Varsity Basketball

Previewing the top AVCTL/GWAL Challenge matchups + Varsity Kansas Game of the Week

Bishop Carroll finds magic, beats No. 1 Heights

The Bishop Carroll boys basketball team beat previously undefeated and No. 1 Wichita Heights 61-46 on Tuesday night on the road.
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The Bishop Carroll boys basketball team beat previously undefeated and No. 1 Wichita Heights 61-46 on Tuesday night on the road.

No. 8 Wichita Heights at No. 1 Derby (Girls, Thursday)

The challenge got this one right.

Heights is one of the hottest teams in Kansas. The Falcons are 3-0 against the three teams that finished ahead of them in the City League last year. They have a two-game City League lead and go against a team that hasn’t lost since last year’s season opener.

Heights will be undersized, especially in trying to guard the No. 1 player in Kansas, 6-foot-6 center Kennedy Brown. But the Falcons have shown an ability to play above their size, especially around the rim.

They will be without freshman starting guard Cayanna Stanley, who was ejected Tuesday after a fourth-quarter altercation with Bishop Carroll’s Allison McFarren. But sophomore Laniah Randle and junior Taylor Jameson will be two to watch if Heights can hang around on the road.

Previous Meeting: Derby 63, Wichita Heights 60 (Jan. 26, 2017)

Prediction: Derby 50, Wichita Heights 45

No. 3 Wichita Southeast at No. 2 Andover Central (Boys, Thursday)

Southeast at Andover Central.PNG

Two of Kansas’ most explosive offenses should make for a show.

Andover Central forces opponents to guard all five positions with junior Xavier Bell and seniors Easton Leedom, Braden Belt and Jerome Washington on the floor. But Southeast has the athletes to do it and the offense on the other end to match.

Sophomore guard Jackie Johnson III has gotten out to a hot start with the Buffaloes under first-year coach Joe Mitchell, averaging 20 points a game. Junior Micah Jacques and senior Johnny Murdock add some much-needed extra scoring options. They will be important to keeping up with the Jaguars’ fast-paced offense.

Prediction: Andover Central 72, Wichita Southeast 69

Bishop Carroll at No. 3 Maize (Boys, Friday)

Carroll at Maize boys.PNG

Maize is catching the defending champs at the wrong time.

Bishop Carroll is coming off its first big win of the season, a 61-46 victory over previously undefeated Heights on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles’ offense came to life as it did late last season, and its defense stifled the Falcons’ transition offense all night.

But Maize is hot, too. The Eagles beat 5A runner-up Salina Central on the road Tuesday. They are now one of three teams in Kansas to have two their past two road games against the Mustangs. With so much attention going to senior Caleb Grill, Brandle Easter Jr., Chase Schreiner and Devon Koehn have come to life in the Maize offense.

Previous Meeting: Maize 59, Bishop Carroll 51 (Jan. 9, 2015)

Prediction: Maize 52, Bishop Carroll 50

No. 9 Wichita East at No. 10 Campus (Boys, Saturday)

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Campus is riding its biggest emotional high in the past 15 years.

The Colts beat rival Derby for the first time in 30 tries on Tuesday but must put that behind them quickly with one of the most historic programs in Kansas coming to their gym.

Junior Shawn Warrior is coming off a 19-point performance against the Panthers in just his second game since earning eligibility after transferring from Wichita Southeast. His third game will be a City League homecoming.

East is looking for its third straight win and first statement victory since beating Bishop Carroll Dec. 11.

Prediction: Campus 64, Wichita East 59

Bishop Carroll at No. 4 Maize (Girls, Friday)

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There will be a lot of hugs after the game.

Although Carroll and Maize haven’t played in almost three years, there is a lot of familiarity between the programs as many of the players compete on the same offseason team. They know one another’s playing styles, which should make for an entertaining game.

Carroll has lost three straight, including a 45-35 road loss to Heights on Tuesday in what was likely its last shot at hope of a City League title. Maize hasn’t been beaten since it played Derby to its closest game of the season Dec. 11 on the road.

With Maize’s Halie Jones and Alexis Cauthon, and Carroll’s Britney Ho and Allison McFarren on the floor, expect points.

Previous Meeting: Maize 49, Bishop Carroll 34 (Jan. 15, 2016)

Prediction: Maize 59, Bishop Carroll 50

No. 1 Wichita Heights at Derby (Boys, Thursday)

Heights at Derby boys.PNG

Derby is the most dangerous one-win team in Kansas.

In the Panthers’ four games against state-ranked teams, outside of an ugly loss at Salina Central, they have lost by fewer than five points per game. They are young and inexperienced but have the potential to sneak up on any team in the Wichita area, including Heights.

The Falcons will be eager to get a win after suffering their first loss of the season, a 61-46 home defeat to Bishop Carroll on Tuesday. They struggled in the second half after opening up a 10-point halftime lead.

Derby will be just as eager, fresh off its first loss to rival Campus in 15 years.

Previous Meeting: Derby 62, Wichita Heights 48 (Jan. 14, 2006)

Prediction: Wichita Heights 49, Derby 45

Wichita South at No. 6 Maize South (Girls, Friday)

South at Maize South.PNG

Maize South has proven to be one of the state’s best teams, but the Mavericks haven’t had a test like the one coming Friday.

Wichita South is quick to get to the basket with seniors Aerihna Afoa and Brittanie Brickhouse leading the way. They come in 5-3 with wins over Kapaun and Northwest, but a victory over the undefeated Mavs would be their biggest of 2019.

Maize South has one of the best starting lineups in Wichita, featuring senior Lauren Johnson, junior Katie Wagner and first-year transfers Zayda Perez from Valley Center and Alexis Snodgrass from Wichita Northwest, who led the City League in scoring last year.

Prediction: Maize South 61, Wichita South 56

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.