Varsity Kansas

Class 1A-Division I boys tournament preview

At White Auditorium, Emporia

Wednesday’s Quarterfinals

3 p.m.: Clifton-Clyde vs. Marais des Cygnes

No. 8 Clifton-Clyde (9-13) — The Eagles suffered through an eight-game losing streak but managed to get hot at the right time. Their three-game winning streak in sub-state is its longest. They beat their sub-state opponents by an average of 16.7 points. Clifton-Clyde, making its first trip to state since 1997, gets easy baskets in transition and is led by Caleb Gelino (15 points, 7 rebounds), Colin Sikes (13 points) and William Ohlde (11 points, 6 rebounds).

No. 1 Marais des Cygnes (23-0) — It’s easy to pinpoint senior Mark Price (6-8 center), who averages 15.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, as the key for the Trojans, but they are deep. Matt Jones (6-6 forward, 12.4 points, 7.2 rebounds) and point guard Kaden Vanderpool (11.9 points, 5 assists) are also key; both have started every game since their freshman season. The Trojans, who have not lost to a Lyon County League opponent in two seasons, are at state for the first time in 14 seasons.

4:45: Spearville vs. Caldwell

No. 5 Spearville (16-7) — The Lancers have no seniors and have four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen on the team, but also lost a junior and a sophomore to season-ending injuries. Freshman Luke Heskamp runs the point, while sophomore Nathan Stein is the leader in scoring (17.4 points), steals and assists. Junior Kaden Stein averages nine rebounds and 15.2 points. Spearville is back at state for the first time since losing in the first round in 2010, when it ended a 13-year drought at state.

No. 4 Caldwell (17-7) — Leading scorer Darin Ward was injured for the season before it began, and the Bluejays stumbled to a 3-5 record. But as they figured out how to play without Ward, they developed a strong defensive system and created a balanced attack with Kaden Halling, Devan York and Sam Wencel, who each average between 8-10 points and 5-7 rebounds. Since that rough beginning, Caldwell, which hasn’t been to state since 2001, won 14 of 16 games.

6:30: Hartford vs. Hoxie

No. 7 Hartford (10-13) — Hartford’s current winning streak of five games is also half the team’s total victories. The Jaguars’ last trip to state was in 2002, when coach Patrick Gardner played for Hartford. Senior Lane Ikerd (6-2 forward) averages 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Clayton Fowler (5-5 point guard) averages 16 points and shoots 40 percent from three-point range. Hartford’s offense is sparked by its lockdown defense, which leads to easy baskets in transition.

No. 2 Hoxie (22-1) — Hoxie is on a 22-game winning streak after a season-opening loss to Wallace County, the No. 2 seed in 1A-II. Hoxie is making its third straight trip to state after its best finish, third place, in 2012. The Indians are led by do-it-all senior Kade Spresser (20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists), senior Chase Kennedy (14.8 points) and junior Connor Katt (12.1 points, 3.4 steals). In Hoxie’s 22 wins, the Indians have outscored opponents by nearly 29 points. The closest game was a 13-point win over Class 3A Norton.

8:15: Macksville vs. Valley Heights

No. 6 Macksville (16-7) — Macksville failed to qualify for state the past two years but has two titles, winning with an unbeaten record in 2006 and going 25-1 in 2011. Point guard Tanner Tranbarger has been a critical factor for the Mustangs, averaging 21.3 points, although he has scored at least 30 several times in the past 10 games. Simon Miller is Macksville’s top post, and he averages 15.3 points, 13.2 rebounds and three assists. Jordan Welch adds 12.6 points.

No. 3 Valley Heights (21-2) — The Mustangs have four starters averaging 10 points — Charles Musil (11.5 points, 9 rebounds), Derek Trimble (11 points, 6.5 rebounds), Elijah Smith (10.3 points) and Gage Woodyard (10 points, 5 rebounds). Valley Heights is on an 11-game winning streak, but after winning by 14 in the sub-state semifinal, the Mustangs eked out a 42-41 win over Centralia. Valley Heights has advanced to state two other times, in 1996 and 1987, bowing out each time in the first round.

Friday’s semifinals

Spearville-Caldwell winner vs. Clifton-Clyde-Marais des Cygnes winner, 4:45 p.m.

Macksville-Valley Heights winner vs. Hartford-Hoxie winner, 8:15

Saturday’s finals

Third-place game, 2 p.m.

Championship, 6:15

Joanna Chadwick’s picks

Hoxie over Marais des Cygnes

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