Stats: Bentley secured her place among the all-time greats at Miege, as she concluded her career as a four-year starter with a 94-6 record, four straight state championships, and more than 1,000 points. In her senior season, Bentley took on more of a scoring role and responded by averaging 17.7 points and earning MVP honors in the Eastern Kansas League. Bentley, a 5-foot-9 guard, also averaged 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.6 steals to help lead Miege to a 2-3 record and the Class 4A-I championship. While she was always a capable scorer, Bentley’s most valuable contribution to Miege’s four-peat was her defense. For four years, Bentley was Miege’s lock-down perimeter defender and a reason why it was so difficult to score on Miege in the postseason.
Coach Terry English: “Hunter was not only our leading scorer, but she also had the assignment of stopping the other team’s best player every game while averaging over 30 minutes. Hunter will go down as one of the most accomplished kids in the history of our program. As good of a player as she is on the court, she is an even better person off the court and in the classroom. She is the true definition of a student-athlete and we will miss her leadership, determination, and her bubbly personality.”
Stats: In her second season, Brown took the next step as one of the most dominant two-way forces in Kansas. The 6-foot-6 sophomore averaged 16.4 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks, as she led Derby to 20 wins and an appearance in the Class 6A championship game. Brown was a difficult post to guard, as she had the height to score in the blocks and the shooting ability to step out and knock down three-pointers. Even when teams would gear their game plans to surround her in the post to take away her offense, Brown was still able to impact games with her defense and rebounding. She finished with two triple-doubles on the season and accounted for nearly half of her team’s rebounding, as she increased her averages in rebounds and blocks. Brown’s versatility and shooting touch at 6-6 has made her one of the most highly-recruited players in Kansas and a top prospect in the class of 2019.
Coach Jodie Karsak: “Kennedy is the real deal. She’s a 6-foot-6 kid who is athletic and can shoot it. She can score on you in the paint, shoot over you out at the three-point line, or take you off the bounce. Offensively, she can do a lot of different things. I think what she doesn’t get enough credit for is her passing and how well she sees the floor. She can read the double teams and get it to the open player. She’s also really good with both her left and right hand. I’ll have college coaches who will ask me if she’s left or right-handed because they can’t tell. Defensively, she’s just a dominant player and she’s very smart at knowing when to jump and when to not foul. She’s just a very smart basketball player, especially for just a sophomore. She’s humble, hungry, and smart and I think she’s going to do great things.”
Stats: Leading teams to the first state championship in their program history is becoming a theme in the career of Carr, who transferred to Manhattan after helping lead Minnetonka to their first title in Minnesota last season. Carr averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals to help guide Manhattan to a 24-1 record and the Class 6A championship. Carr has become a nationally sought-after prospect because of the athleticism and guard skills in a 6-foot frame. Carr shot 48 percent from the field this season and finished with 47 made three-pointers, the most in Manhattan program history. Carr was the leading scorer in the 6A tournament, as she averaged 17.7 points and finished with a double-double in a 44-42 victory over Derby in the championship game. Carr has made a non-binding commitment to play at Kansas State, where her father is director of student-athlete development for the women’s program.
Coach Scott Mall: “Chrissy is an outstanding shooter who is long and athletic. She worked very hard this season to learn a new system of offense and defense. Chrissy also focused on improving her individual skills, as her ability to drive to the basket, her on-ball defense, and her rebounding all improved during the season. In addition to her scoring, she was second on our team in assists.”
Stats: It’s difficult to imagine a better shooting season than the junior campaign from Robertson, a 5-foot-7 guard who was Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. She set the McPherson program record for scoring average (24.3), total points (582), field-goal percentage (61.9 percent), three-pointers (85), three-point percentage (57.4), and free-throw percentage (91.5). After three seasons, Robertson owns the top three marks in program history for three-pointers made. When defenses began face-guarding and sending double teams her way, Robertson elevated her shooting accuracy to another level as she finished with an effective field-goal percentage of 75.1. She made more than 50 percent of her shots from beyond the arc in all but four games, as she led McPherson (21-4) to the Class 4A-I championship game. Robertson, who also averaged 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.9 steals, is on pace to shatter McPherson’s career scoring record with 1,338 career points.
Coach Chris Strathman: “We have had some outstanding players come through our program, but Taylor is by far the most skilled player that I have ever coached. She has spent absolutely countless hours in the gym working on her game and deserves every bit of recognition that she receives.”
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS JUNIOR
Stats: Aquinas won back-to-back Class 5A championships for the first time in program history with Weledji serving as the team’s driving force. Coach Rick Hetzel has developed a winning formula at Aquinas of slowing the pace, committing to defense, and grinding teams down. It doesn’t make for impressive offensive numbers and Weledji’s worth goes far beyond her 11.1 scoring average. Not only was Weledji, a 6-foot junior, was the team’s leading rebounder, but she was also the most versatile defender on the team. She has the strength to defend in the post and the quickness to stick with guards along the perimeter, as those same traits allowed her to play whatever position needed on offense.
Coach Rick Hetzel: “What makes Sereena so valuable is her ability to play any of the positions, one through five. She can do anything, whether it’s handling the ball or going down low or driving and penetrating. She’s so versatile and she’s just really consistent. You knew every night what you were getting. She was going to work hard, play defense, rebound, and go strong to the basket. She was just a really good player for us and a big part of our success this season.”
Hugoton finished 26-0 record and the Class 3A championship, completing a dominant season in which it won by an average of 32.9 points — 20.3 points at the state tournament. In five seasons at Hugoton, Gillen has led the program to four straight appearances at the state tournament and the school’s only two state championships in any sport. Gillen has won championships in three different divisions, as he led South Gray to an undefeated 1A title in 2010 and Hugoton to a 4A-II title in 2015 and a 3A title this season. After losing in the semifinals in last season’s state tournament, Hugoton was motivated to return to the championship level it reached in 2015. Hugoton surpassed even that, as it averaged close to 70 points and had four players average more than 10 points. Gillen has led Hugoton to a 90-9 record in the last four seasons, which has coincided with the careers of seniors Katy Heger, Amy Scott, and Sydney Hein. “This was a very special season and I think the most important part was the leadership from the seniors,” Gillen said. “After we got beat last year in the semifinals, those seniors wanted to come back together and they decided things were going to be a little bit different. The way we practiced was a little bit different and the way we approached games was a little bit different. The results speak for themselves. Those girls carried us and now they have pretty much every record in school history now. I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”