Varsity Basketball

Meet the Wichita Eagle’s 2018-19 All-Metro girls high school basketball team

From Left: Kade Hackerott, Goddard; Tor’e Alford, Derby; Kennedy Brown, Derby; Lauren Danahy, Garden Plain; Katie Wagner, Maize South. Coach Kody Kasselman, Garden Plain. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team.
From Left: Kade Hackerott, Goddard; Tor’e Alford, Derby; Kennedy Brown, Derby; Lauren Danahy, Garden Plain; Katie Wagner, Maize South. Coach Kody Kasselman, Garden Plain. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. The Wichita Eagle

The final accolades of the 2018-19 Kansas high school basketball season have been announced. Here is The Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro high school girls basketball team.

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Tor’e Alford. Derby. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

When Alford snags one of her 2.4 steals per game and starts a fast break, about half the time, she slows and restarts the offense.

Instead of pushing the issue, she finds a better shot. This sums up her Derby career and is emblematic of her second straight All-Metro girls high school basketball selection.

Alford helped lead Derby to 44 straight wins before the Panthers fell in the Class 6A semifinals to Washburn Rural. She wrapped her career with four trips to the state tournament and the first girls basketball state championship in Derby history.

Alford has been a headliner of the Panthers’ class of 2019 and a co-star with Kennedy Brown, one of her childhood friends and fellow back-to-back All-Metro selection. Together, they are two of the few Division I-bound girls basketball seniors in the Wichita area.

Alford is off to Missouri State upon her graduation. She said her ride as a Panther has been memorable but is set for the next chapter.

“I’m excited for a different atmosphere,” she said. “Different people I don’t know in a different state I don’t know. (Excited to) explore and find out more about it.”

Derby High School girls basketball's Tor'e Alford

Accolades

  • 23-1 Record
  • Third-place finish in Class 6A
  • AVCTL I champion
  • Wichita Eagle Class 6A second team
  • 8.2 points per game
  • 4.2 assists per game
  • 3.9 rebounds per game
  • 2.4 steals per game
  • 2018 Class 6A state champion
  • 2018 Wichita Eagle All-Metro selection
  • Four-time sub-state champion
  • Missouri State commit

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Kennedy Brown. Derby. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

The Derby girls basketball team has lived on the motto of being, “uncommon,” and Brown has been the prime example.

The Panthers senior was named Kansas’ first female McDonald’s All-American this year on a long list of career highlights. She is off to Oregon State upon her graduation but picked up her third and final All-Metro selection in 2019.

Brown was on the top of every scouting report and still averaged 17.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and four blocks per game as a senior. She helped lead Derby to its fourth straight state tournament appearance and another AVCTL I title as a senior.

Derby won 44 straight games from the 2017-18 season opener to this year’s state semifinals. Brown and fellow All-Metro selection Tor’e Alford were two of the constants.

Derby lost to Washburn Rural 55-50 in the semifinal round. Brown was not sent to the free-throw line through the state tournament until the third-place game.

Although it wasn’t the exact finish the Panthers were chasing after an undefeated regular season with only one game being decided by fewer than 10 points, Brown — one of the best players to come out of Kansas — said she believes she had a good four years.

“We kind of put Derby on the map,” she said. “I think they’ll have more successful years to come, but I think we accomplished a lot and should be proud of that.”

Derby High School girls basketball's Kennedy Brown

Accolades

  • 23-1 Record
  • Third-place finish in Class 6A
  • AVCTL I champion
  • AVCTL I MVP
  • Three-time Wichita Eagle All-State top 5 selection
  • Wichita Eagle Class 6A first team
  • McDonald’s All-American
  • 17.2 points per game
  • 11.8 rebounds per game
  • 4 blocks per game
  • 2018 Class 6A state champion
  • Three-time Wichita Eagle All-Metro selection
  • Four-time sub-state champion
  • Oregon State commit

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Lauren Danahy. Garden Plain. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

On one of the most balanced teams in Kansas, Danahy played her way into an All-Metro selection through the Class 2A state tournament.

The Garden Plain senior hit the game-tying three-pointer to send the Owls’ state semifinal game into overtime. A day later, she came through with big buckets in the final minutes to lock down Garden Plain’s second straight girls basketball state championship.

Danahy’s numbers didn’t jump off the page as a senior, averaging 10.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. But All-Metro Coach of the Year Kody Kasselman said she turned into a leader when needed most.

The girls basketball title was Danahy’s second of the 2018-19 school year, the second to the Owls’ Class 3A volleyball title won in the fall.

