Singing a new Carroll?
After about a dozen poor quarters, the Carroll basketball machine started to churn.
Quickly it started to burn as the Golden Eagles torched previously undefeated Wichita Heights 61-46. The Falcons entered as the No. 1 team in Class 5A, according to the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association rankings. Carroll fell out of the top 10; they will likely be back next week.
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Carroll trailed 31-21 at halftime against Heights on the road. The Eagles hit just eight buckets in the first 16 minutes and struggled to defend all five positions, a key to containing the lengthy Falcons.
In the second half, it started to click, coach Mike Domnick said. He saw glimpses of what made his team special on its way to a 5A state championship last season.
“I was wondering when these pieces were going to come together because we haven’t played terribly well,” he said. “We haven’t beaten an above .500 team. They’re the best team in the league, maybe in the state. Now it’s about can we do it two games in a row?
“That’s OK. We want to be challenged. That’s what we want. That’s what we get in the City League.”
Carroll held Heights in check in transition, fouling when needed, not turning the ball over and not settling for three-point shots outside the Falcons’ zone defense.
The 15-point win is the most stunning so far of the City League season. Now the Eagles must double down with another road test against another state-ranked, undefeated rival: Maize. They play Friday in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge.
A stampede of emotion
Campus has long been little brother, but little brother has some muscles in 2019.
The Colts beat rival Derby 52-48 on Tuesday on the road. It was the first time in 30 tries in 15 years. That most recent victory coming in 2004. When the final buzzer rang, the Campus student section rejoiced.
In his second game since earning eligibility after transferring from Wichita Southeast, junior Shawn Warrior scored 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half. He said he trusted in what coach Chris Davis put forth.
Davis said in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, he told his players to play within themselves to ride out a road win to stay toward the top of AVCTL I with undefeated Maize.
“I told them, ‘Don’t do anything that we’re not capable of doing,’ “ Davis said. “ ‘ Don’t do things that we haven’t done all year. Keep your composure and pull together.’ We didn’t panic and made enough plays down the end.”
Campus now has wins over Derby, Salina Central and Newton. The Colts will look for another statement in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge at home Saturday against Wichita East.
A fight for the City League
Only a handful of teams can boast what Heights can Wednesday.
The Falcons improved to 8-0 with a 45-35 win over Bishop Carroll, last year’s 5A runner-up. They are two games clear atop the City League with a 35-point win over Kapaun, who sits second.
They are sprinting through the 2018-19, and few are recognizing as they sit No. 8 in Class 5A, according to the latest KBCA rankings. Coach Ken Palmer said he doesn’t fully understand it but doesn’t necessarily mind.
“I tell my kids, ’That’s just fuel, just keep playing,’ ” he said. “(The coaches) will recognize who the top dog is, so we got to show them. We can’t talk about it. We got to keep winning.”
Despite 20 points from Carroll senior center Britney Ho, Heights got a blend of production.
Juinor guard Taylor Jameson and freshman forward Zyanna Walker scored a team-high 11 points. Fellow freshman Laniah Randle had 7, and Cayanna Stanley scored 6 before she was ejected for landing a punch to Carroll senior Allison McFarren’s face in the fourth quarter.
Both players shoved one another before an altercation spilled through a timeout.
Heights will look to keep its unbeaten streak alive Thursday against the team many consider to be the best in Kansas, Derby, the No. 1 team in Class 6A and the defending champions, who also enter the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge undefeated.
Champions get pecked
Cheney always gets up for Garden Plain.
The Cardinal girls topped the defending Class 3A champion Owls with their largest win over their rival since 2010 with a 47-32 home win Tuesday night. Cheney is in the driver’s seat of the Central Plains League at 5-0.
Cheney sophomore guard Kylee Scheer scored a game-high 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting. Seniors Layne Needham and Destinee O’Shea added 12 and 8 respectively on an effecient 7-of-10 from the floor.
It was the Cardinals’ first win over Garden Plain in four tries.
Cheney entered the rivalry game No. 3 in Class 3A, and the Owls were in No. 1 in 2A, according to the latest KBCA rankings. With the win and barring a loss to Chaparral on Friday, the Cardinals are sure to rise with wins over Trinity Academy, Conway Springs and the defending champions - the top three contenders for the CPL title this season.
Soaring above the herd
Last year, Maize scored 30 points as Salina Central ended its season in the sub-state championship round. Tuesday, the Eagles scored 23 in the third quarter alone against the Mustangs on the road.
Maize, the No. 3 team in the latest KBCA rankings, earned a 55-43 win at Salina Central to remain undefeated. The Mustangs, the Class 5A runners-up, have lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Eagles coach Chris Grill said last year didn’t necessarily play into Tuesday’s win. His group is ready every night.
