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Five Storylines from Girls State Basketball

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By Brad Hallier

 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – An incredible week of substate action yields to what could be another brilliant week of girls basketball. So many storylines to watch, and here, we break down five to watch from teams that qualified from the Ad Astra Radio area.

The drive for nine in a row goes on for Central Plains

Think about this. The current Central Plains freshmen were in preschool the last time the Oilers didn’t win a state championship.

The greatest basketball dynasty, and arguably the greatest dynasty ever, in Kansas high school sports would likely have already won nine state titles in a row if it wasn’t for Covid ending the 2020 tournament before the semifinal round. Even more impressive is Central Plains has won titles in multiple classifications, including 2A (2014-2018), Class 1A (2019) and Class 1A Division 2 (2021-2022).

Central Plains survived maybe the toughest substate in any classification, boys or girls. It included two defending state champions (Pretty Prairie and Central Plains), the top-ranked team (Little River) and maybe Class 1A Division 1’s best young team in St. John. The field is balanced in Dodge City, and that might play right into Central Plains’ hands.

By the way … let’s not forget Wilson High School is closing and many students will go to Central Plains. Wilson’s girls basketball teams are often really good too.

Speaking of great young teams, let’s not discount Canton-Galva

Canton-Galva has some great young players and will be a force in the future. But dang, look what the Eagles did just to make it to the 1A Division 1 state tournament.

First, the Eagles had to beat a 12-win Goessel team. Then, it was top-seed and 16-win Elyria Christian. Finally, the Eagles beat 16-win Sylvan-Lucas. Don’t think for a second Canton-Galva, even as the eighth seed, can’t turn heads in Dodge City and keep this run going.

A challenging schedule prepared Central Christian

How about the program DJ Kauffman has built? Another trip to the Class 1A Division 2 state tournament is coming up, and a good mix of youth and experience makes Central Christian a tough opponent.

But more than anything, Central Christian has been challenged all year. Not one team that beat Central Christian had fewer than 10 wins and only one had fewer than 15. The Cougars have played the likes of Little River, Norwich, Pretty Prairie and Elyria Christian. Beloit-St. John’s will be a tough opponent for the sixth-seeded Cougars, but St. John’s won’t have anything Central Christian hasn’t seen already.

Cheney is one of about eight teams that can make a run in Hutchinson

The 3A girls tournament is stacked. Two undefeated teams. The six seed has two losses. The bottom two seeds are traditional powers.

Cheney is one of those great teams. A team with size and length that NCAA Power 5 programs would envy, the Cardinals navigated a tricky substate in Lyons to reach make it to state in Hutchinson.

The Cardinals have not lost to a 3A team this season, and that size is a big reason. The biggest problem opponents will face against Cheney is 6-foot-3 senior Campbell Hague. Hague can defend a post player as well as a point guard. Yes, point guard. Hague is that athletic. She can also handle the ball and hit outside shots.

Every game should be tight in Hutchinson, but there’s no reason to think Cheney can’t hoist a trophy.

McPherson is a contender in what seems to be an open 4A tournament

Yes, we all see 4A bully Bishop Miege there. Even at 13-9, Miege should be considered the favorite, as the Stags have won three state titles in a row and seven in the last eight years. Plus, the Stags are playing for longtime coach Terry English, who died unexpectedly before the season.

For McPherson, the Bullpups won’t have to worry about the Stags for a bit, as they are seeded No. 2 and on the opposite side of the bracket. They’ll get tested against Topeka Hayden, which beat Fort Scott in the substate championship game on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Then, it could be Andale, which is typically tough and gritty.

If someone is going to end Miege’s reign at the top, the best chance might be McPherson.