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Courtesy of our Advertisers Inside: Profiles and feature stories on teams and players from across northern Kansas. Previews for almost 200 Kansas high school teams.


Kansas Hardwood — Our First Edition

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ome of my best childhood memories involve my father and his passion for Indiana basketball. Many of my Friday nights in those pre-consolidation years were spent with him, cheering on our local team, the Liberty Center Lions. The movie, Hoosiers, was the story of the Lions, with the state title as the prize we were never able to claim. Over the years, we whipped teams from much larger schools. Our players weren’t especially tall — in fact, I don’t even remember a standout — but we expected the Lions to win and they seldom disappointed. After I moved to Kansas and my father came to visit, my husband took Dad to a K-State game. The ‘Cats played Bobby Knights’ Indiana Hoosiers that night. Dad came home talking about the great sportsmanship he witnessed between Knight and K-State coach Jack Hartman. I’m sure it helped that the Hoosiers won. And that Knight and Hartman were friends. The words Indiana and basketball are often considered interchangeable. Who hasn’t heard of Hoosier Hysteria? But, truth be told, other places — Kansas included — have as much right to the distinction as my home state. In fact, perhaps more. During a recent interview with Kansas Hall of Fame basketball coach Ken Cochran, which starts on Page 4 of this magazine, we talked about the Sunflower State’s place in basketball history. Remember, the game’s founder, James Naismith, coached at the University of Kansas and is buried at Lawrence. “When I talk to somebody on the phone, I always ask them where they are from and they say, ‘Yeah, we’re big on basketball.’ Every state thinks it’s big on basketball,” Cochran said. “Kansas is steeped in basketball tradition. When you have the originator of the game, everybody is second to that. Without him, there would be no basketball.” Which brings us to Kansas Hardwood. For several years now, John and Bree Baetz and I have talked about a high school pre-season basketball magazine. This year we decided to stop talking and produce Kansas Hardwood, which is based on Kansas Pregame, a high school football publication the Baetzes started several years ago. Perhaps the hardest part of a publication such as Hardwood is to convince coaches they have enough time to tell us about their teams. In some of the smaller schools, coaches move from athletic director to football to basketball. The school year is a blur of responsibilities. Our target area this first year is north-central and northwest Kansas. The goal is to go statewide at some point, perhaps in another three years or so. We’ll see. We made a hard and fast rule with this first edition that a team must have a sponsor in order for it to be included. Kansas Hardwood is a free publication and the only way it survives is through sponsorships and advertisements. Then we took our hard and fast rule and threw it out the window — for this year at least. If a coach took the time to fill out a form, we included their team. We depend on the support of coaches, players and their families and fans. On the following pages, you will find features and profiles on many student athletes from this region. We hope you enjoy reading about the young basketball players who help create a sense of community in their towns. Kansas Hardwood is a once-a-year publication. Please let us know if you have suggestions for the 2013-14 edition. Our doors are always open. Linda Mowery-Denning Co-publisher Kansas Hardwood kshardwoodmag@gmail.com

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John Baetz Publisher Co-owner of Sixteen 60 Publishing Co., publishers of Kansas Pregame Football Magazine and Kansas Mat Preview, and The Lincoln Sentinel-Republican and Chapman News-Times weekly newspapers.

Bree McReynolds-Baetz Publisher

Co-owner of Sixteen 60 Publishing Co., publishers of Kansas Pregame Football Magazine and Kansas Mat Preview.

Linda Mowery-Denning Publisher Publisher and Co-owner with Morris Multimedia, Savannah, Ga., of the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter and the Marquette Tribune.

Layout and Design: Advertising — Kayla Kvacik Editorial — Linda Mowery-Denning Sponsorship Sales: John Baetz, Tyler Gier Contributing Writers: Harold Bechard, Matthew Denning, Conor Nicholl, Sandra Stenzel Contributing Photographers: Mark McCoy, Everett Royer, Jim Williams, Michaela Gower Mail questions and comments to kshardwoodmag@gmail.com or to: Kansas Hardwood PO Box 186 Lincoln, KS 67455 (785) 472-5085


Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

What’s Inside

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Faces of Kansas basketball

Page 4 — Basketball’s Ken Cochran has influenced many young players.

Page 5 — Three Central Kansas players will tell you it’s possible to be friends and rivals. Pages 6-12 — Classes 4A, 5A and 6A. Pages 13-19 — Class 3A with features on Phillipsburg’s Sean Newlan and TMP’s Heather Ruder. Pages 20-27 — Class 2A with feature on Jenna Farris of Lincoln. Pages 28-40 — Class 1A with features on Otis-Bison’s Dylan Wissman and Wilson’s Karlie Steinle. Pages 41-44 — Hardwood Extras on WaKeeney’s Clayton Riedel and the amazing Hoxie girls’ team. Page 45 — Kansas State men prepare for a new season and a new coach. Page 46 — KU hopes to go the distance.

EVERETT ROYER, KSportsImages.com

Sharon Springs High School players and fans cheer for their Wildcats during post season play.

ON THE COVER: Clockwise from right: junior Savana Brush of Lakeside High School, Downs, moves the ball against Sara Lanter of Wilson during the 2011-12 season; Landon Cook of Hope defends the ball; Nathan Larson of Thunder Ridge High School, Kensington, pulls down a rebound; and Jennifer Crist, a senior at Lincoln High School, steals the ball from Wilson’s Emily Beneda. Photos by Mark McCoy/Kansas Hardwood.

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

Basketball Legacy Salina’s Coach Ken Cochran

BY LINDA MOWERY-DENNING Kansas Hardwood

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n the downtown Salina warehouse where Ken Cochran conducts his internet game business, the former basketball coach is surrounded by photographs and other memories of a career the Wichita Eagle described in 2005 as a “Legacy of Excellence.” Cochran has mentored some of the greatest names in Kansas basketball. • Ricky Ross, who led his Wichita South High School team to two state titles and played for the University of Kansas and Tulsa, where he averaged 31.9 points a game. • Ryan Robertson, who played for Coach Roy Williams at KU and ended his career overseas. • Greg Dreiling, the 7-foot, 1-inch center from Wichita who played college ball for KU and spent a decade in the National Basketball Association as a backup center for the Indiana Pacers and others. • And, of course, Jackie Stiles, the shooting guard from Claflin, who set numerous scoring records during her career and played for a short time in the Women’s National Basketball Association. These former players are all products of Cochran’s Heart of America sports camp, which during its 41 years has served an estimated 70,000 kids and added greatly to Salina’s summer economy. “I thought there was a need to teach basketball skills to both boys and girls. We started the first girls’ basketball camp, to my knowledge,” Cochran said.

“We didn’t approach them any different than we did the guys. Some of the parents thought it was terrible that we were so demanding with the girls, but they responded well — they wanted to improve their skills.” This day, the phone on Cochran’s desk rings and he answers with, “Pop-A-Shot,” the shooting game he developed in 1982 in the intensive care unit of a Wichita hospital, where he was being treated following a heart attack. Then, in response to a question from the caller, he booms, “Cochran is the name. Basketball is the game.” For sure. Basketball has been Cochran’s game since he attended high school in Joplin, Mo., and lettered in football, tennis, track — and basketball, a game he went on to play at Pittsburg State University. His coaching career started at the high school level and advanced to college, when Salina’s Kansas Wesleyan tapped him as its head coach in 1963. He left the university in 1970 after seven seasons and two conference championships for Marymount College. Cochran was hired to help start a basketball program after the Salina Catholic college became co-ed. He turned Marymount into a basketball powerhouse. Over the next decade, the Spartans won 83.4 percent of their games and went to five national tournaments. Marymount compiled a 106-game home winning steak under Cochran. One of the keys to his success was aggressive recruiting. He started with See COCHRAN, Page 11

COCHRAN HIGHLIGHTS • 1963 — Head basketball coach at Salina’s Kansas Wesleyan. • 1970 — Introduced men’s basketball to the former allwomen Marymount College, a Catholic school in Salina. • 1971 — Marymount became the first member of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to go undefeated in first year of affiliation, 30-0. • 1975 — His Spartans played the Olympic Gold Medal Team from Russia, losing by only three points, in Salina. • 1971 — Founded Heart of America Sports Camps, which were conducted at Marymount College and later Kansas Wesleyan, where they continue today. Heart of America also does clinics for coaches, many of whom help with the student camps. • 1982 — Founded Pop-A-Shot, a coin-operated interactive basketball game, the first ever featured at the Naismith Hall of Fame. • 2005 — Inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.


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Classes 4A, 5A and 6A Friends and Rivals

Central, McPherson players manage to be both BY HAROLD BECHARD special to Kansas Hardwood

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riday night, Nov. 30, can’t come soon enough for Katelyn Loecker, Shaelyn Martin and Emily Wood. It’s the start of the 2012-13 high school basketball season and Loecker’s McPherson Bullpups and the Salina Central Mustangs of Martin and Wood are expected to be two of the top teams in their respective classes — McPherson in 4A and Central in 5A. Here’s the catch. That official opening night of high school basketball will match the Bullpups and Mustangs in Salina in a 6 p.m. start and also bring together three young women who play together on the same summer team, but must put those friendships aside for a couple hours. “It’s going to be different stepping out on the court and playing against each other, but we’ll battle hard when the game is going on, then be friends again afterwards,” said Wood, a 5-foot-5 junior who, like Martin, has started for the Mustangs since her freshman year. Two of the three — Loecker and Martin — have already committed to Division I schools. Loecker, a 6-foot senior, will sign with Oklahoma State on Nov. 14, while Martin, a 6-1 junior, must wait another year before signing with Kansas State. Wood has received interest from the likes of Wichita State, Northern Colorado, Wyoming, Utah State, Boise

Courtesy Photo

Three basketball players from Salina and McPherson are both friends and competitors: No. 44 — Katelyn Loecker; No. 50 — Shaelyn Martin; and No. 10 — Emily Wood.

State, Idaho, Colorado State, Oklahoma State, Harvard, Army and Indiana State. She attended camps at Wichita State and Wyoming this summer and also a point-guard camp in Oklahoma City. “No offers yet, but I’m not worried about that,” she said. “If I continue to work hard and put myself in good situations, things will work out. I believe they will.” Central head coach Geoff Andrews has no doubts about that. “The easiest way to define Emily is gym-rat,” Andrews said. “She makes the most out of any opportunity she has to get in the gym. I would put her up against any person in our school in a shooting contest. She is not your typical point guard that just brings the ball up the court. She is an important part of every set or offense we run. She wants the ball in her hands in

crunch-time. “When Emily came to camp the summer before her freshman year, you could tell she was ready to lead this program at the point guard position.” Wood estimated she played around 50 basketball games this summer. She played for the Eclipse Sparq, which also included Loecker and Wood, plus played in three tournaments with the Central High summer team. And then there was the five-day point-guard college in Oklahoma City. Martin also attended. “It’s one of the best things, basketball-wise, that I’ve ever gone to,” Wood said. “It was basketball and playing basketball, but it was also a ton of learning and classroom time, taking notes and watching film. The course was called “Think The Game,” so it was a lot about that — thinking the game. That was a really,

really neat experience.” Wood averaged a teamleading 12.5 points a game last season for the Mustangs, who posted a 19-4 record and qualified for the Class 5A state tournament before losing in the first round to St. Thomas Aquinas. It was the first state tournament appearance in 26 years for Central and the 19 victories were also a school record. Considering the team started three sophomores and a junior last year, the goals for this season are even higher. “Our goal this year is to play 25 — that’s our theme of the year,” said Martin, who averaged 11.7 points and 9.3 rebounds a game. “We got to state last year, but we want to play 25 games to get to where we want to be.” Wood and Martin have played together since they were fifth graders and Wood said they have “unbelievable chemistry” on the court. The 6-foot-1 Martin is one of the state’s top all-around athletes and has verbally committed to Kansas State even though she can’t sign a national letter of intent until November 2013. “We both know each other so well on and off the court. It’s just a blast to play with her,” Wood said. “It’s really a comforting thing knowing she’s out there.” As good as they’ve been over the last couple seasons, there are few players in the state who have put up the numbers and had the success of Loecker, who helped lead McPherson to a 25-1 record See FRIENDS, Page 12


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Classes 4A, 5A and 6A

Teams gear up for even better year BY HAROLD BECHARD For Kansas Hardwood

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he 2011-12 basketball season was a special one for the Abilene Cowboys of head coach Terry Taylor. They won 22 of their first 23 games to reach the Class 4A State Tournament at the Salina Bicentennial Center. A wave of orange and brown-clad fans made the short drive from Abilene to watch their Cowboys in the state tournament for the first time in 15 years, but the stay in Salina didn’t last long as Fort Scott ended Abilene’s season with a hot-shooting second half to earn a 72-63 victory. The bad news is the season ended two games earlier than the Cowboys wanted, or expected. The good news is

four starters return from that 22-2 team and Abilene is expected to be one of the top teams in 4A again this season. “If offense improves from last year, we could be a very good 4A team,” said head coach Terry Taylor, who is starting his sixth year at AHS. And the offense was pretty darn good a year ago. The team was led by 6-foot-3 guard Andy Wilson, who averaged 17.4 points a game as a junior. Five other players averaged between eight and nine points a game as the Cowboys were known for their chemistry and unselfish play. Wilson has been named first-team All-NCKL as a sophomore and a junior. He will be joined by three other returning starters — 6-8 senior Jacob Harms (8.0

points, 6.0 rebounds), 6-3 junior Keil Kelly (8.0 ppg.) and 6-0 senior guard Matthew Barlow (9.0 ppg.), who was a part-time starter and the first player off the bench. All were honorable mention all-league last year. Taylor said his team’s strengths include: size and perimeter shooters, quickness and speed, ability to play pressure defense and press full court and depth at every position. He said finding team leadership will be one of the keys to the Cowboys’ success this year. The leaders of last year’s 22-2 team, Collin Sexton and Adrian Polk, were lost to graduation. And, while Abilene returns a wealth of experience, the McPherson Bullpups, another team that lost in the first round of the 4A state tournament, has no starters returning.

However, that doesn’t change expectations in a town where basketball is king and trips to the state tournament are expected on an annual basis. “I expect that this team will be very good. We will have great guard play and have a good combination of speed, quickness and size,” said McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon, who is starting his 18th year as the Bullpups coach. “This group had a fantastic summer and I am as excited for this season as I have ever been for a season.” The Bullpups were 18-6 last year. Kinnamon has a career mark of 338-65 at the school and has coached MHS to four state championships. The team is expected to be led by a pair of seniors — 6-4 forward Keaton Sorenson and See BOYS, Page 10

Expections run high for 2012-13 BY HAROLD BECHARD For Kansas Hardwood

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xpectations are always sky-high for McPherson High School basketball, whether it’s the boys or girls. The upcoming 2012-13 season is no different for the Bullpup girls, who return three starters from a 25-1 team that won the Class 4A state championship in Salina last March. The state title was the eighth in school history for the Bullpups and the third under head coach Chris Strathman, who is 139-29

overall as the varsity coach at MHS. McPherson will now try to win back-to-back championships for the third time in history — 1981-82, 1997-9899 — and returns arguably the state’s top player in 6-foot senior center Katelyn Loecker. Loecker, who has signed with Oklahoma State, was named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year during the 2011-12 season as she averaged 16.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 74.8 from the free throw line. Also back are

5-7 senior guard Hailey Ruder (7.0 ppg.) and 5-8 junior guard Abby Pedersen (9.0 ppg.). Junior lettermen Janae Barnes (6-0) and Moira Pyle (5-8) also return. “We hope to be able to compete for championships — league, mid-season tournament, sub-state, and state,” Strathman said. “We have a nice nucleus of returning varsity players, and they will be complemented by JV and freshmen who both had very good years last season as well.” The Bullpups will face a difficult early-season schedule with games against Salina

Central, Washburn Rural, Blue Springs, Mo., Buhler and Mulvane before Christmas. Last year was a recordbreaking one for Salina Central as the Mustangs won the most games in school history (19) and reached the state tournament for the first time in 26 years. More of the same is expected in 2012-13 with Central returning one of the state’s top players in 6-1 junior Shaelyn Martin. Martin, who has verbally committed to Kansas State, averaged 11.7 points and 9.3 rebounds a game. Junior See GIRLS, Page 47


Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

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he Salina South Cougars return their top three scorers from a year that ended with a loss at sub-state finals to Goddard Eisenhower. Returning are: senior Conner Ryan and juniors Justin Stonebraker, both 6-footers, and Ethan Mitchell, 6-3. They will be coached by Matt Renk, who is in his sixth season at South. The green and gold compiled an 8-14 record during the 2011-12 season.