“They’re a year old,” he said. “They’re a little more aware and understand there are different ways to win a ball game. When you lose a game like we did last year, I think those guys can quickly get themselves back locked in.”
With the win, Heights’ loss and Andover Central not playing Tuesday, Maize moves into the No. 1 spot in Class 5A West and is tied for the third-best record in Kansas with one of the best average margins of victory at 21 a night.
Grill said the win at Central was a well-rounded one. Brandle Easter Jr. scored a team-high 17 points. Chase Schreiner had 13. Caleb Grill added 13, and Devon Koehn had 10, including some crucial late-game buckets.
But most important, Grill said the Eagles were 17-of-19 from the free throw line, and that helped melt the game away.
Maize is now alone with McPherson and Liberal as the only two teams in Kansas to have won its two most recent road games against the Mustangs.
On the (winning) road again
The Mavericks boys basketball team, as its football team did, struggled out of the gate.
Maize South started 0-3 in league play after losses to both Andover schools and Arkansas City. Since then, the Mavs are 3-0 after a 59-53 win over Eisenhower on Tuesday. They are tied for fourth in AVCTL II.
Coach Kip Schultz said his team has fought the injury bug all season. Recently the Mavs have been getting back to full strength, and they needed it against the Tigers, who entered looking for their third straight win.
Schultz said his group shot the ball well and tried its best to contain explosive junior guard Jordan Vincent, who scored 18 in the loss.
Maize South was picked No. 8 in Class 5A, according to the KBCA preseason rankings. The Mavericks have talent inside and out, including guard Trey Reid, who hit a game-winner over Valley Center on Friday, and center Kael Kordonowy, who can dominate with his 6-foot-7 frame.
Schultz said he knows this group still has more potential.
“I think the only bad game we’ve played is Andover,” he said. “I feel like we’re starting to hit our stride in terms of playing together, finding our chemistry and having better substitutions off the bench. For us to go on these three wins, I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise because I’m not surprised, but I think we can do more of that as we roll on.
“I feel like this team’s capabilities are through the roof, and I still don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of all five guys playing their best game.”
Trinity Academy beat a 7-1 team by 44.
The Knights throttled Kingman 61-17 to improve to X-0. But Kingman has had a strong schedule and come out nearly unscathed despite Tuesday’s showing.
The Eagles have wins over Cheney and Garden Plain, and their only loss came to Inman, the No. 1 team in Class 2A, according to the latest KBCA rankings. Trinity has just been on a train this season.
With the victory, the Knights are undefeated in their past 15 regular season game. Their most recent such loss came last year to Kapaun in the Bluestem Classic championship game. Kapaun has 691 students this year. Trinity has 245.
Trinity is wealthy in experience with 10 seniors, three juinors and no underclassmen on the team. With that, the Knights hope to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2015, when they finished third in 4A-Division II. They are No. 1 in Class 4A West.
On top of the Hill
Since losing their season-opener, the Rose Hill girls have won eight straight and lead AVCTL IV.
The Rockets beat defending league champion Andale 42-36 on Tuesday night and now have wins over the Indians (last year’s Class 4A-Division I runners-up), Garden Plain (the defending 3A champion) and Wellington (who sit 7-2 and are poised to reach the 4A tournament).
Rose Hill’s only loss came to non-league power Circle, and its next-closest game was a 5-point win over Chanute. With the win, the Rockets remain one of the top four seeds in Class 4A West.
They are looking to make their first state tournament since 2015 when they reached at 7-9 and lost by 22 to undefeated Paola in the first round. This Rose Hill team already has more wins and hasn’t even reached its midseason tournament.
Record in danger
In an otherwise dreary season, Drew Ellis has given Mulvane life.
Tuesday night in a 71-63 loss to Clearwater, Ellis became the Wildcats’ second leading scorer in program history with 1,177 career points. He passed Lonny Travis and is just 41 points behind Jerry Webster to claim the top spot.
Through the winter break, Ellis was one of the highest-scoring players in the Wichita area, averaging 20 points per game.
Mulvane has one win this season. It came Dec. 3 against Labette County. Ellis scored 38 points, one of the best performances in Kansas this season.
Pups starting run
After starting an unprecedented 0-3, McPherson has rattled off five straight wins and leads AVCTL III.
The Bullpups earned a 53-50 win over Augusta on Tuesday, marking coach Kurt Kinnamon’s 500th career win. He was 475 with McPherson and 25 at Canton-Galva, according to Mid-Kansas Radio’s Jim Joyner.
With the win, the Pups improve to 5-3 with wins over league foes Circle, Augusta and Buhler. McPherson starts a brutal three-game stretch Jan. 18 against Shawnee Heights, Collegiate and Andale. Those three teams have 15 combined wins.