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Three thoughts on Class 6A, 5A and 4A substate basketball


By Brad Hallier

Now, every basketball team in Kansas knows its postseason draw.

Saturday morning, KSHSAA released brackets for Class 6A, 5A and 4A. Those classifications are, of course, set up a little differently than the others. Instead of eight substates with a preset location and opponents with minimal travel in mind, the bigger classifications are divided by east-west, and the top seeds in each game host.

Here are three thoughts on the larger classes.

Can the Hutchinson boys keep their momentum going?

Who would have thought that at the start of the 2020-2021 season, Hutchinson would be state-tournament contender annually?

Coach Bryan Miller quickly turned around a program that had slumped. The Salthawks reached the 6A state tournament in 2021 and the 5A semifinals last season.

This year’s Salthawks are 14-6 and earned the No. 5 seed. They’ll open substate play at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Eisenhower at the Salthawk Activity Center, a rematch of Hutchinson’s 70-54 win earlier this season in Goddard.

A win there, and Hutchinson would play the winner of No. 4 Great Bend and No. 13 Bishop Carroll. That’s a tricky matchup for Great Bend, as Carroll’s schedule was tough. The Golden Eagles lost six games to City League powers Kapaun Mount Carmel, Wichita Heights and Wichita Northwest. They also lost to powerful teams in McPherson and Junction City. Great Bend is good, though. If Hutchinson beats Eisenhower, a trip to Emporia for the state tournament is far from a sure thing, but that we’re talking about Hutchinson’s state prospects (again) speaks volumes regarding the work Miller has done.

Buhler-McPherson in postseason. Again.

Seriously, is there some sort of obscure KSHSAA rule that stipulates Buhler and McPherson have to play in the postseason? Sheesh. It seems these two schools play all the time in postseason play, in multiple sports.

Sure enough, the Buhler boys drew McPherson in the first round of the 4A substate. It’ll be a tall task for Buhler, the No. 16 seed at 5-15. The Crusaders are banged up, and playing the undefeated Bullpups, who beat Buhler twice this season by a combined 90 points.

The Bullpups are a strong favorite to win the state championship, and don’t think for a second coach Kurt Kinnamon will allow his players to look past Buhler. Not a chance of happening.

Road trips!

It’s always a bit amusing when Wichita-area schools have to take a lengthy road trip out west. It’s not quite as daunting when the roles are reversed, as western Kansas schools routinely travel hours to play even league games.

But this is why 4A and up have it right. The teams earn their way to home-court advantage.

Reigning 4A boys champion Hugoton is the No. 2 seed in the West Substate. The Eagles will open with Augusta, and then play either Wellington or Mulvane.

How far of a trip will that be for Augusta? A trip to Branson, Missouri would be comparable. For Wellington, a trip to Ardmore, Oklahoma would be similar. For Mulvane, a similar trip would be to St. Joseph, Missouri.