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oach Chris Battin hopes this year surpasses the 2010-11 season, when his Panthers finished with a first-round loss in substate to Salina Central in double overtime. “[Our expectations are to] improve on last year’s record and compete for conference and tournament titles,” Battin said. Returning starters are seniors Ethan Henderson, 6-3 forward; Matt Marshall, 5-11 point guard; and Chad Touslee, 6-4 forward. Battin said the Panthers’ keys to success this season will be to “play hard on both ends of the floor, execute offensively and defensively better and take care of the basketball.” Lady Panthers Coach Jason Tatkenhorst continues his rebuilding efforts this year in the wake of a season that saw his Lady Panthers end the season with a 2-17 record. The good news — his players have an additional year of experience after Great Bend lost seven seniors to graduation prior to the 2011-12 season. Coach Tatkenhorst looks to add to the impressive record he and his teams have compiled at Great Bend — nine straight 15 win seasons, including eight straight seasons atop the Western Athletic Conference and a trip to the Class 5A state title game in 2009.

xpectations are high for the Hays Lady Indians and Coach Kirk Maska is looking for team leaders to pull it all together. “We lost all our leaders to graduation. Finding a point guard also will be important,” he said. Maska, who is in his third year as Hays coach, took his team to a 17-5 season in 2011-12. He predicted that with three returning starters and seven returning seniors, this year’s Indian team could win the Western Athletic Conference championship. Last year, Hays High became the first team in the history of the MidAmercia Classic tournament at McPherson to make the title game as the No. 6 seed. The Lady Indians lost to powerhouse McPherson, 52-42. Returning Hays players include Katelyn Schumacher, a 5-10 senior forward, who received All-State recognition. Other returning players: Taylor Herman, 5-11 senior forward; Janae Gagnon, 5-5 senior guard; Megan Bird, 5-6 senior guard; Kaitlin Gulley, 5-6 senior guard; Emily Braun, 5-9 senior forward; April Johnson, 5-6 senior guard. Indians Rick Keltner enters his 28th season

as the Hays High boys’ basketball coach and is the Indians’ all-time winningest coach with 352 wins. Including his time at Tipton, Keltner has coached for more than 35 years and has won more than 400 games. He has four state tournament appearances and three Final Fours with Hays High. Last year, the Indians had zero seniors for the first time in Keltner’s career and finished 6-15, the first losing record in 12 years. Senior Derek Bixenman returns after he led the team in scoring with 10.6 points, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Bixenman, who missed all of his sophomore season because of a knee injury, earned first team allWestern Athletic Conference honors. He was the lone HHS player named to the 10-member all-WAC squad. “It’s going to be so much fun to watch these guys develop,” Keltner said. Bixenman sunk a team-high 35 3-pointers, some of them from NBA range. Several people in the program likened Bixenman’s range to former Brigham Young All-American Jimmer Fredette. Hays High also returns junior swingman Jordan Windholz and sophomore forward Brady Werth. Senior Adam Deterding, a 6-3 forward recruited by multiple Kansas schools for football and track, returns to the court after not playing last year.

Lady Cougars Salina South came close to a substate championship during the 2011-12 season and the Cougars return four starters from that team, including their three leading scorers, seniors Megan Holloway, 5-9 guard; Janai Mitchell, 6-0 post; and Cassidy Cook, 5-11 forward. Others who could make a difference for the Lady Cougars are: senior McKenzie Haynes, 5-9 guard; sophomore Emilee Holloway, 5-6 guard; and senior Emily Webb, 5-6 guard. Their coach is Jason Hooper, who will start his seventh year as the girls’ basketball coach at South. He is 84-47 during his time there, going 11-11 this past season. “We take great pride in our defense,” Hooper said. “This team will continue to defend, but a major key for success will be our ability to score the ball consistently. We return a majority of our scoring from a year ago, so this should be something that improves this year.” Coach Hooper said he expects his players to be “very competitive” in their league and be contenders for post season competition down the stretch.

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Abilene Cowboys

eventy-six percent of the Cowboys’ scoring returns for the 2012-13 season, when Abilene lost to Fort Scott at state. Returning is Andy Wilson, a 6-3 senior guard who has been named to the league’s first team for the past two seasons. He averages 17.4 points a game. Wilson is joined by returning starters Matthew Barlow, 6-0 senior guard; Jacob Harms, 6-8 senior post; and Keil Kelly, 6-3 junior guard. All received all-league honorable mention. Terry Taylor, in his sixth season as head coach, said his team’s strengths include: size and perimeter shooters, quickness and speed, ability to play pressure defense and press full court, depth at every position. In addition, Wilson is the second leading scorer in the North Central Kansas League and Harms and Wilson are among the league’s top 10 rebounders. Taylor said finding team leadership will be one of the keys to the

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Cowboys’ success this year. The leaders of last year’s 22-2 team, Collin Sexton and Adrian Polk, were lost to graduation. The Cowboys must also improve their defense. Abilene gave up almost 47 points per game last year. And, “if offense improves from last year, we could be a very good 4A team,” Taylor said. Cowgirls This year will be a blancing act for the Abilene Cowgirls. They will have to counter their lack of size with aggressive, smart and team basketball, said Janelle Geist, who is in her seventh year as Abilene’s head coach. Returning from last year’s 13-9 team will be: seniors Carly Gassman, 5-7 guard; Kurstin Guy, 5-8 forward; Grace Sexton, 5-7 wing; and Kiley Crider, 5-8 wing. Geist said she has two goals for her team — “to finish in the top two teams in the league and have a deep run into the post season.”

Chapman Irish

oach Sara Cook has some definite goals for this year’s Lady Irish: shoot 65 percent from the free throw line and 40 percent from the field, seven or more steals per game and holding opponents to less than 45 points a game or a field goal percentage of 32 or less. “We have a group of girls who put in quite a bit of time this summer to prepare for the upcoming season,” Cook said. “We have a solid group of underclassmen that are aggressive and ready to contribute. Our juniors and sophomores received a lot of experience at the varsity level last year as we are looking for them to step up and be leaders of our program, along with two-year letter-winner, senior Jordan Woods.” Woods, who received honorable mention in the North Central Kansas All-League, will be joined by returning lettermen juniors Morgan Beemer, Faith Decker, Vanessa Lovett and Rachel Sutter and sophomores Lindsey Hurford and Milea Anderson. The team’s freshman members were part of a middle school eighth grade team that went undefeated last year. “They also worked very hard this

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summer to improve their skill level,” Cook said. “There is a lot of opportunity for our girls to improve throughout the course of the season and our practices should be very competitive ... “As a coaching staff, we are going to be looking for those girls that work the hardest and are the most consistent in practice. One key to our success this season is going to be our defensive intensity. If we can be tough defensively and not give up second-chance opportunities, we will have a successful season. We also want to be more consistent on the offensive end of the court.” Irish Senior leadership will be crucial to the Chapman boys this season. Returning starters will be seniors Zach Heiman, 6-6 power forward; Kyle Anderson, 6-5 point guard; and Logan Lehmkuhl, a 5-8 guard. The Irish went 11-11 last season and survived the first round of sub-state. “We are looking to build on what we accomplished last season,” said Coach Tony Ingram. “Consistency and conditioning are our main focus early in the season ... We return our core players in Anderson and Heiman.”

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epth and balance describe the Lady Tigers. “In the past we had one or two players getting the majority of the shots, where this season, we could have a different leading scorer every night,” said Mike Rothfuss, a five-year veteran Clay Center coach. Returning players include: seniors Alyx Bloom, 5-5 guard; Alyssa Steppe, 5-6 guard; Holly Cooper, 5-7 forward; Nicole DeMars, 5-5 guard; and Rebecca Kleinkauf, 5-4 guard; junior Katie Folks, 5-7 forward; and sophomores Mackenzie Edmundson, 5-8 forward; Macey Dieckmann, 5-11 forward; Macy Franson, 5-9 guard/forward; Kelsey Jones 5-9 forward; Emily Ebert, 5-8 forward; Lorren Williams, 5-4 guard; and Morgan Slagle, 5-1 guard. “Our expectation is that in whatever role you have, you will play as hard as you can,” said Rothfuss, who led his Lady Tigers to an 11-11 season in 2011-12. “We expect our players to show up with a good attitude and the willingness to learn and improve each day.” He pointed to the ability of this year’s seniors to be leaders. “I think every senior girl leads in a different way,” Rothfuss said. “It varies from being outspoken to players leading by example.” Tigers Clay Center’s 6-15 record for the 2011-12 season doesn’t reflect the close games the Tigers played — nor is it an accurate reflection of their ability and strength. “However, wins and losses are how all teams are measured so I expect us to win at least 12-15 games this year and possibly more, depending on how our team gels as the season progresses,” said Zac Malcolm, who is in his fourth year as Tiger coach. Clay Center will have four returning starters, seniors Caleb Carson, 6-2 forward; Dalton Haist, 6-6 forward; Ryan Blake, 6-0 guard; and Jordan Bosch, 6-2 guard. Malcolm said the team’s road to success is paved with better defense. “Last year as a team we averaged 50 points a game offensively. They only problem was that we gave up 57 a game,” he said. “Part of that is the style of game we play, which is an up tempo style. We need to cut down on easy baskets for our opponents.”

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Colby Eagles

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arker McKee, a Colby graduate, has led the Lady Eagles to five straight winning seasons in his first five years with the program. He is 88-25 with the Eagles and has never won fewer than 13 games in any season. In his first year, he inherited a senior-laden squad that had just won the state championship and went 24-2 with a fourth place finish in Class 4A. Then, he continued to win with young teams for two years. Three seasons ago, Colby went 21-3 and lost in the first round of the state tournament. Last year, the Eagles finished 13-7. Colby is known for playing a slowdown, defensive-minded style that has fit its personnel, but McKee could have several changes this year. “We don’t really care if we win 28-30, a win is a win in our book,” he said. He returns three starters in 5-11 senior center Karly Kriss, 5-10 senior forward Lauren Bell and 5-8 senior guard Kenzie Curry. McKee stressed staying out of foul trouble as a key for the season. Junior Haleigh Shull and senior McKenna Ortner were key reserves last year and will step into a bigger role this winter. Despite not being a regular starter last winter, Shull earned all-Northwest Kansas League honorable mention. Eagles Colby fans can look forward to a David and Goliath season this year as boys’ coach Jarod Johnson expects his undersized team to out run a few giants. It’s a rebuilding year for Johnson, who is starting his third year as the Eagle’s coach. “We went 2-18 each year the last two years, but this year I expect we’ll do a whole lot better.” Adjusting to new systems and combating size challenges do not discourage Johnson or his team. Johnson said, “The kids are excited for this year and so am I.” Colby will also get a boost from experience, returning five seniors and seven juniors. “This year we have a great group of upperclassmen. Our expectation is for these guys to give us increased poise and especially leadership.” Returning starters Todd Kane, a 6-foot-1 guard, and 6-foot-2 junior on the inside, are the tallest players on the team. Others returning are Luke Cox, Zane Winger, and Daniel Myers, with 6-foot Wyatt Binder expected to help out in the paint.

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ichael Wahlmeier steps into his second year as head coach of the Lady Panthers. Returning a senior and junior into the starting line-up, Concordia’s girls can hopefully rebound from a dismal 2-19 record from the season before. Right now coach Michael Wahlmeier is just focused on improving everyday. “Positive leadership from our returning players and quick development from our younger players,” is key to improving says coach Wahlmeier. Returning players: Katie Lambert, 5-10 senior; Megan James, 5-8 junior; Molly Adams, 5-10 sophomore; Tristen Leiszler, 5-5 sophomore. Panthers Michael Rose will be in his first year as head coach at Concordia, but with five seasons as an assistant coach, he’s no stranger to the players or the school. He brings that experience and a record of 25-18 he compiled during two years at the Jetmore helm. “My expectations are that we’ll better last year’s 15-6 record by running multiple offenses, like 4 out and 1 in or 3 out and 2 in. We also intend to dictate games with our defense and then pressure their defense with our offense. We’re going to be tough to stop on offense.” Four starters return, including seniors Alan Garcia, Gabe Bergmann, Josh Pounds and Grant Holms. They’ll also add returning senior letterman Nathan Gieber. Rose said the key to Concordia’s success will be defense. “It’s our driving force and getting stops will be the key to how games go. We’ll win or lose on stops.” Rose also said the Panthers are “looking for someone to step into the rebounding role. That will also be key in getting the W’s,” he said.

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he Cowboys return four starters, including Gage Ihrig, a 5-10 junior guard/ forward and “one of the best shooters in Western Kansas,” according to his coach, Donald Raymer. He is joined by Gunner Helton, 5-11 senior guard/forward; Gannon Ihrig, 5-9 junior point guard; and Taylen Smith, 6-3 junior post. “We return a lot of experience from last year,” Raymer said. “Outside the four guys returning as starters, we have three other players that had significant playing time. I feel we will be very competitive throughout the season, but moving to Class 4A, predictions will have to wait.” The Cowboys moved from 3A. Cowgirls Coach Andy Schoepner has a long career in basketball coaching, spanning 14 years, most of which he spent in northwest Kansas. This is his fourth year coaching the Goodland women. After a tough 0-21 season last year, he’s looking forward to this year being their best season yet. “I can’t wait for this new season to start,” he said. Experience will be the key for the team, as Coach Schoepner is returning 10 of 12 lettermen including three of last year’s starters, Hope Cochran, Megan Siruta, and Brianna White. He was also expecting Brianna’s twin sister, Berkley White, to be a returning starter, but she was injured during volleyball season and will have to sit out the basketball season. The Cowgirls will also get help from expected starter Paige Phillips. “We are going to be deep this year with all our experienced players,” Schoepner said, adding that “we also have some size this year with some six footers coming in.” He believes that size, coupled with speed out front will give the team balance, another key to their expected success. “We can run pretty well, and then we can also slow the ball down and pound it inside. That makes us a well balanced threat.” The coach says his team already plays great defense, and if they “can pick it up on offense and score, we should be in the mix for substate and maybe even state.” He thinks they also have a good shot at the league title in the Great Western Athletic Conference, so expectations are running high.

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ith only one returning starter and a new coaching staff, the Lady Vikings will have to depend on the play of upperclassmen for success this year. “We will have to rely heavily on our upperclassmen to carry our team,” said coach Bill Nelson. “The girls worked hard this summer to implement our new program.” Junior Hannah McBride, a 5-3 point guard, is the returning starter from a team that in 2011-12 logged a record of 7-14 and lost in the first round of sub-state to Maize South. Nelson, a 24-year coaching veteran, was assistant boys’ coach at Smoky Valley for 10 years before taking over the girls’ program this year. He was the girls’ head coach at Buhler High School for three years before that. Vikings Doug Schneider leads the Vikings into the 2012-2013 as a second-year head coach. Smoky Valley lost in the sub-state semi-finals a year ago to Buhler, and finished their season 2 games over .500 with a 12-10 record. “Our expectations are always that we get the most out of our players,” said coach Doug Schneider. “I think our team can really surprise a number of people.” The Vikings lost some strong players from the year before, and will have to rely on younger players to step up and fill the void. Coach Schneider plans on relying on an inside-out game to get the ball to his senior center as much as possible. “When we can get the ball inside to our lanky post players we can be very tough to handle. We will also rely strongly on our defense, and we must come together early to complement each other and play to our strengths.” Returning players: Holden Hendricks, 6-3 senior; Andy Osner, 6-3 senior; Briton Hawk, 6-0 senior.

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

McPherson Junction Manhattan Central City Bullpups Indians Mustangs

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f you ask almost anyone in the state of Kansas about high school basketball, certain schools immediately come to mind. McPherson is one of those schools. With a rich tradition of success, this year looks to be no different for the Lady Bullpups. Coming off a 4A state championship last year headed by the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, Katelyn Loecker, McPherson has its eyes set on winning more championships this season. “We hope to be able to compete for championships — league, midseason tournament, sub-state, and state championships,” said eighth year head coach Chris Strathman. The biggest tests for the Lady Bullpups all look to come in the first half of their season. McPherson will play Salina Central, Washburn Rural, and Blue Springs, Mo. — all before Christmas. “Blue Springs has played for the last four Class 5 championships in Missouri. We will play them at the Hy-Vee Classic in Kansas City on Dec. 14,” Stratham said. “We also have Buhler and Mulvane before Christmas. Those two will likely be our most difficult league opponents.” Returning players: Katelyn Loecker, 6-0 senior; Hailey Ruder, 5-7 senior; Abby Pedersen, 5-8 junior.

