Before the season began, the Wichita Trinity boys appeared to be in position to struggle.
Their coach, David Swank, who had led them to the Class 3A title in 2008, left to coach at Pratt. And he took two of Trinity's top returning players — his sons, Micah and Matt.
The Swanks' impact at Pratt has been immediate; the Greenbacks are 7-1 after winning 10 games last season.
But Trinity hasn't stumbled. The Knights are 5-1.
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"I'm just real pleased with the work ethic of these young men," first-year coach Steve Miller said. "David Swank did a nice job running this program for the last few years, and he deserves some of the credit."
The Knights' work ethic has been a key.
"I emphasized that we may not have the best players on the floor, but we'll try to outwork everybody," Miller said.
Trinity is deep, too, which has helped.
In Tuesday's win at Medicine Lodge, Miller started three juniors and two sophomores, with sophomore Scott Kempin scoring a team-high 15 points.
Trinity has won in a variety of ways. The Knights can pound the ball inside to Austin Kessinger, who had 22 in the opener against Belle Plaine. Against Bluestem, Trinity used its fastbreak, finding Morgan Burns up the court.
"It's just a lot of people contributing," Miller said. "That's kind of the way I coach, too. I like to play a lot of people."
Trinity plays host to Bluestem tonight.
Why, hello again — On Jan 5, the North boys came back from winter break and played host to East, the state's third-ranked team. North lost 57-56.
It's been two weeks, and North will meet East again, this time at East.
In a quirk of the schedule, North will play East for the second time before it has played Kapaun Mount Carmel once. East hasn't played Northwest yet.
"That's just the way the schedule has fallen," North coach Gary Squires said."... I don't have a problem with it. It doesn't bother me. I just want to get over there and get after those guys. They're a good basketball team, and I think the kids are ready to get over there and get after it, too."
Rough week — Haven girls coach Dwight Roper knew this week would be rough.
On Tuesday, Haven lost to Marion, an athletic team, ending a six-game winning streak. Tonight Haven will play host to Collegiate, Class 3A's second-ranked team.
"I've known for a long time what this week was going to be like," Roper said. "But it makes you better.
"... I told them after the (Marion loss) that you have to have a short memory. Learn from it and move on."
Haven graduated its starting five from last season's 21-2 team that lost in the sub-state final to Concordia, the eventual Class 4A champion.
The Wildcats stumbled initially, losing to Clearwater on a last second shot, then losing to Wellington after taking an 11-0 first quarter lead and then scoring a combined 13 points in the final three periods.
"We were kind of trying to find our way," Roper said."... The people that came back, they had experience, but it's a different kind of experience. You're more of a role player than a go-to player."
Haven has seven players averaging between six and nine points. Sheridan Stefanski has stepped into the role as the team's go-to player, along with have Tessa Reynolds and Noell Nordstedt.
The Wildcats are young, with a freshman getting quality minutes, and a sophomore starting point guard and two junior starters.
"I'm very pleased with where we're at," Roper said. "We've competed hard and hung in, and when you do that, you always have a chance."