Friday might have been the most captivating night of basketball in the Wichita area this season.
With clocks running out of time and standings implications on the line, a handful of teams and players stepped up.
Here are five takeaways:
City League tight at the top
Never miss a local story.
Heights and Southeast were tied for first place in the City League after their first meeting, and the separation might not be much different when they meet for the second round.
After Heights beat North and Southeast lost to Kapaun on Friday, the City League’s leaders are tied at the top again. The stage is set for the Feb. 20 rematch.
“Welcome to the City League,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “… I’m a big Crusader fan tonight.”
Heights (14-3, 11-2 City League) is a half-game in front of Southeast (13-3, 10-2). Carroll (12-5, 9-4) is the only other team with a winning record in league play.
There are plenty of games that could change the race before Heights and Southeast meet again.
The Buffaloes play at Carroll on Tuesday, and the Falcons host South on Friday. Still, with only four regular season games left, it is becoming more clear that Heights and Southeast are likely to finish Nos. 1 and 2.
“We just need to stay focused and get back to playing Southeast basketball,” Buffaloes coach Melvin Herring said after Friday’s loss. “It’s not a bump in the road. We got a lot of basketball left. Records don’t mean anything, it’s just when it comes down to the sub-state pairings and who’s gonna show up at the dance.”
Kapaun catching fire
The Crusaders are beginning to look a lot like last year’s City League winners.
Kapaun is mathematically eliminated from winning the league after a 1-6 start to the season. But with a 59-49 victory over Southeast, the Crusaders (9-7, 5-7) are 8-1 since.
“I can count on one hand how many times we’ve had a bad practice,” coach John Cherne III said. “Yesterday we had a bad practice. We stopped and reset. I sent them out in the hallway, and when they came back in, they finished hard.”
Much of Kapaun’s success has come through the leadership of Mitchell Woodward. The junior was part of last year’s City League-winning team but said though that helps, each year is different.
“You can’t take any win for granted; you win, you move on,” he said. “Can’t let past performances dictate how you’re gonna play the next one.”
Woodward finished Friday with a game-high 20, pushing his season average to 18.5 points.
Tor’e Alford doubled down.
About 96 hours after Bryant Mocaby hit a double-overtime buzzer-beater over Salina Central, Alford buried one at the buzzer again.
Derby beat Newton 33-30, and Alford said she took what the defense presented.
“If someone is open, no doubt I’m gonna give it to them,” she said. “But if everyone is covered up and there’s no help, I’m gonna take my man one-on-one.”
With short time, Alford dribbled at the top of the three-point line. She cut to her left and fired the game-winner.
“I practice it every day in practice, and it was a pretty open look,” Alford said.
The win keeps Derby safely atop AV-CTL I, maintaining a 2 1 /2-game lead over Maize.
A few hours after Alford’s shot, Newton got even — 10 years even.
The Railroaders’ boys got a 68-65 victory over Derby. It was their first win over the Panthers in 10 years, Newton coach Andy Hill said.
There were a handful of former Newton players sitting behind Hill and the bench. With a packed gym and alumni there, Hill said it was a special night.
“You could just kinda feel it in the building,” he said.
Newton closed the game on a 17-4 stretch. Hill said it was a huge momentum-building win for the Railers.
“But momentum is only as good as your next day,” he said.
With the loss, Derby dropped into second behinf Maize in AV-CTL I. The Panthers entered Friday riding a six-game winning streak. They hadn’t lost since their midseason tournament at McPherson against Carroll.
Bryant Mocaby and Tyler Brown combined for 49 points, but it wasn’t enough as Newton’s zone defense got one stop when it needed it.
“We took some lumps early on that guys didn’t expect to,” Hill said. “Having that happen allowed us to grow up to the point where we were able to respond to a difficult situation.”
The finish of the night in Kansas came from Douglass.
The Bulldogs trailed Independent by 10 with 50 seconds left. After two steals and three three-pointers, Douglass was still down one.
Independent went to the free-throw line at the other end made one and missed one, which set up Devon Anderson with four seconds left.
Anderson dribbled through the middle of the court and launched a running three-pointer at the buzzer.
He drilled it. Douglass won 62-61.
Final :50 sequence. Plus Coach Nordstedt celebrating. pic.twitter.com/TOrbDNq2TW— Douglass Bulldogs (@DHSBULLD0GS) February 10, 2018
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” coach Laron Nordstedt said. “That’s like something you see on the SportsCenter Top 10. It still feels like a dream.”
The Bulldogs are 4-13 after the win. It hasn’t been the season they hoped for, but Nordstedt said he was proud of the effort his team showed late Friday.
“To not give up and continue to play till the end of the game speaks volumes to our guys’ resilience,” he said. “They continue to come to practice and work their butts off, so for a moment like last night to happen was a very special moment for a very deserving and great group of guys.”