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mprovement is the word of the season for Pat Battle and his Blue Jays. In 2010-11, Junction City went 6-15, finishing with a trip to substate, where it lost to Wichita Heights in the fist round. “Despite our challenging schedule, we expect to be more competitive than last season,” Battle said. “We will be looking to our returning lettermen to make us a deeper team.” Returning starters are: seniors Eric Steppan, 6-0 center; Cedric Johnson, 6-4 power forward; and Darius Redrick, 6-1 guard. Returning letterman are: senior Frank Johnston, 6-1 forward; and juniors Semaj Johnson, 6-3 center, and Jonathan Wilds, 5-8 guard. “We play teams that are bigger than us,” Battle said. “We will need to do a better job on both the offensive and defensive boards. We also will have to do a better job of attacking the basket and shooting a better free throw percentage. “Defensively, we will have to improve our transition defense and limit our opponents scoring opportunities inside. We are fast so we will need to push the tempo and make the game faster.”

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oach Tim Brooks said his Indians will be small on the inside; however, he looks for “great” leadership from the senior class and “quality production” from the 2011-12 junior varsity team, which lost only three games last season. Varsity compiled a 9-12 record this past season, losing in the first round of substate. Returning starters are: seniors Jonathon Taylor, 6-1 point guard, and Jacob Holloway, 6-1 guard; and sophomore Payton Stephens, 6-3 forward.

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Bullpups The Bullpups have no returning starters from its 18-6 team from last year; however, Kurt Kinnamon still expects McPherson to be tough. Kinnamon’s record is 363-81 during his 17 years at McPherson. “I expect that this team will be very good,” he said. “We will have great guard play and have a good combination of speed, quickness and size ... We must avoid injury and foul trouble as our depth is unproven. I feel like our first seven players have enough experience and ability to be very solid.”

Boys Continued from Page 6 and 5-10 sophomore Kyle Kinnamon, who was the team’s top reserve last year as a freshman and averaged over six points a game. “We must avoid injury and foul trouble because right now our depth is unproven,” Coach Kinnamon said. “I feel like our first seven players have enough experience and ability to be a very solid team.

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he Lady ‘Stangs enter the 2012-2013 season as a serious contender for the 5A state championship. Central returns five starters — four juniors and one senior. Fourth-year coach Geoff Andrews brings back a team that went 19-4 last season, with a sub-state championship, and a No. 2 seed going into the 5A state tournament. After an upset in the state tournament, Salina Central comes into this season with something to prove “Expectations are big for our team again this season,” Andrews said. “Last season we had the best season in program history, as far as wins goes. We want to follow up and build on last year’s success. Getting to state last year and not winning really left a bitter taste in our players’ mouths.” A key to success will be team chemistry. Losing two seniors in Maddy Shetlar and Tionna Trarbach will be hard to replace. “Those two did so much for our team off the court, and will be greatly missed,” said coach Geoff Andrews. “We are going to have to have some girls step up and provide the leadership we need.” Returning players: “Shaelyn Martin, 6-1 junior; Emily Wood, 5-5 junior; Gabby Briggs, 5-7 senior; MacKenzie Morris, 5-6 junior; Hailey Mayfield, 5-0 junior. Mustangs Disappointing overtime losses have been the rule for Central the past three years. Coach Doug Finch, who has more wins than any other boys’ coach in more than three decades, will return two, threeyear starters, senior Mark Vaughn and junior Treyton Hines. Vaughn was Central’s leading rebounder a year ago with 7.3 a game. The Mustangs 2011-12 record was 13-9, losing in a sub-state final to Liberal in overtime.

We will have to develop depth throughout the season.” Doug Finch begins his ninth year as head coach at Salina Central. The Mustangs have finished above .500 six consecutive years. With 96 wins at Central, Finch has more wins than any Central boys coach in the last 35 years. Mustangs had a series of tough luck post season finishes in three of the last four years. They lost last year’s sub-state final in overtime to Liberal; lost in the sub-state title game in 2011 on a last-

second shot by Emporia and lost on last-second shot in overtime in the 5A state semifinals to eventual champion Highland Park in 2009. Central, 13-9 a year ago, returns senior Mark Vaughn (12.3 ppg.) and junior Treyton Hines (8.9 ppg.), who will both be three-year starters this season. Vaughn will be playing varsity for the fourth consecutive year, coming off the bench as a freshman. Hines made 38 3-pointers, while junior Max Kuhn (4.6 ppg.) gives them another 3-point threat off the bench, shooting 43 percent

(18 of 42) behind the arc. Vaughn was the team’s leading rebounder a year ago at 7.3 per game. Central also returns 6-4 senior starter Justin Bengtson, who averaged 3.0 points and 3.8 rebounds. Salina South will begin its sixth season with Matt Renk as head coach. The Cougars won their first post season game since 2006 last season, but lost in the sub-state finals to Goddard Eisenhower to finish 8-14. See BOYS, Page 11


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Kansas players, but the competition was stiff, especially for small colleges like Marymount. “We are so inundated with colleges in this state, which is not all wrong, but everybody can’t play at KU or K-State or Emporia or even Kansas Wesleyan,” Cochran said. He reached out to other places, including the East Coast, to find players. He also offered better scholarships than many of his competitors. Other coaches learned from Cochran. “I first met Coach Cochran when I was in high school and attended his day camp at Salina,” said Pat Stiles, long-time basketball coach at Claflin High School and the father of Jackie Stiles. “My high school coach, Marion Ogden, encouraged us to attend his camp, because he played for Coach Cochran in college. My next meeting with Coach Cochran occurred when I played against his Marymount teams in college. His teams were so impressive, especially how hard he got them to play on defense.” At 79, Cochran is retired from coaching and he is not as involved in his Heart of America camps as he once was; however, he continues to champion the principles he taught generations of basketball players. “Heart of America has always been a blue collar camp,” he said. “We’ve always been unique in that we’ve always stressed defense. The highest award you can get at the Heart of America camp is the outstanding defensive player of the week.” Cochran said Jackie Stiles was the best player ever to attend one of his camps. She started in one of his small fry camps at age 8 and continued through high school. Cochran said Stiles’ work ethic is what made her an outstanding player. “We take a lot of pride in that. We’ve had a lot of great players, but most of the kids are just players who want to improve their skills,” Cochran said. “A lot of coaches wanted their kids to come here because it is a highly disciplined camp. Our main thrust was skill development. That’s what we’re all about.” Pat Stiles said all four of his children attended the camps and were able to play college athletics because of the work ethic and discipline they learned from Coach Cochran. “He has dedicated a large portion of his life making kids better individuals on and off the court. He is a legend in central Kansas,” Stiles said. Linda Mowery-Denning is editor-publisher of the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter. She has covered Kansas politics and other state issues for more than 30 years. Her e-mail address is ldenning@eaglecom.net.

Continued from Page 10 South returns its top three scorers in senior Conner Ryan (12.8 ppg.), 6-3 junior Ethan Mitchell (8.9 ppg., 6.5 rpg.) and 6-0 junior Justin Stonebraker (7.5 ppg.). One of those three players led South in scoring in 21 of their 22 games. Senior Kaleb Renk and junior Ryan Fox also return and both made some starts. Renk averaged 3.9 points per game and Fox 3.0. Senior Nathan Kroeker and junior Aaron Mar also return. Both were among the first players off the bench a year ago. One of the goals for the Cougars this season will be to play better away from home. They were 5-4 in their own gym, but just 3-10 on road and neutral courts. Michael Roe is the new head coach at Concordia High after being an assistant under Brandon Rice for five years. He inherits a team that returns four starters from a team that was 16-6 a year ago and one that is expected to challenge Abilene for supremacy in the NCKL. “We have a veteran group of players who have played a lot of basketball,” Roe said. “Working hard and playing together will be keys for us to have success.” Grant Holmes, a 6-4 junior, averaged 16.0 points a game last year for the Panthers. Gabe Bergmann, a 6-4 senior, averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a contest. Also returning is 6-0 senior Alan Garcia (5.0 ppg.) and 5-9 senior Josh Pounds (5.0 apg.), along with lettermen Nathan Gieber, Cooper Holmes, Zach Hibbs and Kaleb Pounds. Great Bend, Junction City, Manhattan and Hays will be all looking to improve on disappointing seasons last year. Great Bend finished 6-15 last year after losing to Salina Central in double overtime at the 5A sub-state tournament. Head coach Chris Battin returns three starters — 5-11 senior Matt Marshall, 6-4 senior Chad Touslee and 6-3 senior Ethan Henderson. Junction City was also 6-15 last year under first-year head coach Pat Battle, who returns three starters — 6-2 senior Eric Steppan, 6-4 senior Cedric Johnson and 6-1 senior Darious Redick. “After a year in the new system, our players will be more comfortable,” Battle said. “Despite our challenging schedule, we expect to be more competitive than last season. We will be looking to our returning lettermen to make us a deeper team.” Those lettermen include 6-1 senior Frank Johnston, 6-1 senior Semaj Johnson, 6-3 junior Frank Johnston and 5-8 junior Jonathan Wilds. The Manhattan Indians of head coach Tim Brooks were 9-12 last year and return three starters. Payton Stephens, a 6-3 sophomore, averaged 6.0 points a game; 6-1 guard Jonathan Taylor will run the offense and looking to get the ball to streaky shooter Jacob Holloway, a 6-1 senior. The Indians will be undersized in most games and will look to last year’s JV team, which lost just three games, to add depth to the roster.


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Continued from Page 5 and Class 4A state championship last year. She was named the 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas after averaging 16.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 74.8 from the free throw line. Now, just what plans does Loecker have for an encore? “Just going to the gym and working hard,” she said. “There’s always room for improvement. I leave what happened in the past, in the past. It’s a new year and a new team. We’ll see what happens.” Loecker scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out five assists in the state tournament opener against Girard, but went down with a sprained ankle early in the semifinals against Bonner Springs. She wasn’t at full strength in the final against unbeaten Holton, but still helped the Bullpups end Holton’s 51-game winning streak and win the state title at Salina’s Bicentennial Center. “The last two years, she’s been our go-to kid,” McPherson head coach Chris Strathman said after Loecker was named to the Wichita Eagle’s All-State first team. “A lot of responsibility has been on her shoulders, and she just handles it so well, just the expectations and knowing that she’s going to get the opponent’s best shot every game and get all their attention.” The state tournament in Salina was a new experience for Loecker and her teammates. Their previous state tournament experiences had been at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka when McPherson was a 5A school. “For me, it was more intense at the Bicentennial Center because

the crowd was closer to the court,” said Loecker, who has scored 1,109 career points at MHS. “I liked that. It just felt like a louder atmosphere.” Loecker said her main goal heading into her senior season is getting stronger physically. After all, the challenge of Big 12 Conference competition is just a year away. “I try to get in the gym on weekends during the volleyball season” she said. “Right now, I’m trying to get stronger. I’m working in the weight room a lot.” Although she is listed as a forward at McPherson High, Loecker spends most of her time inside for the Bullpups, yet, she is given the green light by Strathman to shoot the 3-pointer. She said the Oklahoma State coaching staff told her she’ll either play at the four (power forward) or three (small forward) positions for the Cowgirls. Loecker has proven to be an allaround player, averaging 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals a game as a junior. But, right now, Oklahoma State can wait. There’s still a senior season to complete and another state championship to chase after. At McPherson, the goal is always reaching the state tournament and playing for a title. “Living in McPherson and growing, you looked up to the older kids and strived to be like them,” Loecker said. “I think that’s where we all get our competitive edge, too, growing up in McPherson; kind of the smalltown thing, banding together.” McPherson will travel to Salina to face Central on Nov. 30. It’s a challenge Loecker relishes even though she will be facing two good friends wearing maroon and white. “I like that competition,” she said. “No matter what happens, it will be good practice to pre-

pare for what we’ll face down the road.” Loecker also took the time to give a small scouting report on both Martin and Wood. On Martin: “She’s very good at driving to the basket and making plays, and brings a lot of energy to the table. She has a very competitive edge to her.” On Wood: “She gives 100 percent on the court no matter what. She has a great shot. They’ll both be tough for us to handle.” Both players have started from day one at Central as freshmen. “Coming in as a freshman, obviously you’re not one of the older players and naturally not a leader right away,” Wood said. “But, I think now, obviously, and even last year, I feel like Shaelyn and I are the leaders of the team and the ones people look to on and off the court. I’ve put a lot of time in lifting weights, shooting at the gym and feel like my overall game has gotten a lot better. “ That could be trouble for opposing teams. One of the weaknesses of the Mustangs has been outside shooting, but Wood and Martin both are working to improve that area of their game. Even though Martin plays inside most of the time for the Mustangs, she was a perimeter player on her summer team. “I’ve kind of struggled with that the last couple years because I’ve always been able to get to the basket by driving,” Martin said. “I’ve kind of relied on that, but now I need to step it up and hit some outside shots. In the summer, I usually don’t have to play any post, but as my real role on the high school team, I have to be in the post a lot. So, I need to make the adjustment between summer team and school team. “The main thing is my outside shot and gaining some confidence in it. I need to take some

shots in games and build my confidence because they know I can drive to the basket and that will give me enough room to shoot.” Central head coach Geoff Andrews is confident Martin will get the job done. “Shaelyn is a very versatile player, and can play any position on the floor for us, as well as guard any position,” Andrews said. “At 6-1, you do not see a lot of players leading their team in assists, but her court vision is incredible. She has led us in major statistical categories as a freshman and sophomore. She understands where her weaknesses lie in her game and has worked on those aspects since last spring to improve. “She has started since day one at Central. She was able to come in as a freshman and have an immediate impact on our program.” “That was kind of a big thing for both of us, to come in as freshmen and have pretty big roles on the team,” Martin said. “Last year, our leadership role increased.” And it produced the best season in school history. Now, the Mustang duo is hoping the 201213 season becomes the most successful in school history. “I’m really excited,” Wood said. “I think there’s just a really good energy around the program and what we did last year and hopefully we’ll build on that this year.” Martin and Wood have been two of the big reasons for the success of the Central program and are doing their best to keep the ball rolling once they have graduated. “Emily and Shaelyn also help to build our program,” Andrews said. “They coach our current seventh graders traveling team. They are great role models for them.”


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hillipsburg senior Sean Newlan is one of Kansas’ top allaround athletes. He was the Panthers’ starting quarterback for three seasons and won four state track titles in the last two years. Multiple schools, including Kansas State, Pittsburg State and Nebraska-Kearney, want Newlan for either one or both sports. Newlan has considered becoming a football player, track athlete or both in college. With the emphasis on football and track, Newlan sometimes doesn’t have much time for basketball. The majority of the summer is spent preparing for football. Newlan played in one basketball camp last summer. Still, he tries to work on his game whenever he can. “When you are at home, you are bored and you have got nothing to do on a Saturday night or a Sunday evening, you go out and you work on your game a little bit, work on your ballhandling a little bit, shoot a couple of jumpers,” Newlan said. “Just little stuff like that to stay tuned.” Even with little practice time, Newlan’s overall athleticism has made him one of the top Class 3A players in Northwest Kansas. “Cream of the crop as far as size and ability,” Phillipsburg coach Keith Sides said. Newlan has started since his sophomore year and played significantly as a freshman.

Photo courtesy MICHAELA GOWER/Phillipsburg High School

Sean Newlan jumps above a defender at Phillipsburg.

After he earned all-MidContinent League honorable mention honors as a sophomore, Newlan collected first team last season. Able to play inside and out, the 6-2, 195pound Newlan averaged 16 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.9 assists for an 8-13 team. “He has got it all together and he is going to continue to get better,” Sides said. Newlan had played guard in the past, but is expected to

move inside this winter for a talented and experienced Panther squad. Newlan is also one of the team’s better ballhandlers and may have to play some on the wing, too. He leads a group that includes seniors Seth Derr, Justin Juenemann, Tad Thompson and Grant Wickham. Derr, the point guard, averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 assists, 3.3 steals for a team that averaged 55.4 points a contest.

