With the AV-CTL/GWAL Challenge and midseason tournaments on the horizon, Tuesday’s slate held importance with one last shot at momentum.
Several teams put a stamp on their record before interleague play begins in the Wichita metro. Here are five takeaways:
1. Derby vs. South stage set
The Derby girls allowed only 13 points to Newton (7-2) in the final three quarters of their 51-23 victory. And in the City League, South held Kapaun to 20 points.
They teams will face each other at 6:45 p.m. Saturday in the AV-CTL/City League event at Koch Arena, and the game has the potential to be the area’s best over the weekend.
The Class 6A powers haven’t met since Jan. 30, 2016, when the Titans won 47-34.
South’s defense has been suffocating this season, allowing fewer points than any City League or AV-CTL team per game. Loan-Anh Johnson is averaging 11.1 points per game as the Titans’ leading scorer. Eight others are averaging at least five points.
At Derby, it’s much of the same story. The Panthers (6-1) are getting contributions from their entire roster with each player scoring at least three points per game. With Kennedy Brown, perhaps the state’s most highly-touted recruit leading the charge, a South victory certainly isn’t a done deal.
2. Hillsboro coach hits career milestone
Darrel Knoll took over at Hillsboro in 1988, and Tuesday, he won his 500th boys game as coach of the Trojans with a 81-55 victory against Hoisington. It was his first job out of college.
Since the 2005-06 season, Knoll’s teams have had a winning record nine times and appear to be on its way to a 10th after jumping to a 6-3 start this season. Knoll said the message he sends to his players has been the key to his consistency.
“The one thing I tell everyone is we need to treat each other well as teammates,” Knoll said. “We have got to make sure everyone feels like they’re a quality part.”
Knoll said it was a special occasion to have former players, assistant coaches, family and friends there to celebrate the milestone.
“When the game was done and 500 was there, I guess that one did mean more than the others, more than 200 or 300,” Knoll said.
3. Kapaun boys finally “catch a break”
The Crusaders earned their second win of the season Tuesday against one of the last teams it would have been expected to come against.
Kapaun knocked off South 55-49. South came in with a winning record and victories against North and East. Although Kapaun had a 1-6 record, coach John coach John Cherne said, “You never would have known.”
“There was just a different feel about the evening that hadn’t been there all year long,” Cherne said.
At this time in 2017, Kapaun had only lost one game, coming against the Titans. Kapaun won eight of its last nine games last year, including victories at Heights and at Southeast.
Cherne said though the players are different on this year’s team, the message to the rest of the Wichita area is still the same.
“I wouldn’t want to play us in February,” he said. “And this took a step toward that.”
4. Goddard boys keep fighting
Much like Kapaun, Goddard proved to be a late-season team last yeat, and coach Kyle Taylor said there are signs of that happening again in 2018.
The Lions took undefeated Eisenhower to double overtime before losing 72-71. Goddard lost to 6-2 Salina Central by five in the season-opener and beat Maize before the holiday break.
“We’re close,” Taylor said. “We’re right there. Just need to get over the hump a little bit.”
Taylor said despite the record and the loss Tuesday night, his team is taking confidence from its trip across town. Goddard led for the majority of the game and controlled the pace, Taylor said.
If not for a stellar overtime effort from Dylan and Jordan Vincent, the Lions would sit at 2-6. Vincent finished with 29 points and and his brother Jordan had 15 with all but three coming in overtime.
“I think we’re better than our record shows,” Taylor said. “… We’ve got some good kids that are starting to put some things together.”
5. Tournaments could feature huge matchups
Benchmark time has arrived.
With major inter-league events starting Thursdayand continung i next week’s midseason tournaments, teams have the chance to prove their worth.
In the AV-CTL/GWAL Challenge, the Maize schools meet the top City League schools, Heights and Southeast, on Saturday. Those four schools are a combined 24-6 and are outscoring opponents by 9.3 points per game.
Four Wichita-area teams that could meet up in the McPherson Invitational. Derby has won five straight and is socring 18.7 more points per game than it did to start the year. North has one of the game’s most promising players, Jackie Johnson III. Carroll, like Derby, has been on a tear of late as well, winning four of its last five, including a two-point win over Southeast.