Varsity Basketball

Basketball recap: AVCTL/GWAL Challenge begins with lineup of thrillers

Wichita Southeast stuns Andover Central in overtime with first loss

The Wichita Southeast boys basketball team beat Andover Central 82-72 in overtime in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge.
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The Wichita Southeast boys basketball team beat Andover Central 82-72 in overtime in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge.

Jackie Buckets

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With about 40 seconds left, down three, Jackie Johnson III was supposed to curl around a screen for a shot at the three-point line, but he didn’t.

Southeast coach Joe Mitchell said he was glad he didn’t. Johnson found a pocket about five yards beyond the line and buried a three to help send the game to overtime in the Buffaloes eventual 82-72 win against previously undefeated Andover Central.

Johnson was cooking Thursday, finishing with a game-high 34 points.

“We needed that (shot),” he said. “I was just doing whatever I could to help us win a game. That just happened to go in. Thanks to the man above.”

Southeast scored 30 points in the game’s first seven minutes but just two in the following six. It was a sign of more to come. The Buffaloes were streaky throughout, especially in the second half, but Johnson and junior Micah Jacques, who scored 29, hit enough pivotal shots late and attacked the basket in overtime.

“It’s really big for us, but I try to keep our kids at a steady, steady mindset,” Mitchell said. “Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low. Just like a couple days ago, we went to an environment (at Heights) and didn’t play so well.”

With the win, Southeast moves to 8-1. It is the Buffs’ most impressive win of the season and should give them momentum heading into the second half of the City League schedule, tied at the top with Heights.

Only one undefeated

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Two undefeated league-leaders meet in the opener of the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge as No. 8 Wichita Heights goes to No. 1 Derby on Thursday night. Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Derby coach Jodie Karsak said it was their toughest test of the season.

The Panthers pulled out a 66-52 win over previously undefeated Wichita Heights in the Varsity Kansas Game of the Week. It came down to details, Karsak said.

“All the inches, we had to make sure we were cutting hard to catch,” she said. “We had to work on the boards. You couldn’t just jump. You had to box out. We were excited for this because we needed something like this.”

Everything needed to be crisper against the City League leaders, and it was. The Derby defense was active, cut passing lanes and was its usual self at the rim.

Offensively, senior point guard Tor’e Alford pulled the strings, especially in the second half after burned popcorn set of the fire alarm and forced the gym to be evacuated. Alford said it gave the Panthers a breath and allowed them to refocus.

Senior center Kennedy Brown finished with a team-high 25 points, and though Heights sophomore Laniah Randle had a game-high 27, Brown was a force defensively.

“I think that’s the most somebody has scored on us in a couple of years besides (McPherson’s) Taylor (Robertson),” Karsak said. “So what a heck of a player. She almost single-handedly kept them in the game.”

‘It’s Derby’

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Heights entered with six more wins than Derby but trailed through almost three quarters.

With under four minutes to go in the third, Heights went on an 11-2 run to snag the lead and didn’t trail again in the Falcons’ 55-43 win.

Heights coach Joe Auer said his group was punched in the mouth and was still a bit hung up on suffering its first loss of the season two nights earlier at home to Bishop Carroll.

“It’s Derby,” Auer said. “Derby is a school full of athletic kids that have a lot of pride and don’t like to lose. I was very impressed with how coach (Brett) Flory had them ready to go.”

Auer said the win was massive for the promising Falcons. A second straight loss could have dented their confidence heading into the midseason tournament season.

To come through late in the second half was important for a still-maturing team, Auer said.

“You always want to bounce back, but for us, we don’t trail a bunch,” he said. “For our kids to get on a bus, go to Derby, that’s a whole different deal for us. We were out of our comfort zone today.”

Chipper Crusader

Kapaun coach Bill Graf is having fun.

The Crusaders sit second in the City League and won again Thursday, a nearly comfortable 56-49 victory over Newton. Graf said his group just gets it.

“These girls want to practice in the morning tomorrow,” he said. “They asked, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure. I didn’t really know that was an option.’ They’re tough, and they’re so much fun.”

Kapaun finished third from the bottom in the City League last year. The Crusaders had six league wins. They already have that many. They beat a group of Railers who had only lost to undefeated and one-loss teams.

And Graf said this is the most fun he has ever had coaching at Kapaun.

“They love each other, and the end result is all they care about,” he said. “They’ve really bought into each other and the coaching staff. I don’t have to ever worry about effort with them.”

Comeback on Kapaun

Newton scored six points in the first quarter and averaged almost 25 over the next three.

The Railers topped Kapaun 74-57 in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge and had to come from behind to do it.

Newton trailed by three at halftime, but junior Alex Krogmeier drilled a three-pointer in the third quarter that sprung the Railers emotionally and gave them a 2-point lead.

With the win, Newton improves to 5-4. Kapaun drops to 3-6.

Southeast gets Jagged

Andover Central is on a roll.

The Jaguars have won three straight after a healthy 51-39 win over Wichita Southeast in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge on Thursday. Freshman Brittany Harshaw scored a team-high 17 points, and sophomore Jaden Newfarmer had 14.

Since losing to undefeated Goddard by 24 Dec. 11, Andover Central has outscored opponents 153-103. The Jags will look to keep the streak alive Friday at home against Valley Center.

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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.