“We have got all the talent,” Newlan said. “We’ve got the big, athletic guys down low with Grant Wickham and Ian Chestnut, and I can also play down low, and we have got outstanding guards in Seth Derr, Justin Juenemann, Tad Thompson and myself. We have got all the athletes. Now, it’s just a matter of finding that mesh point, finding that combination that goes out there and wins a game.” In 2008-09, the Panthers finished 16-6 with guard Dylan Frantz and power forward Ben Suchsland, who averaged 17.8 and 11.8 points per contest, respectively. Frantz went on to play at Hutchinson Community College and Missouri Western State University. After that, the Panthers have posted eight, nine and eight win seasons. Newlan believes this season’s squad has more balance than the Frantz-led teams. “Frantz, he had an incredible work ethic, but he was basically the team,” Newlan said. “He put them on their backs and carried them a long ways. I feel now that we are more diversified and we have several athletes. “We know our roles, and we know what each other can do,” Newlan added. “We have a good combination. We feel for each other as if we knew what each other was thinking, before the play even happens, so I feel with that combination and with that bond, we could go pretty far and have a pretty successful season, but you never See NEWLAN, Page 19


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Ruder’s quickness defines her floor style

BY CONOR NICHOLL cnicholl1@gmail.com

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enior Heather Ruder hasn’t changed through a recordbreaking middle school cross country/track career and three-plus seasons of cross country, basketball and track at Thomas More Prep-Marian. She is the most accomplished TMP cross country/track athlete in school history and has started virtually every game for a Monarch basketball program that is 86-12 in the last four seasons. That includes a Class 3A state title in 2009-10 and a fourth place finish in 2010-11. Last year, TMP finished 19-4 and lost to Beloit in the sub-state championship game. Ruder has maintained her metronomic consistency. Ruder gives full effort in all three sports all the time and is always quick to praise her teammates and opponents before herself. An outstanding student, Ruder doesn’t have a shred of cockiness and continually works hard. It’s produced eight track state titles, a state cross country crown as a sophomore and back-to-back first team all-league selections in basketball. “She doesn’t like to let people know she can do what she does,” veteran TMP cross Photo courtesy of TMP-Marian country/track coach Heather Ruder control the ball during a game against Matt Dumler said. “I DeSoto in the 2010-11 season. think that’s probably what is most important. She handles herself very well. There are kids, if they have her abilities, they would let you know that they were good, they were going to beat you. She is just low key, down to earth, just an all-around good kid. It’s never

changed.” This winter, Ruder will have little supporting cast for the first time in her career. Plus, longtime girls’ basketball coach Alan Billinger, the architect of a massive rebuilding job, retired. Billinger took a program that went winless the year prior and led the Monarchs to a 171-81 record with nine straight league titles. Rose McFarland took over after she coached at multiple programs, including TMP. Ruder averaged 12.1 points, four assists, three steals and 1.5 rebounds a game, and shot 51 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3-point range and 78 percent on free throws as a junior. Known for her quick hands, feet and intelligence, she is an outstanding defensive player, who averaged 1.5 steals as a freshman and 2.8 steals as a sophomore. “To me, Heather is just one of those little floor generals,” Billinger said. “She’s a very exciting ballplayer to watch, because she loves defense.” At Kennedy Middle School, Ruder was the team’s top player in eighth grade. Billinger started her early as a freshman and she averaged 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds and rarely left the floor, especially at state. Ruder played well at sub-state when Kaylee Hoffman, now at NCAA Division I University of Wyoming, went down with a knee injury. “She is blending in so well with those girls and she plays much more aggressive,” Billinger said when Ruder was a freshman. “What I like about her is her defense. She is really on the ball ... She is a very unselfish ball player and she has probably got the best peripheral vision of anybody on the team.” The next year, Billinger called Ruder probably the team’s most consistent practice player in preseason. She maintained the high level throughout the winter. Ruder improved her dribbling and quickness and averaged 6.5 points and 1.9 rebounds a game. Her defense helped the Monarchs hold opponents to 40.5 points a contest. Last year, Ruder saw an uptick in her 3-point shooting and was part of the See RUDER, Page 19


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oach Dallas Cox always has high expectations for his Beloit Lady Trojans. Only time will tell whether his relatively inexperienced team will rise to the challenge. The Lady Trojans return two players from last year’s team: Kaley Brockelman, 5-9 guard, forward and center; and Shaylyn Krone, 5-3 forward and center. Neither started during the 2011-12 season. Cox said the key to success this year is “being able to achieve at a high level quickly. Being so young — staying positive and learning their roles will be key.” Cox has coached at Beloit for 11 years and has a 159-34 record.

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enior Josh Bahr, a 6-0 forward, is the only returning starter, but that doesn’t diminish coach Kevin Haxton’s expectations for his young Bearcats. “My expectations for this year’s team are as high as they are any other year,” he said. “We only have one returning starter, but I expect everyone to come in ready to compete on a daily basis. We need to develop into a team that is prepared to win big games by the end of the year.” Ellsworth finished the 2010-11 season with a record of 9-12. The ‘Cats ended the season with a first round sub-state loss to Lincoln. Haxton said the keys to success this season “are to be more productive on the offensive end of the floor. We can’t waste possessions with turnovers. We also need to continue to take pride in our defense.” Lady Bearcats This year’s Lady Bearcats are loaded with talent and experience. Coach Ken Cravens returns 11 veterans, including last year’s starters, seniors Brenn Cravens, 5-7 guard, Whitney Williams, 5-9 forward and Lainey Dunn, 5-10 forward; juniors Halle Connally, 5-9 guard, and Kailee Landon, 5-5 guard; and sophomore Connor Davis, 5-9 forward. The Lady ‘Cats finished the 2011-12 season with a 6-15 record. Cravens has higher expectations for this year. His goals are to have the ‘Cats in the running for a league title and earning a spot at state following sub-state competition. The challenges? “To compete injury free, to rebound the ball better and to shoot a higher percentage from the field,” Cravens said. He also will look for growth from underclassmen “to challenge and compete at a higher level, day in and day out.” Others who could contribute to the success of the Lady ‘Cats this season are: senior Marissa Bland, 5-5 guard; junior Maycee Jones, 5-7 forward; and sophomores Aubrey Hawks, 5-5 guard, Shannon Keith 5-8 forward, and Taylor Dunn-5-6 forward.

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oach Wayne Sager knows his Lady Trojans will miss the players his team lost to graduation this past school year; however, he also knows his team has a good foundation on which to build. Southeast of Saline returns three starters, senior Heather Cleveland, 5-8 post; Calli Calahan, 5-5 guard; and Linzy Linzy Kaniper Kaniper, 5-6 protects the guard. ball. Sager is a 20-year coaching veteran with more than 200 wins to his credit. He has been at Southeast of Saline for 17 years. The Lady Trojans had a 13-9 record in 2011-12. Trojans In his second season as coach of the Southeast of Saline Trojans, Chance Ptacek expects members of his boys’ basketball team to stay disciplined and “focused on improving every day at practice and every game.” Ptacek went 10-11 in his first year. He returns three starters from that team: juniors Senior Sam Ben Stutterheim, Koch looks for 6-0 guard, and Kendal Peterson, an open man. 6-3 forward; and senior Sam Koch, 6-4 post. “Our biggest keys to success are developing leadership, pride and enthusiasm throughout our program,” Ptacek said.

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TMP-Marian Monarchs

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he Thomas More PrepMarian basketball teams are long known for two trademarks: stability and winning. However, the girls will have a new coach and both squads will have very inexperienced teams. The boys’ team has had just two coaches in the last half century with Al Billinger and Joe Hertel, entering his 28th year with the program. On the girls’ side, Alan Billinger, Al’s son, coached the Monarchs for the last 11 seasons. Hertel, 382227 in his career, has won two state crowns in the last 10 years, while Billinger won a state title three years ago. Billinger, who went 171-81 with TMP, retired last spring after a 19-4 season. Lady Monarchs Rose McFarland takes over the girls after coaching a variety of teams, including the Monarch girls from 1991-95. McFarland led TMP to a 20-4 record and a first round loss in the Class 4A tournament in 1993-94. The Monarchs made state twice under Billinger. “We’re hoping to continue that excellence,” McFarland said. TMP graduated four starters, including Rachel Jacobs, the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. However, the Monarchs return senior guard Heather Ruder, who earned first team all-league after she averaged 12 points, four assists and three steals a game. The boys graduated eight seniors, all of whom have played significantly since their sophomore year, from a 12-10 season. Hertel returns no starters, but junior forward Ryan Mayorga could step into a leading role.

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t’s the year for offense, offense, offense for Brian Friess’ Lions. Last year was a disappointment as Lyons compiled a 2-19 record. With five returning starters and another year of experience, Friess expects better times ahead. “We hope to be a much better team,” he said. Returning this year are: Luis Rascon, 5-9 senior; Matt Vincent, 5-10 senior; Ryan McClure, 5-11 junior; Grady Kirkhart, 6-2 sophomore; and Alan Pink, 6-2 junior. To have a successful season, the Lions must score more, shoot better and “we have to get to the foul line more and knock ‘em down,” Friess said. Lady Lions Coach Leann Hollinger, in her third year at the helm of the Lady Lions, returns four starters expecting to improve on last year’s team record of 9-12. The key to their success will be balance, with 6-foot-2 sophomore Alexis Lasater anchoring the post and scrappy junior guard Aubrey Hollinger bedeviling opponents outside and up and down the court. The other key to this season will be defense. “We’ve got to force turnovers and we can do it with our full court press that looks very nice,” Hollister said. She also praised the balance of her team’s offense saying “everyone is a scoring threat. We’re not going to depend on just one or two players.” Expectations are to have a team that is not just more physical, “but will use controlled physical play. We’re more mature and I expect our team to play smart ball this year.”

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Marion Marysville Warriors Bulldogs

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he Marion Lady Warriors will have a new head coach this year, Kelly Robson, who previously coached middle school basketball for 16 years. He will have five players from last year’s 3-18 team: senior Erin Meierhoff, 5-6 senior; and juniors Megan Richmond and Katey Ehrlich, both 5-7; Kaelyn Thierolf, 5-9 and Kelli Hess, 5-6. “We hope to improve the record from last year,” Robson said. “We will develop a more mentally tough attitude and learn to compete harder in those close games that could go either way. We must improve in the fundamental aspects of the game. “We will need to use our speed to our advantage without turning the ball over. We must learn to take good shots within the offense. We will need to value each possession and reduce the number of turnovers.” Warriors The Warriors will follow a 2011-12 season, which ended 11-10 and with a loss in the first round of substate play. Three players return: Jordan Hett, 6-1 senior guard; Jacob Harper, 6-3 senior guard; and Taylor Heidebrecht, 5-10 junior guard. Jeff McMillin is in his fifth year as the Warriors head coach. “I expect to be competitive in every game that we play, to continue to improve as the season progresses, and to be playing well enough to be able to win games at the end of the season,” he said. “We should be a strong offensive team on the perimeter. I don’t believe we will turn the ball over a great deal and we should be able to play fairly well in transition or in an up and down game. What will be the keys for us to be successful are if we can continue to get better on defense in the half-court setting and if we can get strong rebounding.”

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enior Garrison Wright leads the Bulldogs into the 2012-13 season as last year’s leader in blocked shots, rebounds, and one of the top scorers for Marysville. Fifth year head coach Mike Melcher has three starters coming back to help him build on a 7-14 season from last year. “We return five letter winners from last season, including two of our top three scorers,” said Coach Melcher. “It’s going to start on the defensive end of the floor with intensity, rebounding, limiting second chance opportunities, and limiting our opponents shot attempts in the paint. On the offensive end we like to get out in transition and create easy baskets. In the half court we have to limit our turnovers and create good shots through solid offensive execution.” Losing an all-league first team selection from a year before in Cale Green would be tough for any team. Garrison Wright has the potential to fill that void as a senior, and honorable allleague mention in 2011-12. Returning lettermen: Garrison Wright, 6-4 senior; Garrett Crome, 5-11 senior; Brandon Griffee, 6-1 senior; Kaleb Koerperich, 6-2 junior; Tanner Wright, 5-10 junior. Lady Bulldogs Amy Renyer will be in her first year as head coach of the Marysville girls’ team, but it will seem like a family reunion since she spent the last six years teaching and coaching in that town’s junior high program. A native of Sabetha, Renyer is all about family, returning to Kansas to be near her parents after spending 10 years coaching at Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Texas. She will be looking to better the 11-11 record Marysville had last year. “I coached a lot of these kids in junior high and now that we’re back together again, we expect a lot of wins. The girls and I are excited and looking forward.” Renyer will have a good nucleus in returning starters Abby Degenhart and Dani Schwartz, and the addition of 6-foot-2 transfer Tristan Wicks.


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he Blue Jays need a few good he Lady Lions lost five senior scorers this year in addition starters to graduation this past to Norton’s one returning spring, but veteran coach Bryan starter from last year’s team — Jacob Weatherman still has faith in his players Brooks, 6-1 senior guard. and the season ahead of them. The Blue Jays went 12-10 last year in “Most teams would be rebuilding a Coach Doug Reusink’s 22nd year at little,” he said. “We have a solid group Norton, where he has an overall record of players who gained valuable varsity of 260-194. experience last year. We are looking at “We will be small inside, but I think having a solid season and hoping to our kids will be competitive,” he said. put ourselves in a position we can be a Reusink said the keys dark horse in our to success for the league.” Bluejays will be finding Weatherman said the ways to score and post Lady Lions should have defense. a deep bench filled with players who can run and defend. Lady Bluejays “Our goal will be to George Rossi comes in turn defense into as the first-year head offense. We will also coach for the Lady Blue need to be a more effiJays. He will have three cient team in a halfreturning starters to work court game,” with from a team that Weatherman said. finished 9-12 last year. This is his 14th year Two seniors and a as a coach, the last four junior will lead a team at Minneapolis. He has that Coach Rossi thinks an overall record of 163can compete for a top144. The Lady Lions three finish in Midhad a win-loss record of Continent League. 12-9 in 2011-12. “We want to be more Returning starters: Minneapolis player competitive in the MCL None. Alex Yoxall returns and in sub-state,” Rossi from the Lions’ 2011- said. “Our goal is to be in Lions the top three of the Minneapolis returns 12 team. MCL. We want to one starter this year and improve on our record a team in need of experience. from last year. We will be playing quite “[We] should get better as the year a few girls with limited varsity experiprogresses and we learn how to comence. We want to enter each game with pete,” said Erik Shupe, who is in his a winning attitude and work ethic that seventh season as head boys coach. the Lady Jays have had for many years.” “Our primary goal will be to become a Returning starters: Tawni Griffey, mentally tough defensive team. Beyond 5-4 senior; Kamilla Jones, 5-7 senior; that we will see what happens.” Katelyn Engelbert, 5-10 junior. Returning players include: sophomores Josh Macy, 6-0 point guard, and John Kelly, 6-3 center; junior Alex Yoxall, 6-0 guard, and seniors Colin Briggs, 5-9 guard, and Connor Nace, 6-0 center. Shupe said his players will have to be quick learners. “We will be relying on some young, inexperienced players while playing a schedule full of teams with a lot of returning experience,” he said. “We will need to be solid defensively and good fundamentally on the boards and we are not a big team.”

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oach Kim Pakkebier has consistently led the Panther girls’ basketball program to winning seasons. However, the Panthers have never made the state tournament. The boys’ team hasn’t made it since 1973. Pakkebier is 65-41 in five years with Phillipsburg, including a 16-6 record last year. She returns two starters in 5-11 junior forward Mattison Dusin and 5-11 senior center Regan Bartels. Dusin averaged 11.6 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. “We have our starting posts returning for us, so we should be strong and experienced with our inside game,” Pakkebier said. “ We graduated our three starting guards, so we will need our younger players to step up to fill those roles. We will have to develop a strong perimeter game to balance our inside game.” Shania Wilkison, a 5-6 junior, and Madysen Frantz, a 5-8 junior, are players who will help at guard.

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Panthers Keith Sides enters his 11th year as head coach for the Panthers. The Panthers return three seniors from a team a year ago with an 8-13 record. “We should improve on last year’s record, as we only lost three seniors who only combined to average nine points per game,” Sides said. “We will have depth at guard consisting of senior Tad Thompson, senior Dylan Means, junior Tristan Ratzlaff, junior Trey Ellis, and sophomore Sam Sage.” A key to success is improvement of the inside game. “We plan to move Sean Newlan from a guard to a post which hopefully gives us an inside scorer,” Sides said. The team’s success will most likely revolve around Newlan’s ability to lead his team. Returning starters: Sean Newlan, 6-2 senior; Seth Derr, 5-11 senior; Justin Juenemann, 5-11 senior.

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1 Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

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Riley Co. Falcons

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he Lady Falcons will return only one starter, senior Bree Busch, a 5-6 guard, from last season, when Riley County finished as sub-state runner-up and with a record of 22-1. Despite the loss to graduation of a talented group of seniors, Coach Harold Oliver has high expectations for this year. “While we lost a tremendous group of seniors, we have a solid nucleus of players returning,” he said. On the roster are juniors: Makayla Vargo, 5-7 forward; Taylor Oliver, 5-8 forward; Katelyn Thomson, 5-4 guard; Madison Vargo, 5-5; and Heidi Prokish, 5-9. “We will be athletic and a good shooting team,” Oliver said. “We will need a consistent presence in the post and will have to develop our depth. “We have high expectations, but our schedule and league are very demanding.” Oliver is in his 24th year as Lady Falcons coach. His record is 429-112. Falcons With only two players coming back with real varsity experience, Coach Kelly Hammel will look to get some of his younger players more experience as quickly as possible. “Our keys for success are for our young players to develop their roles and play good defense,” Hammel said. The Falcons had a solid season in 2011-12. Finishing as runner-up in sub-state, Riley County finished with a winning 15-8 record. If underclassmen can adapt throughout the season, the Falcons should be able to capitalize on the leadership they currently have in place. “I expect us to struggle out of the gate,” Coach Hammel said, “but we have two very experienced players to build around and I expect a very competitive season.” Returning players: Brett Shoemaker, 6-5 senior; Bryce Chavis, 5-10 senior; Trace Nelson, 5-8 sophomore; Jacey Buss, 5-7 senior.

