Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Three Thoughts on Class 3A, 2A Substate Basketball


By Brad Hallier


For some bizarre reason, KSHSAA classifications 3A and lower continue to adhere to the antiquated regionalized substate system. While 4A, 5A and 6A divide the state in half for substate, the smaller classifications maintain strict geography to decide the eight state-tournament qualifiers.

That’s where we begin our three thoughts on 3A and 2A substate basketball, which had their brackets announced Wednesday morning.

Sigh … the Southeast of Saline girls substate is so brutal it’s honestly not right

Where does one start with this 3A substate, hosted by Southeast of Saline?

Halstead is the top seed at 17-3. The Dragons, coached by Derek Schutte, have been brilliant this year. They’ve beaten teams like Eureka, Smoky Valley, Hoisington, Maize, Valley Center, Circle, Haven and Hesston.

It should mean the Dragons have a favorable path to state, right?




Halstead would get the winner of 16-4 Osage City and 15-5 Southeast of Saline in the semifinals. That’s right, Southeast of Saline was 15-5 and can’t even get a home first-round game.

Oh, we’re just getting started. The survivor of the top half of the bracket could play No. 2 seed Hesston (17-3). No. 3 Santa Fe Trail (16-3) or No. 6 Smoky Valley (14-6).

Smoky Valley is playing as well as anyone in Kansas. Since a Jan. 2 loss to Hoisington, the Vikings have gone 13-2 and beaten Southeast of Saline, Hillsboro, Hoisington, Haven and Halstead.

That’s right. The No. 6 seed has beaten the No. 1 seed at this substate, and few people batted an eye.

Listen up 3A. Change it. Your substate could be next to have six state-championship contenders, and trust me, it won’t be fun.

Opportunity knocks for Haven

Few schools are punished year to year than Haven thanks to location. It just seems Haven is always in a brutal substate. Just last year, the Haven boys were – at worst – the fourth-best team in Class 3A. But because Haven was in the same substate with a Hesston team about to win its third straight state title, Haven didn’t even make it to state, despite playing Hesston as tough as anyone outside Southeast of Saline.

Haven will head west to Hoisington this year. For the 13-7 girls, they are the top seed, edging Hoisington on a tiebreaker. Haven will get tested in the semifinals, possibly by a young and dangerous Larned team. Then it could be a Hoisington team eager to avenge defeat on its home floor.

The Haven boys are No. 2 at 14-6. Ellsworth is No. 1 at 16-4, and Haven could get Hoisington in the semifinals. But it sure beats playing a team during a dynasty in substate. It’s like the NFC teams realizing they don’t have to worry about the Kansas City Chiefs unless they make the Super Bowl.

Sterling boys have tough road ahead

Sterling had a tremendous year, going 18-2 and being ranked No. 1 a good chunk of the year.

The Black Bears, however, enter substate after losing to reigning 2A champion Moundridge in an instant classic. Sterling is the top seed and opens with 9-11 Wichita County. The top six teams in the Meade substate have at least 12 wins, and Sterling’s semifinal opponent would have at least 15 wins.

Should Sterling advance to the championship, Meade could be waiting. All Meade did was win 17 games and will host the game.

The path to Dodge City isn’t easy.