Two of Wichita’s top teams go down to the buzzer
The City League girls basketball title was clinched Friday night as Wichita Heights beat South 57-34 at home. Here are the number of league wins needed from each of the league leaders across the Wichita area.
City League Boys: 3 (Wichita Southeast)
City League Girls: 0 (Wichita Heights)
AVCTL I Boys: 2 (Maize)
AVCTL I Girls: 2 (Derby)
AVCTL II Boys: 1 (Andover Central)
AVCTL II Girls: 3 (Maize South)
AVCTL III Boys: 2 (McPherson)
AVCTL III Girls: 2 (McPherson)
AVCTL IV Boys: 2 (Andale)
AVCTL IV Girls: 3 (Andale, Rose Hill)
Central Plains League Boys: 3 (Trinity Academy)
Central Plains League Girls: 3 (Cheney, Garden Plain)
Stops at 6
The City League has a new girls basketball champion for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Wichita Heights knocked off six-time GWAL winner Wichita South 57-34 on Friday and clinched the Falcons’ first league title since 2011 in the process. They did it with three league games to go, and they are the first league champion in the Wichita area.
“It’s awesome for this young group of girls,” Heights coach Ken Palmer said. “They’ve surprised even me.”
South had won six of its past seven entered the night with wins over Kapaun, Carroll and Shawnee Mission East. But Heights’ only loss came in the AVCTL/GWAL Challenge at undefeated Derby. The Falcons brought a different energy.
“We came out a little better than we have in the past,” Palmer said. “This group of young kids, they can put numbers on the board. They’re relentless. They play so hard, and they’re just getting better.”
Sophomore Laniah Randle and freshman Zyanna Walker led the way offensively, and junior Taylor Jameson and freshman Cyanna Stanley were tough to deal with on defense, Palmer said.
Red Dead Redemption
Before every game as Caleb Grill is introduced, he puts his jersey over his nose and acts like a wild west outlaw.
Maize’s motto this season is Red Dead Redemption, based on the popular western-set video game. Grill said they felt like outlaws Friday night with a 46-45 road win over Campus. The Colts were second in the AVCTL I standings behind the unbeaten Eagles.
The motto came from coach Chris Grill, Caleb said. It’s a play on the Maize colors and feeds on the Eagles’ quest to redeem their sub-state championship game loss to Salina Central last season.
They were on the ropes on the road. Senior center Devon Koehn, who finished with a second game-high of 12 points, said he knows there is a target on their backs.
“The opponents have nothing to lose, and they play like it obviously,” he said. “They usually come out hitting and don’t miss a shot, so it’s hard to come back.”
Fellow senior Brandle Easter Jr., who led all players with 21 points, had to step up as Caleb Grill went scoreless through the first half.
“I knew we just needed to get in our offense,” he said. “We just needed to slow down.”
The leading scorers had six points.
Garden Plain beat Central Plains League-leader Cheney 25-24 in a defensive rivalry game. The win opened the door for the Owls atop the league standings, now tied with the Cardinals at 9-1.
“It was a typical Cheney-Garden Plain game; it was fun,” he said. “We didn’t feel like we played very well against them last time, not to take credit away from Cheney, but we didn’t handle the pressure well.”
Seniors Lauren Danahy and Kara Heimerman each finished with six points, but their contributions were amplified on the other end. Heimerman was tasked with guarding Cheney sophomore Kylee Scheer, one of the top scorers in the Wichita area.
She finished with five points, and three game at the final buzzer.
Garden Plain coach Kody Kasselman said he didn’t know whether it was good defense on both sides or poor shooting, but the atmosphere was great.
“People come over from five miles apart,” Kasselman said. “We’re neighbors. We’re friends. You know people, but you definitely want to win that game.”
Playoffs start now
After Eisenhower’s loss at Andover Central on Tuesday, coach Steve Blue knew his group couldn’t afford another loss.
The Tigers are into postseason mode and showed it Friday with a 67-58 home win over rival Arkansas City. Last year the Bulldogs swept Eisenhower for the Tigers’ only two regular season defeats, but Blue said that didn’t play into this meeting.
“Every game is a big game,” he said. “The way the sub-state seeding is set up, we have got to keep winning. Our mindset coming in was just to protect our home court.”
Eisenhower, now 10-6 and ninth in Class 5A West, needed a signature win to show the rest of the Wichita area it had the potential for the same offensive potency of recent years. Ahead of Friday night, the Tigers’ best wins were against Andover. Ark City entered 12-3.
Eisenhower junior guard Jordan Vincent (28) and Ark City senior guard Cevin Clark (33) combined for 61 points. Blue said his group just got stops when it needed them.
“It’s definitely a big win for us,” Blue said. “This will hopefully be a big momentum boost. Ark City has given us problems. They have us problems earlier in the year, and for us, it’s about getting confidence for our kids that haven’t played that much.”
Door left open
The Andale girls have nine wins this season, and more than half of them have come in league play.
The Indians moved into a tie atop AVCTL IV with Rose Hill after the Rockets’ 66-62 loss to Wellington on Friday. Both sit 5-1 in league play and will meet Feb. 19 in Rose Hill.
Rose Hill’s Drew Glennemeier hit a three-pointer with 28 seconds to go that made it a two-point game, but the Crusaders were ice down the stretch.
The Rockets topped Andale earlier this season on the road 42-36, but since then, they have gone 2-5 with all but one game coming against teams with a winning record.
1,000 and 1
Andover Central is about to be in the news a lot.
Not only are the Jaguars one of the top teams in Kansas, seeded second in Class 5A West, three players are hovering around 1,000 career points. After Friday, it’s only two.
Senior guard Braden Belt ecplised the 1,000-point mark on a transition layup in Andover Central’s 73-54 road win over Goddard. Junior Xavier Bell and senior Easton Leedom are also on the cusp on the accolade.
Andover Central needs one more league victory to clinch the AVCTL II title. It could come Tuesday at home agianst Maize South.
1,000 and 2
There were two 1,000-point scorers in the Wichita area Friday.
McPherson senior Jake Alexander reached the mark during the Bullpups’ 55-42 road win over Winfield. They are two league victories away from the AVCTL III title.
Alexander scored 20 points on his historic night as he helped McPherson to its 12th win in its past 13 games.