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Russell Sacred Heart Scott City Bronocs Knights Beavers

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he Russell girls’ basketball program has gone through some tough seasons in the last decade, including a winless winter in 2007-08, but the Broncos have seen big improvements under coach Frank Schulte. He is 36-29 at Russell, including a 15-7 record last year. Russell returns four starters: 5-10 senior forward Madison Beagley, 5-10 junior forward Janna Schulte, 5-6 senior guard Chantel Prester and 5-5 junior guard Alex Ptacek. Beagley was a first team allleague selection last year. Four players are expected to be in key roles: 5-7 senior Savannah Huff, 5-7 junior Lena Wedel, 5-11 freshman Kylie Casper and 5-6 freshman Megan Boxberger. Broncos Mark Paul is in the second year of his second stint as the Broncos’ boys coach. He was the head coach from 1995-2004 before he became athletic director. Russell went 1-20 last year, and 0-12 in the North Central Activities Association. The Bronocs return one starte, 6-3 junior Austin Donovan. Russell graduated its only all-league player in honorable mention selection Jordan Hecker.

Sacred Heart’s Hannah Doll reaches for the ball during the 2011-12 season.

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ast year was the first time Pat Martin’s Knights haven’t gone to state competition in the five years he has been head coach at Salina’s Sacred Heart High School. He expects better things for the 2012-13 season. “We should be improved from last season,” Martin said. “Our young players have a lot of potential and a tough schedule prepares us for the sub-state tournament. We should vie for a league title.” The Knights will be lead by senior Tony Chavez, a guard/forward, with all-state potential. He was named to all-county and all-league teams last season. Martin, whose overall record is 80-40, said the keys to his team’s success will be team chemistry and defense. “Experience inside should get better as season progresses,” he said. Returning starters: Chavez, 6-3, senior guard/forward; Cory Donley, 6-0, senior point guard.

Lady Knights Last year wasn’t the best of times for the Lady Knights, who finished the season with four wins and 17 losses. With five returning starters, this year could be much better. “I was proud of how our girls maintained a positive attitude and work ethic throughout the year,” said Mark Ramsey, who is in his second year as head coach. “With a new coach and a new system, it was difficult for us to compete in [an] extremely tough league. Our main expectation this year is to be competitive. We want to be in every ballgame to the end and let the wins and losses take care of themselves.” Returning starters: Hannah Doll, 5-9 senior, forward/center; Megan Gilliland, 5-4 senior, guard/forward; Tracie Thibault, 5-5 junior, guard; Maddie Donatell, 5-5 junior, guard/ forward; Megan Stein, 5-6 junior, forward. Returning players with some varsity experience: Maddie Varner, 5-9 junior, center; Sarah Dix, 5-4 junior, guard/ forward; Maggie Doll, 5-5 sophomore, forward/center; Sarah Vandervoort, 5-2 sophomore, guard.

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t doesn’t get much better than coach Glenn O’Neil’s Beavers, 3A state champions for the past two seasons. O’Neil, whose 16-year win-loss record at Scott City is 281-110, will return 10 of his 12 top players from a year ago. “We expect to be competitive again this year,” he said. “The players have high goals and expect to receive every team’s best shot. We have enough depth that the remaining starters know they will have to work hard to keep their starting positions.

“The number one key for us to repeat our success is to maintain team chemistry. Players will expand their roles and new players will need to find their roles for us to challenge again.”

Returning starters: Brett O’Neil, 6-0 senior point guard; Tyler Hess, 6-0 senior, wing; Joey Meyer, 6-3, senior post; Drew Kite, 6-4, senior post. Lady Beavers There’s also optimism on the women’s side. This will be coach Lori Oestreicher’s first year at the helm and she starts with four veterans from Scott Community’s 2011-12 team: Janessa Lowenthall, 5-10 senior, post; Shanaya Hoeme, 5-7 guard; Bailey Nickel, 5-10 junior forward; and Kelly Wycoff, 5-7 junior guard. Only two seniors are gone from last year’s team.

“I am very excited about our potential for success this year,” Oestreicher said. “We have been working hard in the weight room all summer. I expect us to have a winning season and be competitive in sub-state this year. “We need to use our speed this year to get great stops on defense as well as fast break and score quickly. Our posts will be needed to play ball and rebound for our guards driving to the basket.” Oestreicher spent two years as head coach at Northeast High School, Arma, Ks., where she compiled an overall record of 14-28. She also spent three years at Frontenac High school as an assistant coach.

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Monarchs’ “Big Three” with Rachel Jacobs and Jenna Lang. All three players averaged at least 12 points a game, but Jacobs and Lang graduated. Jacobs, now playing for Fort Hays State University, is the Monarchs’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder. McFarland coached at Downs and Phillipsburg and also was the women’s tennis coach and then the women’s assistant basketball coach at Fort Hays State University. She last coached

at WaKeeney-Trego from 2001-06. McFarland was the TMP girls coach from 1991-95 and led the Monarchs to the first girls’ basketball state appearance in school history. The next two trips came when Ruder was a freshman and sophomore. “I thought Coach Billinger did an incredible job, leading the team for the past several years,” McFarland said. “We’re hoping to continue that excellence.” Phillipsburg has posted several strong seasons

under veteran coach Kim Pakkebier, but has had trouble against TMP. Since 2007, the Panthers are 63-40 with four winning seasons, including a 16-6 record last season. However, Phillipsburg is 1-4 versus the Monarchs in that span, including a substate loss in the Monarchs’ state title season. This year, the Panthers will look for the first state trip in girls’ basketball history. Junior Mattison Dusin averaged 11.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest. Norton, one of the

Panthers’ rivals, will have a coaching change as Kevin Jilka steps aside after 30 years and a state title. “It was fun, and it was a good ride, but there just comes a time when it’s time for other people to take over,” Jilka said. The Blue Jays return senior guard Tawni Griffey, who like Ruder, excels in another sport. Griffey, a state tennis champion, has played all throughout the Midwest with tennis and averaged 12.5 points per contest for the Bluejays last year.

really good team, too.” Beloit and Scott City went to the Class 3A state tournament last season and met up in the first round. Scott City won 72-63 and went on to win its second straight state title after it won the Class 4A crown in 2010-11. Scott City narrowly remained in Class 3A when the KSHSAA reconfigured classifications this fall. The Beavers have 242 students and the 3A cutoff is 256. The Trojans and Beavers each return one player who delivered big numbers and several athletes who played

key roles. For Scott City, Drew Kite tacked on 15.6 points and 10 rebounds a game as a junior. He collected first team 3A allstate from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Brett O’Neil, coach Glenn O’Neil’s son, collected second team all-state. For Beloit, Austin Budke returns after he led the Trojans with 17.5 points per contest and was second team all-state. Junior Payton Vetter was honorable mention allstate. The duo put together several big games. Budke scored 32 points

against Smith Center, while Vetter tallied 28, including four 3s, in a 68-66 sub-state semifinal victory against Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart returns Tony Chavez, who has averaged double figures in each of the last two seasons and earned backto-back first team all-North Central Activities Association honors. Hoisington’s Cody Stetler is one of 3A’s top forwards and collected 14 points and 10 rebounds a contest. The 6-foot-8 Stetler was second team all-state and helped the Cardinals win the Mid-Central Activities Association title.

Newlan Continued from Page 13 know, we are going to keep our minds open.” One area Sides would like to see improvement with is shooting. Phillipsburg averaged 34 percent shooting and 19 percent from 3-point range. “If we shoot the ball pretty good, we are going to have good enough athletes to do really well,” Sides said. “The key is we have got to shoot the ball. I think that football is definitely their No. 1 sport, but basketball, if they can do that part of it, they can be a


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Work ethic drives Farris to success

work hard out there and I know that I should work hard for what I get,” she said. “I know that there is always going to be someone else out ast year’s Class 2A there just as good or better.” Brookville/Ell-Saline subLast year, Lincoln lost 68-57 to state featured several top-10 Smith Center at sub-state. The Lady teams in arguably the classification’s Red, long known for its full court most difficult bracket. The teams press under veteran coach Nick included Smith Center, Washington Linn, finished 22-1 last winter. County, Ell-Saline, Lincoln and even“They are aggressive, and they tual champion Belleville-Republic want to play that style of game,” County. The Buffs beat previously Linn said. “If I ever told them that undefeated Smith Center, 42-37, in we weren’t going to press and that the championship and advanced to we were going to drop back into a the state tournament where they zone, I am pretty sure they would eventually finished third at 21-5. disown me as a coach, I think.” Each squad had at least one allSmith Center had two all-state state selection by the Kansas players in Tangie Hileman (now Basketball Coaches Association, and playing basketball at Cloud County with the exception of Republic Community College) and Sydney County, the rest of the four squads Benoit, a senior this year. return one all-state player. No one, “She is a really darn good player,” though, is better known than Lincoln Linn said. “One that I can’t really do senior guard Jenna Farris, a threewithout.” time all-state player and first team The Lady Red lost two starters for selection last season. most of last season in Torie Fuller Farris, also a state champion in and Trenna Cox. Fuller now runs cross country and track, averaged track at Fort Hays, but Cox is a 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 steals senior this winter. Benoit averaged and three assists a game for a team 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and a that finished 18-4. Farris shot 47 team-high 4.7 steals. percent from the floor, 81 percent Cox tacked on 10.5 points, 4.5 JIM WILLIAMS/Lincoln Sentinel-Republican from the free throw line and 39 persteals and 3.4 assists. Benoit was Lincoln’s Jenna Farris protects the ball cent from the 3-point line — a key first team all-Mid-Continent League area that Farris wanted to improve on during a game last season with the Lady and Cox earned second team. Dragons of Wilson. from her sophomore year. Washington County also posted a per“That work ethic and that drive is def- win against Russell. fect regular season, but suffered a loss to initely one of the things that sets her “There is no girl that can wear her Republic County in sub-state and finapart,” Coach Steve Crist said. “I would out,” Natoma coach Aaron Homburg ished 21-1. say very close behind that with Jenna is said. “You can’t stick a girl on her and Senior Kylie Penning returns after she her personality. She doesn’t really act like say, ‘Hey, just stick with it, you’ll be fine, collected second team all-state honors. she is really gifted athlete. we will wear her out.’ No, that isn’t going She averaged 16 points, five rebounds, “She is very down to earth and just to happen. She is a champion state cross four steals and 2.6 assists a contest. loved by all the other kids here,” Crist country runner. You don’t run her into Ell-Saline, which lost in the first round added. “I don’t think there is much jealthe ground.” of sub-state to Republic County, finished ousy or anything there because of the At sub-state, she received statewide 16-5 last winter. Senior Emily Work colway that Jenna holds herself. She has got acclaim for tallying 81 points in two conlected all-state honorable mention honsuch a tremendous personality along tests and helped Lincoln qualify for state ors. She averaged 14.8 points, 3.7 with the success that she has had.” for the first time since 1990. Farris averFarris has enjoyed a remarkable career. aged 24 points her freshman and sopho- rebounds and 3.7 steals per contest. Central Plains took fourth with a first In the third game of her freshman year, more seasons. she scored 34 of the team’s 45 points in a “There are lot of other people that See FARRIS, Page 21 BY CONOR NICHOLL

Cnicholl1@gmail.com

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Class 2A

League known for quality teams BY CONOR NICHOLL cnicholl1@gmail.com

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he Mid-Continent League is widely known throughout the state as one of the top small school conferences and features Class 1-3A schools. The MCL is most known for its football, wrestling and track programs, but has produced quality boys’ basketball teams. Keith Riley has coached the Hill City Ringnecks for more than 40 years and won three state titles, Norton won a state crown in 2003 and WaKeeney-Trego captured a title in 2006. The last two seasons, Plainville was among the favorites in Class 2A, tallied more than 40 wins and rose as high as No. 2 in the Kansas coaches’ poll last winter. However, the Cardinals lost lost to Sacred Heart in the Mankato-Rock Hills sub-state in 2011 and then in the final seconds to Ness City last winter in substate play. The MCL hasn’t qualified a team to state in the

Farris

Continued from Page 20

round state win against Oakley and losses to Olpe and Belleville-Republic County. Senior Jennifer Hitschmann collected all-state honorable mention after the Oilers finished 18-6. Republic County graduated

last two years — but that could change this winter. Ellis, a program that hasn’t reached state since 2003, arguably returns the most talent among any Class 2A team in the western half of the state, especially in northwest Kansas. The Railers bring back three seniors who earned all-MCL honorable mention honors last year: Tyler Walters, Luke Lohrmeyer and Thatcher Brown, one of the best defensive players and shot blockers in Kansas. As well, Chris Rorabaugh, a veteran of more than 35 years, returns to the Ellis sideline. Rorabaugh has coached at multiple places during the years, including Copeland, Utica, Quivira Heights, Western Plains and a long stint at Ellis. Rorabaugh coached at Plainville the previous two winters before starting his second stint with Ellis. The Railers return their top seven scorers, including Lohrmeyer (9.2 points a contest), Walters (8.5) and Brown (8.2). The trio were

the top-three point scorers for the Railers. The 6-foot-5 Brown had 7.3 rebounds and collected 4.3 blocks a contest, fourth-best in the state, according to maxpreps.com. Ellis’ nearby rival, WaKeeney-Trego, who made state appearances in 2006, ’08 and ’09, had a solid season last winter and returns two MCL selections in junior Clayton Riedel and senior guard John Griffith. For the first time, though, the Golden Eagles will move to Class 1A, Division I. Like Ellis, Oakley could be a team on the rise. The Plainsmen graduated only two players and return two tall, long forwards in 6-foot-6 senior Stephen Llewellyn and 6-foot-5 Austin Baalman from a 10-11 team. Baalman averaged 10.8 points per contest and Llewellyn tacked on 10.2 points per game and shot 65 percent from the field. Baalman had 8.2 rebounds a game and Llewellyn grabbed 6.9 boards a contest. The two players combined for 37 blocked

shots. Hill City’s Riley delivered a 16-win season despite rarely going more than six players deep. The Ringnecks, who last made state in 2010, did graduate first team all-MCL guard Adam Pfeifer. Belleville-Republic County senior Trenton Kuhlman is back after he was second team all-state for an 18-4 team. Coach Alan Sheets, the longtime Buffs’ coach, helped the team go unbeaten in league play, but a move to principal may keep him from coaching. Bennington senior Derek Stanley returns after he collected all-state honorable mention. Stanley led the 12-11 team with 13.4 points and 4.5 assists per contest. Meade had the No. 1 team in Class 2A most of last year and brings back 6-foot-11 forward Randy Friesen. He led the state with 5.5 blocks per contest and tacked on 14.4 points and 11.8 boards per contest for the 25-1 Buffs. Meade lost to Sterling in the state championship game.

all-stater Saren Hobelmann. However, the Buffs return senior Devin Nutsch, a first team all-league performer. Farther out west, Oakley has reached the state tournament the past two seasons. Randall Rath, who has been coaching since 1992 and has won a state title. The Plainsmen haven’t had a standout scorer in either of the last two years, but do return sophomore Marlee

Rath, Rath’s youngest daughter, and junior Laura Dennis. At sub-state, Rath hit a key 3-pointer late and Dennis led the team with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Hill City, known for its strong shooting, graduated all-state guard Kelsey Keith from a 13-9 season, but returns senior guard Shelby Stewart (7.3 points/game). Stewart hit 43 3-pointers last winter for a

team that shot 33 percent from beyond the arc. Ellis brings back senior Bailey Hensley, a second team all-MCL selection. Hensley, known for her quickness and rarely coming off the court, is entering her fourth year as a starter. The Railroaders will also have freshman Alexcia Deutscher, a multi-sport standout in junior high and a starter for the volleyball team this fall.


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Belleville-Republic Co. Buffaloes

At far left, the Buffs battle Ellsworth during the 2010-11 season; Kiara McCall is introduced before the start of a game.

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Bennington Bulldogs

n 12 years as a basketball coach, this year’s Bennington boys may have more depth than just about any team Tim Dolloff has ever coached. The Bulldogs went 12-11 in the 2011-12 season, losing in sub-state finals. Four starters from that team return. Dolloff ’s overall record is 208-136, including several years at Little River. “We should have a lot of experience back,” he said. “We will want to play fast and force turnovers.” Returning starters: Derek Stanley,

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hane Duncan brings 12 years of coaching experience to Canton-Galva. With little experience at the varsity level, this season looks to be a rebuilding year for the Eagles. With a 2-19 record, and no seniors returning to starting roles, coach Duncan is really going to have to take advantage of the time he has this year to get younger players experience. With the only returning starter being a junior, assimilating younger players into roles of leadership on the varsity squad is crucial. “We need to get experience at the varsity level,” says coach Shane Duncan. “Our expectations are to compete every time we take the court, and take steps towards improving every game.”

