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Three storylines to follow for state girls basketball


By Brad Hallier

We can talk about how the smaller classifications do substate later, but boy, it sure stings seeing Halstead and Smoky Valley not at the Class 3A state tournament, simply because they were in the same substate with equally powerful Hesston.

It’s state-tournament week, and it’s going to be a lot of fun at the seven state venues. Here are three storylines to watch for.

Haven deserves this trip to Hutchinson

OK, I lied. Let’s talk more about how 3A and lower do substates based strictly on geographical pods. Yes, you can say Haven lucked out by going 13-7 and being the top seed in Hoisington, but that overlooks the number of years Haven is in a brutal substate with the likes of Cheney or Hesston or Halstead or Notre Dame or Connecticut or LSU. Haven has gotten through and to state before, but not always.

For seemingly the first time ever, Haven’s geographic region wasn’t a hindrance. And after all the heartbreak Haven has experienced through the years due to geography, it’s nice to see the Wildcats make up for years of unlucky postseason assignments. Coach Dwight Roper and the Wildcats completely deserve this, and saying anything else is unfair and inaccurate.

Unfinished business for Little River

Last year, Little River suffered maybe the biggest upset Kansas high school basketball had seen in years, as the top-ranked team in Class 1A Division 1 was upset in the regional semifinals by a young and rising St. John team.

Little River has come back with a focus and vengeance this season. Only Hanover has been close to Little River (49-43). Little River doesn’t just beat good teams. They hurt good teams. They’ve beaten Moundridge by 18, Inman by 15, Berean Academy by 33, Central Christian by 27 and Central Plains by 28.

Little River hasn’t looked ahead and hasn’t looked back. And it isn’t easy in Thursday’s first round as Little River plays traditional power Olpe.

But if you really want to look ahead, a Little River-St. John rematch in the state championship game is possible. If it happens, move the game to Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday and charge $100 a ticket.

Andale ahead of schedule

Andale is a traditional power, so it’s not a shock to see the Indians at the Class 4A state tournament. But Andale didn’t return a single starter from last year when the Indians finished in fourth place.

And yet, even without a single senior or returning starter, Andale is going back to state. The Indians are 14-8 and will take on top-seed Wellington in the first round.

Andale enters the state tournament playing well, too. The Indians have won 9 of 12, with all three losses being to teams that are still playing (Haven, Clearwater, Wellington). Better get Andale now. Next year, you may not be able to.