The Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League was mostly quiet Tuesday night, but the City League made up for it.
With all but one team holding a loss, Tuesday’s action provided more clarity for what was a murky City League picture heading into the holiday break. On top of that, there were some standout performances embedded in those results.
Here are five takeaways:
1. Playoffs in January
Never miss a local story.
The top four boys City League teams didn’t disappoint.
Heights beat South, and Southeast held off North, setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that could have massive implications come the end of February.
Southeast hosts Heights on Friday, a game that wasn’t nearly as anticipated last season. The Falcons beat a much-less touted group of Buffaloes 64-53 last year at home.
But this year’s Southeast squad seems different, poised for a championship run, and coach Melvin Herring said he coaches a game-at-a-time mentality. And Heights is next.
“We play for each other,” Herring said. “And taking this down the road, it’s a confidence booster.”
2. North’s Johnson: Next City League star
Late in the third quarter, Jackie Johnson III called for an isolation play against Southeast’s rangy point guard, Johnny Murdock. Johnson danced to his right, stepped back and hit a 30-foot fadeaway three-pointer.
About a minute before, he dodged through a herd of Buffaloes for a running floater in the lane and was fouled.
Johnson came in as the City League’s leading scorer and, despite the 77-71 loss, left with 25 points and a heap of respect.
At 15, Johnson already has command of the offense, Herring said, a rare trait given his experience. And North coach Gary Squires said despite the holiday break, Johnson hasn’t missed a step mentally or physically.
“He did a great job,” Squires said. “Made some shots, forced a few, but he’s only 15 years old. He’s learning with every game.”
3. South girls make statement
The Titans are the only 7-0 Class 6A team in Kansas.
Coach Antwain Scales and his team beat Heights 43-28 to solidify first place in the City League. Heights came in with one loss.
Carroll (5-1) remains a City League threat, but South took care of the Golden Eagles earlier this season.
4. Rose Hill continues hot streak
Since losing their season opener to Augusta, the Rocket boys have won six straight and are off to one of the best starts in school history.
Rose Hill beat Clearwater 60-52 Tuesday night behind 20 points from Koby Campbell.
The Rockets are outscoring opponents 365-285 during the streak behind Campbell’s hot hand. He is the second-leading scorer in AV-CTL IV, and coach Josh Shirley said Campbell is a gym rat.
“The kid is a relentless worker,” Shirley said. “I’m kicking him out every day 20, 30 minutes after practice.”
5. AV-CTL I closer than expected
Four girls teams start the second semester with one loss in AV-CTL I.
Derby, Maize, Newton and Hutchinson sit at 4-1 or better, and there are few signs pointing toward legitimate contenders after Tuesday.
Newton and Derby hold the second and third-leading scorers in the league in DesiRay Kernal and Kennedy Brown.
Maize has beaten Newton. Derby has beaten Maize. And Newton beat Hutchinson 56-34 on Tuesday night. With many of these teams playing one another this week, the picture should become clearer.