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6-1, senior point guard; Zach Fief, 5-10, senior guard; Jacob Arnold, 6-2, senior forward; Lane Thornhill, 6-1, senior forward.

Ell-Saline Cardinals

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

xpectations are high for the Joel Benson, CPA Cardinals this year as they Mary Benson, CPA return all but one starter from their 2011-12 team, which Specializing in small businesses went 11-14 and was defeated by Meade in the first round at state. 1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 “We will have a team that can Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159 compete with every ream in our jmbensoncpa@yahoo.com league,” said Coach Doug Wilson. “Our two tournaments will have teams in them that we will also be Lady Cardinals able to compete with. They should Senior point guard Emily Work is be able to finish in the top half of one of her league’s outstanding playour league, win some tournament ers and she will return this season, games, and hopefully put ourselves in along with four other starters: a positive position” to make another seniors Brittany Clancy, 5-7 guard post season run. and Darriane Wikoff, 5-9 forward; Returning are: Kaleb Whitehair, and juniors Aubrey Wilson 5-10 6-2; Toby Omli, 5-10; Luke Base, guard; and Sesely Omli, 5-7 forward. 6-1; Keegan Hays, 6-0; Rosse Last season, the Lady Cardinals Armstrong, 6-1; and Dylan Nelston, compiled a record of 16-5 and ended 6-0. the season in sub-state/state in the “I think the number one key to first round. Ell-Saline was seeded our success is our ability to make fourth. timely shots,” Wilson said. “These “We expect to use our experience boys work very hard and understand and get better throughout the year,” how to guard people ... These boys said coach Curtis Pickering. are very disciplined and understand Keys to success this season will be how to run an offense, however, the staying healthy, focused and deterball has to go in.” mined, he said.

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Coach Shane Duncan also had this to say about his team: “Gaining experience and learning how to play against top-level competition that our league provides will be keys to success. Learning how to play together and gain confidence on the court will be imperative.” Returning players: A.J. Medley 5-10 junior.


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t’s a new school year and a new coach for the Oilers. Brett Rolfs takes the reigns following the 2011-12 season, in which they went 9-12 and lost in the first round of sub-state play to Sterling, which ended its season as 2A state champions. “Our expectations will be to finish in the top tier of the Central Prairie League and be peaking as we enter sub-state play,” Rolfs said. Returning starters are: senior Bryce Steiner, 5-9 shooting guard; senior Joe Barton, 6-4 power forward; and sophomore Layne Bieberle, 6-0 point guard. Rolfs said the keys to success for the Oilers will be to build a good foundation that grows stronger from week to week. “Individuals will have to improve throughout the year, but more importantly, the team will need to create a cohesive identity where all five on the court are functioning as one,” Rolfs said. “More specifically, we will have to play off of our strengths, which appear at this point to be a lot of depth in our guard play. So, an up tempo offense should suit us well.” Lady Wildcats A familiar face returns to Central Plains High School, as Pat Stiles takes over as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach. From 1986-1995, Coach Stiles served as Claflin High School (absorbed by Central Plains High School) boys’ basketball head coach. With almost 30 years of coaching experience at Claflin/Central Plains Schools, Coach Stiles brings back three seniors from a team that finished fourth in 2A state a year before, and it’s very realistic so say the sky is the limit for the Lady Wildcats entering this year. “Our goal is to work hard every day in practice to get better, take one game at a time, and become potentially the best possible team that we can become by playoff time,” Coach Stiles said. Returning players: Janae Hekele, 5-4 senior; Katie Hipp, 5-7 senior; Jennifer Hitschmann, 6-0 senior.

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his year will be a fresh start for the Eagles. Dustin Klassen is in his first year as Ellinwood coach. He starts the job with optimism. “We have a great group of kids here at Ellinwood and a strong senior class,” he said. “They are very willing to work hard and put in the time needed to be successful. “Our kids have a lot of potential to do great things if they truly believe and buy into a completely new program. “I understand this process takes a lot of time and effort and it is my job to get them there. I am extremely excited about the upcoming season and can’t wait to get to work.”

Ellis Railers

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llis reached the state tournament in 2008 and then finished as state runner-up to St. Marys the following year. In 2010, the Railers reached the sub-state championship game. The last two seasons, Ellis has had young teams. This year, coach Perry Mick (131150 overall record in 13 years) returns three starters and three players who saw significant playing time. Senior 5-foot-3 guard Bailey Hensley enters her fourth season as a starter after she averaged 14.6 points per contest last year and earned second team all-MidContinent League recognition. Junior Kaleigh Soneson, a 5-foot-8 forward, averaged six points a game, while 5-6 sophomore Stephanie Greenway averaged 3.6 points a contest. As well, senior Megan Honas (3.6 points), junior Sidney Gottschalk (2.7) and sophomore Sarah Mick (2.5) started occasionally. Alexcia Deutscher, a 5-foot-8 freshman, is a highly touted player who is expected to step in immediately. The Railers The Ellis boys went 13-9 last season and return all but one player for coach Chris Rorabaugh, who previously served a long stint as the Railers’ coach. He coached at Plainville the last two seasons. Senior guards Cole Pfeifer, Blake Hudson and Jared Mick and senior forwards Luke Lohrmeyer and Thatcher Brown and swingman Tyler Walters are all players expected to see plenty of playing time.

Ellinwood’s Sophia Hayes during the 2011-12 season.

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he Herington boys will return enough experienced players this season that Coach Gregg Hackerott predicts his Railers will be “very competitive” in their league. In 2011-12, Herington finished the season with a 15-7 record, losing in the semi-finals of sub-state. The Railers return two starters. “We need to find a way to compete on the boards. We should be able to play a very up tempo style,” said Coach Hackerott. “We need to defend every possession. It should be an exciting team to watch.” Lady Railers The Lady Railers, under the direction of ninth year coach Jayson Emig, are expecting to compete for a league title this year by improving on their 5-16 record last year. Emig’s entire career has been devoted to Herington, with an overall coaching record of 60-109. The team and coach are fired up at the prospect of playing with all five returning starters from last year, including four seniors, Anastasia Morgan, Brianna Blackwell, Ricki Hart, and Cora Jones, and junior Shayna Kremeier. Emig expects his team will establish their depth early and then become more consistent on a nightly basis. When asked to list the keys to success this year, Emig said, “We need to be consistent on offense and apply a tough and disciplined pressure defense. We also need to be students of the game and continue to learn while getting better every night. Our depth on the bench will be especially key as we plan to be competitive all the way into substate play.”


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Dr. Gwinner, Optometrist 208 W Lincoln • Lincoln, KS 67455 785-524-5244 801 E. 3rd Suite A • Ellsworth, KS 67439 785-472-3272

Hill City Ringnecks

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he Hill City basketball programs have been consistent winners under boys’ coach Keith Riley and girls’ coach Linda Nighswonger. Last year, the Hill City girls finished 13-9, while the Ringneck boys finished 17-6 despite rarely going more than six players deep. Riley is one of Kansas’ most experienced coaches and picked up his 600th career victory last year. Riley has seven state appearances and three state titles with 1970, 1978 and 1998. Nighswonger is 201-107 overall and 88-49 at Hill City, including a state runner-up appearance three years ago. Both teams lost one first team all-conference player in Adam Pfeifer and Kelsey Keith. Forward Haley Dinkel and guards Matt Craig and Jerry Isakson, key supporting players, also graduated. Lady Ringnecks On the girls’ side, the Ringnecks return multiple players who started at times last year: 5-10 senior forward Darrien Collins, 5-10 senior forward McKenzie Cooper, 5-7 senior guard Megan Gansel, 5-5 junior guard Maegan Gosselin, 5-9 senior guard Tiffany Russell and 5-1 senior guard Shelby Stewart. Junior guard Solomon Wilson is the boys’ leading returning scorer at 11.7 points per contest, and sophomore guard Shane Jones averaged 7.8 points per game.

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ith experience and “a great off-season conditioning program this summer,” coach Brett Froese thinks this could be a landmark season for his Teutons. “If we play hard, then a lot of good things will happen for us,” he said. Inman has four returning starters: Tyler Cottom, 5-10 junior guard; Justin Friesen, 6-1 junior guard; Josh Miller, 5-8 senior guard; and Alex Ropp, 6-4 senior post. Froese, in his third year as head coach, has an overall record of 28-16. This past season, he took the Teutons to the sub-state semi finals and ended the year with a 12-10 record. “Defense and rebounding will be the keys for us,” Froese said. “I think we’re going to be able to score the ball, but we must play better defense.”

Lady Teutons What the Lady Teutons lack in size they will have to make up for with experience. The Inman girls bring back three starters, accompanied by two more letter winners from a team that finished with a 9-12 record in 2011-12. “We are a very small team so rebounding and guarding people inside is a concern,” said Jeff Friesen, who enters his fifth season as Inman’s head coach. “The five girls we bring back all played a lot last season, so we do return some experience. Finding some girls to help off the bench will be important.” Inman will have stiff competition within league play. The Lady Teutons finished 3-6 in the Heart of America League last season. Berean Academy, Little River, and Ell-Saline all expect to compete for a league title, as well as a spot in the 2A state tournament. Returning players: Savanah Case, 5-7 senior; Ashlyn Wiens, 5-4senior; Kaitlynn Goalden, 5-7 junior; Abby Ropp, 5-8 sophomore; Beth Doerksen, 5-5 senior.

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hree returning starters highlight Coach Nate Schmitt’s roster from a team that, while finishing 9-11, reached the state tournament despite a sub-.500 record. “We will not have very good numbers this year, but the kids we do have are very committed, and are a hard working group.” Schmitt is in his second year as head coach, and still trying to implement a new system for the Indians. “This year will be year number two in a new system, and we had a very busy summer. We are looking forward to seeing major improvements and are expecting a big year.” The expectations from Coach Schmitt are legitimate. Given the number of starters and returning players the Indians are bringing back, there is a lot to look forward to. Getting over the .500 hump in the regular season, and giving players another year to assimilate themselves into Coach Schmitt’s system should not only be attainable, but expected. Returning players: Neil Fletcher, 6-4 senior; Bryce Nickelson, 6-0 senior; Jantz Budde, 6-2 junior; Casey Day, 6-0 junior; Spencer Thurman, 5-9 sophomore.

Lady Indians Mark Fairchild is home after 30 years away, including the past four coaching varsity girls in Kentucky. “This is going to be a learning experience for them and for me,” he said. The Lady Indians lost two seniors to graduation after the 2011-12 season, which leaves him with three returning starters. “I have no idea of the talent level, but I know what I want to do,” Fairchild said. “If they’re in good shape and have the skills, they are going to enjoy the game more.” Which brings the coach to his goals for the Lady Indians. “I work on fundamentals,” he said. “I want my center to be able to dribble.”

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his is Luke Bauman’s first year as Lincoln coach after being in Marysville and Wilson the past four years. He will have three returning starters: seniors Zach Streit, 6-0 guard; Alex Jackson, 6-1 forward; and Dayton Walter, 6-2 guard/forward. Walter was an AllLeague Third Team selection. “We should have depth this year, allowing us to sub and keep fresh legs on the floor. With a strong senior class, we hope to build on the growth we made last year and compete for a tournament title and a high seed in sub-state,” Bauman said. Team members include eight seniors, six with varsity experience. “We only have one returning Lincoln’s Larrisa junior, Jerod Obermueller, Ligget challenges but he was probably the an opponent. most improved player on our JV squad last year,” Bauman said. “If he can contribute to the basketball team the way he has for football team this year, he will find his way on the floor at key times. We also have a talented group of freshmen who may compete for some varsity playing time.” Lady Leopards Lincoln will be led by seniors Jenna Farris, a guard, and Jennifer Crist, a forward, who helped take their Lady Leopards to an 18-4 season in 2011-12. “We should have another strong season,” said Coach Steve Crist, whose team was defeated by Smith Center in the sub-state semi-finals. “It might take a little time to build some experience with younger players, but I think we will round into a solid team by the end of February.” He said the development of inexperienced players will be key. “We will have a good inside game and outside game with Jenna and Jennifer, but we will need some other players to step up and take some pressure off of them,” Crist said.

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had Lafferty thinks fans of his Little River boys could be in for some surprises this

year. “This is an experienced group of players that will need to continue to work hard and improve on the little things to accomplish their goals for the upcoming season,” he said. “This team will need to step up their game and win some games they aren’t expected to win.” The Redskins return five starters: juniors Tevin Renken, 6-0, and Trevor Smyres, 6-1; and seniors Chet Cordell, 6-0, Ethan Wright, 6-1 and Dalton Konen, 6-4. Other players include: junior Zack Konen, 5-6; seniors Tanner Hodgson, 6-0, and Dylan Karracker, 6-3; and sophomore Chord Zeller, 6-2. Lafferty is in his fourth year as Little River boys’ coach. The team’s 2011-12 record was 13-8. Lafferty’s overall record is 31-34. Lady Redskins Shane Cordell will start his 33rd year at Little River High School with four returning starters: seniors Regan Dougherty, 5-8, Samantha Zeller, 5-6 and Chloe Baldwin, 5-6; and junior Skylar Johnston, 5-11. The Little River girls posted a record of 14-8 during the 2011-12 season. Cordell’s overall record is 576-211. He has two questions he thinks will be key to the success of this season: Can we handle the ball? Do we have the drive to compete? Cordell has several expectations for his team, including lots of work, bringing along younger players and “need to play with a hunger to be competitive.”

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oing into the 2012-13 season, the Ness City Eagles are only one player short of the team that carried them to a sub-state championship last season. The Eagles went on to a loss in the first round of state. Ness City has four returning starters, all seniors, and four other seniors also are court veterans. “We only graduated one starter from last year’s team,” said second-year head coach Matt Overlease (41-7). “He will be very hard to replace but we return eight players who all saw significant playing time last season ... I expect us to play up-tempo and be fairly deep off the bench. We should be able to pursue the ball defensively.” He said the key to success will be “to play together and play unselfish basketball. We have to have guys step in and understand their role. We will also have to play a more aggressive defense and try and force other teams into turning the ball over to help create easy baskets.” Returning starters: Colin Foos, 6-3 forward; Dalton Gantz, 6-0 forward; Kollyn Ratliff, 5-10 guard; Tucker Votehe, 6-1 forward. Returning players: Garrett Flax, 5-10 guard; Matthew Frank, 5-10 guard; Will Frusher, 6-2 forward; Wyatt Beckman, 6-0 guard. Lady Eagles Curtis Foos takes over an Eagle girls’ program that finished 5-16 last season and is expected to be young this winter. Foos moved from Colorado before last season; his son, Colin, is one of the Eagle boys’ top athletes. Ness City returns three players who saw significant playing time last year and should be key contributors this season: 5-6 senior guard Erin Flax, 5-4 junior guard Jessie Rubottom, and 5-6 senior guard Joni Johnson. Last year’s team finished 0-7 at home and was outscored by an average margin of 47-38 for the year.

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Decatur C0. Red Devils

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ecatur Community’s boys basketball program will have a new head coach this season. Daniel Conrad enters his first season as a varsity basketball coach at any level from a position within the football program at Kapaun Mt. Carmel in Wichita. The 2011-12 Red Devils had a lackluster 8-12 season, but are returning four starters. The expectations for Coach Conrad this season are simple: play as a team, be competitive in every game and build the foundation for a winning program. The Red Devils look forward to returning a strong senior class this season. With that comes leadership, and — Red Devil fans hope — the experience to create and take advantage of opportunities Returning starters: Tyler Bruggeman, Zach May, Kyle Breth, and Ryan May.

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1 H erita ge In su ra n ce G ro u p

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Plainville Smith Center Solomon Cardinals Redmen Gorillas

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he Plainville boys’ basketball squad was considered a contender for a Class 2A state championship each of the past two seasons. The Cardinals combined for 40 victories in the two winters under veteran coach Chris Rorabaugh, but lost in sub-state both years. This year, Rorabaugh is back at Ellis where he coached for many seasons. Lonnie Weiser (129-89 career record) takes over the Cardinals’ program that lost nearly all of its top players from a 21-2 season. Plainville returns two starters in 6-4 senior forward Nolan Weiser and 6-4 junior Hadley Gillum. “We are also expecting 6-4 senior Kent Diaz to be a key player along with several other J.V. players from last year,” Coach Weiser said. Weiser averaged 8.7 points per contest and Gillum tacked on 7.4 points per game, fifth and sixth, respectively, for the Cardinals. Plainville graduated its top four scorers, including all-state guard Andrew Casey. Weiser led the team in rebounds (7.8), while Gillum stood fourth (5.7) and Diaz was fifth (2.0).

