear on offense, but patience is needed. It was defense that was key in the win over Collegiate, which is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.
“Our defense was unbelievably good,” said Stephenson, whose team gave up 38 points. “We did everything we were supposed to. It’s some of the best defense we played in a long time. We also broke their press. Don’t let that rattle you and execute.”
Connor Hurst, Kyler Steinkamp and Tristan Finch usually lead Augusta in scoring. Sean Brandenburg, who missed last season with a knee injury that he suffered the day before tryouts, has proven to be a physical presence inside.
The area nominees are Eisenhower’s Trevon Evans, a 2013 All-State selection, Kapaun’s Sydney Kuhn, Salina Central’s Shaelyn Martin and Maize South’s Mariah Suchan. Wamego’s Kaylee Page and Blue Valley Northwest’s Clay Custer, both 2013 All-State selections, were also nominated.
Perry Ellis played in the 2012 McDonald’s All-American game.
Carroll at North
Kapaun at West
South at Heights
Southeast at Northwest
Buhler at Rose Hill
Clearwater at Andale
Collegiate at Circle
Derby at Newton
Eisenhower at Valley Center
El Dorado at Mulvane
McPherson at Winfield
Salina Central at Campus
Salina South at Maize
Wellington at Augusta
Belle Plaine at Douglass
Bluestem at Medicine Lodge
Chaparral at Conway Springs
Cheney at Garden Plain
Independent at Trinity Academy
Halstead at Smoky Valley
Hesston at Haven
Hillsboro at Pratt
Nickerson at Kingman
Lyons at Sterling
Argonia at Elk Valley
Attica at Hutchinson Central Christian
Berean Academy at Hutchinson Trinity
Canton-Galva at Sedgwick
Central-Burden at South Haven
Centre at Rural Vista
Ell-Saline at Remington
Fairfield at Burrton
Flinthills at Peabody-Burns
Fredonia at Eureka
Inman at Moundridge
Marion at Bennington
Norwich at South Central
Pratt Skyline at Ashland
Pretty Prairie at South Barber
Sedan at Oxford
Udall at Cedar Vale-Dexter
West Elk at Caldwell