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Five Thoughts on Area 1A Sub-States


By Brad Hallier


HUTCHINSON, Kan. – And we’re off.

KSHSAA announced the first round of basketball substate brackets over the weekend, and they’re in Class 1A Division 1 and 1A Division 2.

Postseason play will start on Thursday, which may be a bit odd as the other classifications will still be playing regular-season games later in the week. Even in 1A, many schools will play Tuesday in games that won’t affect substate seedings.

Here are five thoughts regarding the 1A substates.

Let’s address the elephant in the room now

The girls Little River Division 1 substate is … difficult.

Little River will be the top seed, and deservedly so. Little River is 18-1, with an intriguing game Tuesday against Central Plains looming. Its only loss was to non-KSHSAA member Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy. Only two opponents – Spearville and Central Christian – have played Little River to single digits.

Little River should be the overwhelming favorite, right? If this were a text message, the response would be simple. LOL.

The second seed is reigning Division 1 state champion Pretty Prairie. Only Attica has beaten the 17-2 Bulldogs.

The third seed? That Central Plains team (16-3). The Oilers are the reigning Division 2 state champion and have won eight state titles in a row, and it would likely be nine had it not been for Covid cancelling the 2020 semifinals. Their only losses have been to strong teams from Sunrise, Berean Academy and Phillipsburg. Besides, are you really going to write off a team that’s won eight straight state titles?

Is that it? Not even close. Fairfield is the four seed at 14-5, and the Falcons will host 13-7 St. John in the first round. That’s right. 13-7 wasn’t good enough to host a first-round game.

In sixth is 11-8 Macksville, which would be the second seed in other substates.

Please KSHSAA. Please 1A schools. Let’s do something about this. This might be more difficult that the state tournament.

Oh, there’s more

The Little River substate isn’t alone. Go a bit east to see another great girls substate in Goessel.

Elyria Christian will be a slight favorite as the top seed at 16-4, but the next four teams are Sylvan-Lucas (14-5), Rural Vista (13-6), Canton-Galva (12-8) and Goessel (11-8). Yes, Goessel is 11-8 and has to go on the road and win before playing in the substate the Bluebirds are hosting.

Make it makes sense. Please.

Central Christian is the overwhelming favorite in Burrton, while boys field is up for grabs

Few teams in 1A played a more challenging schedule than Central Christian’s girls. At 13-6, the Cougars are the top seed in the Burrton Division 2 substate. Nobody else has more than nine wins.

The Cougars have a good mix of youth and experience, and they can score while playing a handcuffing defense. They have a great chance at going to the state tournament in Dodge City.

On the boys side, the substate is wide open. A banged-up Central Christian squad is the second seed at 6-13, and the injury woes aren’t improving. Can the Cougars get to the final and beat a large, but not deep, Southern Cloud (8-11) team? Stay tuned.

Little River boys substate should be fun

Macksville is the top seed at 17-2, with those losses being to strong teams in Ellinwood and Wichita Independent. Given Ellinwood’s proximity to Little River, it’s a little surprising the two didn’t meet up in the regular season.

Should they meet in postseason play, it’ll be in the substate finals. Little River is a talented and tested team at 14-5, with two losses coming to Elyria Christian, two more to Inman and one to Moundridge. But let’s not overlook third-seed Pratt Skyline (13-6), which always seems to be a pest in the postseason.

Stafford has been underrated and maybe unappreciated

The Stafford boys, after a good football season, did well in basketball with a 14-5 record. The Trojans won the top seed via tiebreaker with Pawnee Heights. With nobody else having more than seven wins, a great championship game awaits in early March. Stafford has been underrated and maybe unappreciated, and a trip to Dodge City would validate the season the Trojans have had.