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he Lady Redmen ended the 2011-12 season with a 22-1 record and a run to sub-state, which ended with a loss in the finals. Coach Nick Linn expects another memorable season for Smith Center. “Although we will be hard pressed to replace some very good seniors, we should compete for another MCL title in 2012-13,” he said. Smith Center is a member of the Mid-Continent League. Such success would be reflective of Linn’s win-loss record of 321-128 during his two decades at Smith Center. “We need to play an aggressive game, have some success with full court pressure and be fundamentally sound on defense. Our depth could be an issue,” Linn said. Smith Center returns two starters: Sydney Benoit, 5-9 senior guard; Trenna Cox, 5-6 senior guard.

Redmen Doug Boucher, a Smith Center graduate, former Redmen quarterback in the ‘80s and longtime head of the Redmen’s summer weight program, takes over the Smith Center boys’ basketball team this year. Austin Lewis led the Redmen to a 13-8 record last winter, a seven-win improvement from a 6-14 season in 2010-11. Lewis left for Meade, where he inherits a program that finished as state runner-up in Class 2A last season. Don Wick, Smith Center’s longtime assistant, retired. The Redmen graduated its top two players in point guard Alex Hobelmann and forward Kale Terrill, who earned first and second team Mid-Continent League honors, respectively. Hobelmann started for four years. Senior Payton Buckmaster is the top returning player at 8.7 points per contest.

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om Flax returns for his second season as Solomon’s head coach. Though their previous season’s record may not show it, the Gorillas have every reason to be optimistic. Finishing 6-15 last year, Coach Flax has the luxury of not only returning every one of his five starters, but also everyone coming off the bench — nine players that enter the 2012-2013 season as juniors or seniors, as well as a 6-4 sophomore who can play as a swing guard and in the post. “I think that this year’s team is ready to make a big improvement from last year,” said Coach Tom Flax. Flax also shares high expectations for his team. “We will set our sights on a league title, and a sub-state championship. The schedule that we have will prepare us for the post season. It should be an exciting year for Gorilla basketball.” Returning players: Josh Burdine, 6-6 senior; Craig Wiese, 6-6 senior; James Villalpando, 6-0 senior; Colton Shirack, 6-0 junior; Blake Homman, 6-4 sophomore; Eddie Sandoval, 5-11 senior; Kevin Clark, 6-0 senior; Jordan Rangel, 6-2 junior; Mason Demars, 6-2 junior; Caleb Lang 6-3 senior.

Sterling B. Bears

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he Sterling Lady Black Bears are young, but quick and that quickness should serve them well in the wake of the 2011-12 season, when Sterling went 18-5 and finished as a runner-up in sub-state competition. “We will push the ball and we’ll hope to be competitive in a very competitive league,” said Jill Rowland, who is in her fifth year as coach. Her overall record is 61-67. The keys to success this year, she said, will be “staying away from injuries, developing good post play and bringing our underclassmen along.” Only four upperclassmen will be on the bench this season for Sterling. Returning starters: Dani Dowell, 5-7, senior guard; Aubree Nuest, 5-6, junior guard.

Sterling guard Aubree Nuest is a junior this year.

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ike other coaches across central and northwest Kansas, Coach Scott Romeiser has his fingers crossed his Washington County Lady Tigers will stay healthy this season. He also has several other items on his wish list. “We need to develop a rotation and depth for this season,” he said. “The development of defensive toughness will also be a key.” The Tigers finished the 2011-12 season with a 21-1 record. Returning starters will be seniors Kylie Penning, 5-8 guard/forward, and Megan Stegman, 5-7 point guard. “We should be a competitive team again this season,” said Romeiser, who has been at Washington County two of the dozen years he has coached. “Our league will be tough again this year, so we will have to work hard to finish in the top half of our league.” Tigers Washington County returns one starter, senior Evan Mcbatlin, 5-foot-9 guard, from last year’s 12-10 team. However, several other players — while young — also have considerable playing time: senior Chase Wilkens, 6-3 post; sophomore Matt Bexemeyer, 6-0 post; junior T.J. Miller, 6-0 guard; sophomore Andrew Tiemeyer, 5-8 guard; and sophomore Wyatt Durst, 5-11 guard. “We were very young last year and will be young again,” said David Bisnette, who is in his 18th season with the Tigers. “We try to play a lot of guys, so lots of opportunities to step up are available.” He said keys to the 2012-13 season will be defense on the permeiter, defensive possessions with rebounding and quality offensive possessions.

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or the first time in a long time, the Muleskinners won’t be starting from scratch. Roy Lawrence’s team, which lost in the first round of sub-state last year to TMP-Marian of Hays, returns three starters: Oliver Prophete 6-4 senior; Barry Edourad, 6-1 senior; and Brandon Mudd, 6-3 junior. “I hope we can improve on what we did last year,” Lawrence said. “We have three returning starters and some new guys will be joining us for the upcoming season.” The coach hopes to have all three of his returning players remain healthy. “This is a first in a long time that I will have a group of players who have played the game where we left off the year before. This is not like years past, where we needed to start over with new players,” he said.

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Wissman: An all-around athlete BY CONOR NICHOLL cnicholl@dailynews.net

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tis-Bison senior Dylan Wissman has enjoyed one of the best allaround careers of any northwest Kansas athlete. He has collected more than 4,000 total yards in football and helped the Cougars to a Eight-Man, Division II runner-up showing in 2010. Last year, the Cougar football team reached the sub-state championship game. In basketball, Wissman has been a key cog on the two best basketball squads in Otis-Bison history. Two winters ago, Otis-Bison finished third in Class 1A, Division II. Last year, Otis-Bison earned statewide attention for its “poker chips” turnaround down the stretch and lost to Frankfort in double overtime for the state championship. Wissman labeled last year’s run to the state title one of the best experiences in his high school career. “That is the biggest crowd that I have ever played for in my high school career, so it was a lot of fun,” Wissman said. “You just kind of wanted to stop and stare, but you really couldn’t, though.” If Wissman wants to replicate last season’s run, he will have to do it with a new coach and a virtually entirely different team. Otis-Bison Coach Alan Clark, the reigning Hays Daily News Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year, left to become the Barton County Community College assistant girls’ basketball coach. Otis-Bison has a new coach in Bryant Briggs and graduated most of its starters, including steady guard Trevor Keller, forward Brandon Pechanec, Patrick Piper and Zach Stejskal. Keller was the leading scorer at 12

points per contest. Otis-Bison and Class 6A Wichita Heights were the lone teams to reach the final four in football and basketball from the fall of 2010 through the winter of 2012. “In some of ways it will be different,” Wissman said. “With a new coach, you are going to have a lot of different things. He coached the middle school last year, and I have watched the intensity that he had in their practices and it shouldn’t be too much different when it comes to that.” Last year, the Cougars slipped to 10-5 and had just lost 40-36 to Claflin-Central Plains on Jan. 31. Clark met with the four seniors. Clark wasn’t upset, but was disappointed. At school the following day, the seniors talked again. Clark presented the poker chips in practice, a tactic he learned from a story about the New York Giants. The Giants struggled in midseason, but a motivational speaker handed out poker chips to each player. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. After he handed out the chips, Clark asked the Cougars if they were all in for the rest of the year. Otis-Bison played better down the stretch. The Cougars still lost a couple games to Class 2A Ness City, a state qualifier, and Class 1A, Division I St. John. The “all in” became a rallying cry for the team, fan base and school. At state, the Cougars even had signs with “all in.” At state, Otis-Bison was the No. 5 seed and defeated TribuneGreeley County and Hope before it lost in double overtime to Frankfort in the final. The Cougars finished 18-8 and are 34-18 in the last two years.

The 6-foot Wissman and 9 in the preseason last year. Keller took over at state. In the However, Cheylin didn’t end in first round, Wissman paced Otis- the rankings either season or Bison with 22 points, including have a state berth with 12-8 and nine in a key third quarter. 11-11 records under coach “Wissman, that was our main Anthony Blair. issue most of the night,” Greeley This winter, Blair returns County Coach Troy Haberman another group, including 6-footsaid after the game. “Our guys 8 senior Joshua Keltz. Keltz has didn’t do a good job stopping improved his athleticism and him in penetrating. He did a coordination in the last year and good job pumpfaking, got our kids up in the air.” In the semifinal, Wissman had 12 points and four assists and tacked on 13 points in the championship game. “State basketball was a lot of fun,” Wissman said. “The atmosphere was just crazy.” Sam McKinney will look to lead Weskan to the state tournament after he posted big numbers as a junior. McKinney MARK McCOY/Kansas Hardwood helped the Coyotes to Dylan Wissman protects the a big turnaround in ball during the 2010-11 season. football. The program won just seven games in his first three seasons, but eclipsed that this fall. should improve upon his In basketball, McKinney avernumbers from a year ago (9.3 aged 19 points, 11.6 rebounds, points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per blocks). game for a squad that finished “Over the summer, I lifted 11-11 and averaged 43 points a weights, and that really contest. helped,” Keltz said. “I started “He is such a great leader and getting coordinated and startis so smart,” Weskan athletic ed getting after it a little director Marc Cowles said. more.” Weskan ended last winter with Tescott returns Austin a loss to Bird City-Cheylin. The Herbel (18.2 points), while Cougars were ranked No. 1 in Dighton brings back Ryan Class 1A, Division II to start the Kuhlman (15.8 points per 2010-11 season and stood at No. game).


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Class 1A

Wilson’s Steinle shines on the court

BY CONOR NICHOLL cnicholl1@gmail.com

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ILSON — Wilson senior Karlie Steinle averaged 22.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.5 assists per game. She collected Class 1A first team allstate and helped the Dragons finish 17-5. A 65-31 victory against Natoma on Jan. 31 encapsulated Steinle’s impressive skill set, efficient shooting and allaround game. Early in the first quarter, Steinle worked around a defender, slightly adjusted in mid-air and sank a layup. She scored three more times in the quarter, including a jumper, and a play on the left side where she made a slight shoulder move to gain separation from the defense. In the second quarter, Steinle had the ball on the left wing against Natoma’s allstate senior Danica Casey. Steinle drove left around Casey, stopped and hit a midrange jumper. Later in the quarter, she hit a 3-pointer. A few seconds before halftime, Steinle had the ball after a steal. She quickly went past Natoma junior Tatum Pfortmiller and hit a shot. Early in the third quarter, Steinle collected a steal on the right side and worked around two defenders for a basket. She also scored off defensive rebounds, in transition and against defenders. Steinle showed a knack for using the backboard effectively and consistently faked and drove around defenders to create her own shot. She finished with 27 points on 12-of-15

shooting and 11 rebounds to ished third in Class 1A, continue one of the top Division II, the second-best careers in Dragon history. finish in the school’s girls’ “She is probably as good as basketball history. Last year, we have ever had,” Wilson the Dragons were in arguably coach Rod Seehafer, in his the toughest sub-state in 36th year with the program, Class 1A, Division II. Wilson said. finished 17-5 and lost to Steinle has scored 1,223 Hutchinson Central Christian points in her career and — the eventual state runnerincreased her scoring average each season. As a freshman, she averaged 14.7 points a contest. As a sophomore, she collected 19.9 points a game. In both years, Steinle led Wilson to the state tournament, the first time in Dragon history the girls’ basketball program has made two straight state appearMARK McCOY/Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter ances. Wilson’s Karlie Steinle goes up to the basket “It’s an during the 2011-12 season. honor,” Steinle said of being mentioned up — in sub-state play. This among the Dragons’ all-time year, Seehafer believes the greats. “I started when I was Dragons could have a “really in third grade and I have just great year.” Steinle, senior always worked hard to get guard Tanisha Steinike and better every day and I do junior guard Shania Steinike, want to play when I get into are returning starters. college.” “It looks like our league is In 2010-11, Wilson fingoing to be real tough with

two teams going to state last year and five teams ranked in 1A and 2A,” he said. Steinle has helped form one-third of a dominant offensive trio in the former Twin Lakes League, now part of the Northern Plains League, home to many of the state’s smallest schools. Steinle, Casey and Lincoln senior Jenna Farris all averaged at least 19.9 points per game last winter. Natoma and Casey is expected to be a rising contender in Class 1A, Division II, while Lincoln will be solid in Class 2A. “They grew up through junior high and when they were in junior high, same thing,” Seehafer said. “It’s just unbelievable that one small little league produced three girls that can score the ball like these three girls can. It’s unreal.” “It’s a lot of fun,” Steinle added. “It makes you work harder and obviously play harder.” Steinle’s years of basketball have developed her all-around game. She played with her two older brothers growing up, including Kenny, a senior on the 2010-11 Dragon team that finished 20-2. “It was fun,” she said. “We are great competitors and we would always want to outdo the other one. Like (’10-11), when he played basketball, we would always see like who would have more rebounds and points and stuff like that.” Steinle has often worked by herself on shot faking, a move she enjoys. Her freshman year, Jamie Weil coached the Dragons and focused on finSee STEINLE, Page 40


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No. Valley Huskies

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he Northern Valley boys are expected to show improvement this year. That’s the assessment from Chuck Fessenden, who has coached at Almena’s Northern Valley for 36 years, eight of them as head boys’ basketball coach. “We will be more athletic and our skill level should be better,” Fessenden said. “We need to score more points. We have struggled to score the past several seasons. We should be able to play solid defense and pressure some teams.” The Huskies will have two returning starter guards, a junior and a senior. Returning starters: Tyson Callway, 5-11, guard; and Jordan Baird, 5-11, guard.

Baileyville Falcons

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xpectations are high this year for the Baileyville Falcons. The Falcons will return All-Conference senior Curtis Stallbaumer, a 6-4 post, from the 2011-12 team, which finished the season with a record of 15-7 and as substate runner-up to Frankfort. Also returning will be starter junior Brendon Bergman, a 5-7 point guard. Other key returners will be senior Bryce Kohake and juniors Cameron Haug, Dylan Schmitz, Dustin Rottinghaus and Trevor Heiman. Jason Hajek is in his first year as Falcons coach and his 12th year overall. “We will have good size on the inside with good shooters on the outside for our inside attack,” he said. “With only two starters back off of last year’s team, we do have some good key returners who will have to play some big minutes for us this year.” The 2011-12 junior varsity team finished the season with a 17-2 record. “We will have a balanced attack from the inside and outside,” Hajek said. “With the athletes that we have, we will apply pressure on the defensive end. Offensively, we will try to get out and run and when we can’t run, we will need to be effective in our halfcourt sets. “We’re very excited about the upcoming season.”

Rawlins Co. Buffs

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awlins County lost its 6-foot-2 center, Hillary Chvatal, to graduation and Missouri State University, which means the Lady Buffs will be a young team this season. Only one senior, Tasia Reuber, 5-4 guard, will return. Other returning starters are: Keshia Green, 5-6, junior guard/forward; and Katie Withington, 5-4, junior guard. The team finished the 2011-12 season with a record of 16-7 and a substate finish of runner-up to Oakley. Coach John Terry said the loss of Chvatal leaves a big hole to fill. “We are going to lack the height on the inside this year, but our team speed should be good, and we have some pretty good guards coming back that can shoot from the outside,” he said. Terry said this season’s key to success will be finding a player to help with the Lady Buffs’ inside game. Buffs In his seventh season as head coach, with an overall record of 65-45, Atwood’s Jeff Lankas is far from bored. His team is coming off a successful 12-8 season and returning three starters and an experienced fourth man. “Working with four returning players means the kids know our system. These guys have been playing together for a long time and they play AAU ball and play all summer.” Returning starters include James Peterson, a 6-foot-7 junior bringing power to the inside, Michael Capo, a junior point guard, and Dylan Tiemeyer, a 6-foot junior who can play forward or guard. Cameron Ginther, a 6-foot-1 inside man with playing time last year is expected to be the fourth starter. The Buffalo’s numbers are down this year, but Landis is looking for good help from his young blood. “I’m searching for that fifth man, and we’ve got some young guys who could fill that fifth spot.” Lankas said the key to winning this year will be staying injury free. “With fewer players, we can’t afford any injuries. We’ve got to keep everyone healthy.” Lankas expects his team to push the ball and take advantage of “cherry picks in transition. We work on transition to boost the offense.” With returning talent and a newly configured league, Lankas can’t wait for the challenges and success this year should bring.

St. John’s Beloit

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ith five starters returning, Coach Lance Bergmann expects his Blujays to compete for a league title. “I want us to outwork every team we play. I expect us to show good sportmanship and enjoy the game of basketball. We plan to use our experience this year and compete in every game,” said Bergmann, who is in his fourth year at St. John’s. Returning Blujays are: seniors Hunter Kee, 6-1 forward, Eriq Perez, 6-0 forward; and Max Thomas 5-11 guard; juniors Connor Eilert, 5-11 guard; and Luke Eilert, 6-1 forward; and sophomore Trey Dubbert, 5-9 guard. “Attitude is everything for us this season. This is a group that has seen a lot of playing time over the last few years and has endured some tough losses,” Bergmann said. “We hope experience can help us this year. Our defense and rebounding are things we really need to focus on this year.”