Danahy was one of nine players to win both: Sydnee Becker, Claire Clark, Natasha Dooley, Abby Gordon, Kara Heimerman, Kennedy Horacek, Alli Puetz, Anna Smith.

Danahy said it was a fun four years with the final two being what she remembers most.

“The pressure of going back-to-back was definitely there, but we just stepped up and made big shots when it needed to be done,” she said.

Garden Plain High School girls basketball's Lauren Danahy

Accolades

  • 21-4 record
  • Class 2A state champion
  • Central Plains League co-champion
  • Wichita Eagle Class 2A first team
  • Central Plains League first team
  • 10.9 points per game
  • 4.9 rebounds per game
  • 43 percent from three-point range
  • Back-to-back state champion

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Kade Hackerott. Goddard. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

The Goddard program has been building toward a state championship, and the Lions believe the best is yet to come.

But in 2019, Hackerott proved she is capable of serving as the leader of a title-winning team. She averaged 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists on a 20-win team that reached the Class 5A state tournament.

Although the Lions lost in the quarterfinal round to eventual runner-up Blue Valley Southwest, Goddard entered the Class 5A tournament as the No. 2 seed after a 20-2 regular season.

The Lions graduated six seniors from this year’s roster but return a promising core of talent with Hackerott at the top.

Hackerott is one of Kansas’ most complete players with a low post game that can compete against any size and a shooting stroke that forces opponents’ defenses to stretch beyond the three-point line.

Goddard did not have a win against a state qualifier in 2019 but took Maize South to the wire in both games the teams met. Hackerott said her dad and coach Kevin Hackerott deserves credit for where she and the team have come.

“It starts in the summer,” she said. “A lot of effort goes into putting progress towards our team in the weight room and the gym all the time. It started when my dad got here. We had kids buying in, and I think this year, we had the talent to go along with the buying in.”

Goddard High School girls basketball's Kade Hackerott

Accolades

  • 20-3 record
  • Class 5A state qualifier
  • Wichita Eagle top 10
  • Wichita Eagle Class 5A first team
  • AVCTL II MVP
  • 15.1 points per game
  • 7.4 rebounds per game
  • 3.1 assists per game
  • Division I offers

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Katie Wagner. Maize South. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

Averaging 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, Wagner helped Maize South to its first AVCTL II title, first undefeated regular season and first state tournament appearance in school history.

The Mavericks were bounced in the first round by eventual Class 5A champion St. Thomas Aquinas after they were penalized five losses for fielding a “partial transfer.” But Maize South had wins over Maize, Mill Valley and Goddard twice.

Although the Mavs were undersized against most opponents, Wagner’s ferocity in the paint served as a counterweight that kept them viable at any spot on the floor.

Wagner will become a senior leader next year after the graduation of seniors Zayda Perez, Lauren Johnson and Alexis Snodgrass. But thanks in part to Wagner, the Mavericks now have a tradition and legacy to uphold.

“I’m super proud of our team for coming together through everything that we went through,” she said. “Everyone was in it 100 percent. I loved it. I love my team. I love my coaches; they really kept us driven and ready to go. It was really a special group.”

Maize South High School girls basketball's Katie Wagner

Accolades

  • 23-1 record
  • Undefeated regular season
  • AVCTL II champion
  • Class 5A state qualifier
  • Wichita Eagle top 10
  • Wichita Eagle Class 5A first team
  • AVCTL II first team
  • 16.4 points per game
  • 9.1 rebounds per game
  • Division I offers

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Coach Kody Kasselman. Garden Plain. Wichita Eagle’s All-Metro team. Travis Heying The Wichita Eagle

Plenty of players have overlapped between Garden Plain’s two state title teams. Kasselman has been the mastermind behind both.

Garden Plain beat Sterling 47-40 in the Class 2A title game and finished the 2019 season with a 21-4 record. The Owls were undefeated against 2A teams and lost only to 4A Rose Hill and Trinity Academy, and 3A runner-up Cheney.

The Owls finished as co-champions of the Central Plains League with rival Cheney.

Kasselman said he couldn’t pick between which title felt sweeter but that the 2019 team was special because of the way it handled itself.

The 2019 Owls were composed, even while trailing. Kasselman said that presented challenges to the coaches, trying to read this group, but when the title was clinched, it was very apparent how his team felt.

“They’re selfless,” Kasselman said. “They don’t look at the stat line. They don’t look at who scores the points as long as we get the W for the Garden Plain Owls. It’s about us. It’s about the team.”

Garden Plain High School girls basketball coach Kody Kasselman

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