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St. John’s Beloit-Tipton plays defense during the 2011-12 season. Below, Eriq Perez (22) and Max Thomas (23) defend for St. John’s.

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he Cheylin boys’ basketball team was ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, Division II in the preseason two years ago, but eventually finished 12-8. Last year, the Cougars started off No. 9 in the coaches’ rankings, but finished 11-11 as sub-state runner-up. This winter, third-year coach Anthony Blair brings back three starters, including 6-foot-8 senior center Joshua Keltz. “With a lot of experience coming back from last year, I expect to compete against many of the teams that we fell to last year,” Blair said. “I expect us to match up with many teams that we will play just because we have size down low and speed at our guard positions.” Keltz averaged 9.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. Senior guard Kenan Reeh tacked on 8.8 points a contest and senior guard Adam Orten averaged 7.6 points a contest. Orten will be coming off a leg injury suffered in early football season. Reeh’s status in is doubt after he broke his arm in Week 6 of football. “Our main keys for this season will be to have a double threat from the post position and the outside shot,” Blair said. “In the past couple of years we have had a strong post game, but struggled behind the 3-point line. Another main key for us will be to stay healthy and keep the injuries to a minimum.” Lady Cougars On the girls’ side, Max Keltz takes over the program from coach Greg Jones. Keltz, who has coached for more than 25 years at the school and is the longtime head football coach, returns three starters from a 4-17 team in senior guard/forward Stephanie Busse, junior guard Shayla Hubbard and sophomore guard Allie Frisbie. Hubbard led the team with 9.4 points and 3.2 assists a game. Busse collected 8.6 points and led the team with 8.3 rebounds. She averaged 15.2 points and 9.9 rebounds a game as a sophomore.

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Brewster Triplains

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hey have a way to go, but Kent Gfeller thinks his Lady Titans could finish “very high” in their league this season. “I expect us to be very competitive,” said Gfeller, who returns as the coach of the combined Winona-Brewster team. He coached the Lady Titans in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. His overall record at Triplains is 18-25. The girls finished last season with a 6-15 record. Returning starters are: junior Brittany Plummer, 5-1 point guard; and sophomores Shayna Rogge, 5-8 forward; Dara Roulier, 5-10 center; and Alicia Barrie, 5-3 guard. “I expect us to be very competitive in league,” Gfeller said. “We need to be fundamentally sound, so we can do a better job of controlling the ball and getting it to our playmakers.”

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Chase Kats

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rent Clark finished his first year at Chase with a 7-14 record. Even though the Lady Kats are losing two good seniors from last year, Coach Clark is optimistic his team will be better this year. “Even though we lost two good players to graduation, I believe we have the talent to be better than last year. I believe we will have more depth,” Clark said. Our ball handling will have to improve. We will have to be able to handle pressure. These girls are hungry for success, and will work very hard.” In Coach Clark’s 12 seasons as a head basketball coach, he has an impressive record of 146-98. His experience will be vital to laying the foundation for a solid program next year, and to build on in the future for the Chase girls. Returning players: Ashton Brady, 5-5 junior; Jaycee Kizzar, 5-7 junior; Emily Root, 5-8 junior.

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he Eagles improved as the 2011-12 season went along. Coach Steve George expects his players to start from where they left off last season and continue along the road of improvement. Clifton-Clyde returns four starters from a team that went 7-15 and lost in the second round of sub-state play to Lakeside of Downs. “We should be more experienced and fairly quick,” George said. “Keys will be consistent shooting and holding onto the ball. We tend to get careless and make mistakes.” George, with 15 years as Eagles head coach, has an overall record of 178-158. Returning starters: Caleb Gelino, 5-11, junior point guard; William Ohlde, 6-1, junior forward; Alex Deaver, 6-0, senior forward; Lucas Branfort, 5-9, senior shooting guard. Lady Eagles It’s a numbers game for Coach Ken McClanahan, whose Lady Eagles compiled a record of 5-15 in the 2011-12 season. “It’s going to be rough. Our numbers are really low,” said McClanahan, who has coached at Clifton-Clyde for 33 years. “We’ll be building back up.” Clifton-Clyde will return two starters, Dani Seifert, a senior forward, and sister Taylor Seifert, a junior guard.

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ounger, more inexperienced players will be expected to step into leadership roles this season as the Lady Hornets move on after their 2011-12 loss in the championship game of sub-state to Ingalls. Returning starters Leslie Speer, 5-10 junior forward; Liz Heath, 5-10 junior forward; and Diamond Brown, 5-8 junior guard, will combine with newcomers Shambrey Budd, 5-8 junior forward, and Kiara Budd, 5-6 freshman guard, to make up this year’s team. “We have a big junior class who will have to become the leaders of the team to go with a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are very inexperienced,” coach Amy Felker said. “We will work hard to improve every day in practice. Before Christmas could be rocky learning to gel with the younger girls, but should be a fun group to watch grow this year. I believe that we can compete and look strong at the end of the year. “We must gain confidence in our outside shooting, which will open up our inside game,” she said. “Playing tough defense for 32 minutes. We must believe in our team.” Hornets The Hornets return experience in senior Ryan Kuhlman, a two-time allleague selection, as well as junior Isaac Alinor who has started at point guard for the previous two seasons. Other parttime starters — Matthew Mulville, Dirk Torson, Trevor Bollinger, and Sam Moomaw, also add depth. “We should have a good season, our boys have had a good summer program and if we keep them injury-free during the football season we expect to be competitive,” said coach Earl Steffens. With as many upper-classmen as Dighton has coming back, it is unlikely that this year’s team will not be ready to go out of the gate. “Our shooting has improved the last two years, and we look for more ipmprovement, good depth, and team play.” With seven boys returning that have seen a lot of playing time, our expectations are very high. Other keys are to stay injury free and improve our defense,” said coach Steffens. “These boys have learned what it takes to win and that will be a big plus. It should be an exciting winter for the Dighton boys’ basketball team.”

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Lakeside Knights

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he Knights made school history a year ago when they became the first Lakeside team to win substate. They lost in the first round of state, ending the season with a 22-2 record. Can the Knights do it again this year? Lakeside has no returning starters; however, Coach Kyle Beisner, who is starting his ninth year here, is optimistic. “Despite losing a great group of seniors, we return a very hardworking group that has experienced success since they entered high school,” Beisner said. “We expect to pick up where we left off last year.” Beisner said the Knights must be tough defensively. “Scoring some nights will come at a premium but we should be solid defensively night in and night out.”

Katy Sullivan moves the ball for Lakeside.

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ast year, the WheatlandGrinnell boys’ basketball team reached the Class 1A, Division II state tournament as the No. 8 seed. The Thunderhawks finished 10-14 under Coach Charles Packard. They lost to Hope in the first round of the state tournament, 43-23, the fewest points ever scored by 1A boys’ team in a state tournament game. “I’m sure at the start of the year nobody expected this,” Packard said of reaching state. Wheatland-Grinnell graduated all five starters. Junior Austin Lager’s 2.1 points per game is the most among returners. Packard was out of coaching for about six years before he returned to coaching again last year. He led Wheatland to a third place finish in 1998. Lady Hawks The girls’ squad reached the substate championship game and lost to Logan. The girls finished 13-10 under veteran coach Tyler Flavin (97-100 in nine years). Flavin lost his leading scorer and rebounder in Megan Heier (10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds) and returns four starters in 5-4 junior Hannah Gillespie, 5-8 senior Brooke Ostmeyer, 5-8 junior Paige Ramey and 5-9 junior Tristan Rathgeber. Ostmeyer averaged 8.3 points a contest, the lone returning player who averaged more than 4.9 points per game. She also finished second behind Heier with 3.4 rebounds. Gillespie led the team with 2.3 assists a contest. Plus, 5-3 junior Shania Dirks, 5-5 senior Brandi Goetz, 5-5 sophomore Taylor Tustin and 5-6 sophomore Tenille Tholen could see a significant role for the Thunderhawks.


Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

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Hanover Wildcats

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enior Cody Nieman, a 6-foot-1 guard, is the only starter Coach Kim Lohse has from a team that ended its 2011-12 season with an 18-4 record and a loss in the sub-state championship game. Two others — junior Wade Steinfort, 6-foot-1 forward; and senior Mark Zarybricky, 6-foot guard — have varsity experience, but Lohse will be looking for four new starters to fill out the roster. “Expectations are always high, but until football is over at a small school, you don’t know about injuries and how strong you might be ... We will definitely have to rely on some younger players to grow up in a hurry,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, but just not a lot of varsity experience and we will have to continue to mature as the season goes on. We might struggle on the offensive end so our defense will have to be strong every night.” Lady Wildcats Hanover’s Claire Bruna, a second team all-league selection for the 2011-12 season, returns this year, as does fellow starters Courtney Jueneman and Colleen Klecan. They will have big shoes to fill as the Lady ‘Cats’ all-state honorable mention player, Micaella Beikmann, the team’s leading scorer and leader, was lost last season to graduation. She was a point guard. Despite Beikmann’s exit, Coach Ryan Doebele expects to have “a pretty good core group.” He said Bruna, a small forward, “does a little bit of everything. “We’re a small team so we run and we press,” Doebele said. The Hanover girls tied for fourth in their league this past season. “I think we can be just as good or better this year,” he said. “Our goal is to go back to state.”

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Hope Lions

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ope’s All-League point guard, senior Raelyn Lorson, 5-foot-5, returns this year after being sidelined with surgery. She will be joined by three other starters from last year’s 20-3 Wheat State League champion sub-state runner-up team: seniors Abi Dillon, 5-6 guard; Jordyn Barten, 5-3 guard; and Jenny Whitehair, 5-6 forward. “We return an experienced team but have low numbers,” said Coach Chris Brown. “Keys to success are staying healthy and finding an inside presence for rebounding and scoring.”

Hope player Nathan Lorsan is challenged during the 2011-12 season.

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We always have high expectations, and will again this year.” Coach Shelly Hoyt’s comment pretty much sums it up. Coming off a 24-1 record and a Class 1A-Division 1 state championship in the 2011-2012 season, the Lady Indians and Coach Hoyt have set a precedent for the level of success they demand from their program. If younger players can step up for Hoxie, the Lady Indians should be able to make another state championship run in Kansas’s 1A-Division 1 class. Returning starters: Krisina Farber, 5-10 junior; Carlly Heim, 5-7 sophomore; Lexi Schamberger 5-8 sophomore. Indians Hoxie coach Aaron Dardis is a seasoned veteran with eight years at the helm of the Indians, and a successful overall varsity coaching record of 10865. He expects to improve on that record this year after last year’s 20-5 finish. “The bar is set really high after last year, and since we are returning some core players, we intend to have an even better season. We’ll settle for nothing less than championships, but we remember to play one game at a time before we think about the next one.” Two key returning starters are junior guards Cade Spresser and Chase Kennedy. Joining them will be 6-foot-4 post player Mitchel Johnson, 5-foot-11 forward Tyler Kaus, and sophomore Connor Katt. With Spresser at 6-foot-1 and able to play both outside and inside, Dardis believes the team can, “play small or play big, whatever we need,” and press its advantage with the different looks they can show opponents. Key to improving over last year will be “taking care of the ball and getting the best shots we can.” Daridis added, “Unselfish team play has always been our team strength and we expect nothing different this year.”

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

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ith a 14-8 record from a year before, two starters coming back, and a new commitment to their program under a first year head coach, John Boden, the Longhorns have a lot of upside coming into the 2012-2013 season. Changing the culture will be the name of the game this year. “We will play defense,” insists Coach John Boden. “Players have made championship runs in football the past couple years. They need to work harder and be more committed in basketball to do the same.” The Longhorns come off a solid 14-8 record in the 2011-12 season that saw them finish as the runner-up in sub-state. It is not a stretch to assume that with a new, solid commitment on defense, and athletes that have competed for state championships in other sports, this team could eventually turn a solid record and a runner-up in substate finish into a spot in the state playoffs. Thunder Ridge basketball could be very exciting in years to come. Returning players: Trevor Lowe, 6-2, senior; Garrett Krueger, 6-2, junior. Lady Longhorns Coach Darren Grauerholz puts “ball control” at the top of his list keys to success for the 2012-13 season. It’s all part of his expectation “to have a chance to win each game and develop our young players.” The Lady Longhorns went 16-6 last season. Three players will return: seniors Brittany Kirchoff, 5-10 guard; Jackie Reneberg, 6-0 center; and Amber Schmid, 5-7 guard.

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oach Rob Holopirek has posted a 47-39 record with the Leopards, and a 65-63 career overall. He enters his fifth year with LaCrosse and seventh season as a coach. Last year, Holopirek helped the Leopards navigate through an always tough Central Prairie League with an 11-10 record, 5-3 in league play. La Crosse returns just one starter in senior guard/forward Kip Keeley. However, Keeley is one of Kansas’ top all-around athletes. Keeley averaged 14 points and 6.2 rebounds a contest, both team-highs. He also finished with 39 steals, most among returners. “We will try to use our athleticism to our advantage,” Holopirek said. “We want to play hard, play smart and play together.” In addition to Keeley, three players should see significant playing time: senior 5-8 guard William Storie, senior 5-9 guard Derrick Depperschmidt and junior 6-3 forward Marshall Jay. Senior Clayton Basgall, the team leader with 45 steals and the Leopards’ fourth-leading scorer at 7.3 points per game last year, won’t play after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the summer. Lady Leopards Laron Nordstedt takes over the Leopards’ girls’ basketball program. This will be his first year as a head coach after he was a La Crosse assistant boys’ coach. Last winter, La Crosse finished 9-11 and lost to St. John, the eventual state runner-up, in sub-state. La Crosse returns two starters in 5-2 senior guard Rachel Weigel and 5-8 sophomore guard Ashley Depperschmidt. Nordstedt wants to improve each day throughout the season and wants the team to be playing its best basketball by the end. “One key to a successful season is that the girls learn the system,” Nordtstedt said. “As it is my first year as their head coach, it will be important that they pick up and understand my system/concepts, and get to the point where they are comfortable and know what I expect. Also, another key will be building/gaining confidence as we have a young team. Several underclassmen are expected to contribute and have key roles in the season.”

See ad from LaCrosse parents on Page 35.

Linn Bulldogs

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oach Brittni Oehmke plans to build on the fundamentals her young Lady Bulldogs learned last season, when they ended the year with a record of 5-16. “We had a young team last year and our main focus was fundamentals. This year I hope to continue with the progress we made and put some more wins on the board,” she said. Oehmke is in her second season at Linn as head girls’ basketball coach. All five starters from the 2011-12 team return: senior Kayle Ohlde, 5-10 center/forward; sophomore Nicole Ohlde, 5-10 forward; and junior guards Acacia Thalman, 5-6; Sami Meier, 5-6; and Lauren Oehmke, 5-5. “For our girls it will be hard work and maintaining confidence throughout the year,” Coach Oehmke said of the season ahead, “They are a very capable team, they just have to believe.” Bulldogs The Bulldogs are a young team, but Linn has a lot of potential strength in its junior class, according to Jeremy Miller, who is in his first year as a high school coach. “We will be very young with a lot of depth in the junior class,” Miller said. “We have a lot of size on the inside, which will help us down the stretch. Guard play, limited second shot opportunities and aggressive defense will be the areas key to our success this season.” The Bulldogs have no returning starters; however, returning lettermen are Zak Voelker, senior 5-8 guard; and juniors Josh Meyer, 6-0 guard, Nathan Schaefer, 6-2 forward; and Bret Peters, 6-2 guard. Linn finished the 2010-11 season with a record of 15-6 — 6-6 in league. “We will be a young team that will have to develop quickly with little varsity experience,” Miller said. “We have a lot of potential in 1A down the stretch. Being in one of the top leagues in the state will definitely help prepare us for sub-state competition at the end of the season.”

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Logan Trojans

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he Lady Trojans are starting from scratch this season after finishing the 2011-12 season with a record of 15-9 and taking a substate championship. Logan lost to Wetmore in the first round of state competition. “We are a young team with talent,” said Brandon Gehring, who is in his third year as the Lady Trojans coach. “We should finish our season better as a team than the start and hopefully have a winning season.” Gehring said the keys to success will be: solid defense, limited turnovers and playing to win every game.

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Trojans action during the Depth and height 2011-12 season. will be keys to this year’s season for the Trojans. “Hopefully, we can get some more players out and mature,” said coach Paul Prewo. “This could be a decent year if we get the right kids out and have the right attitude.” Logan had 1 win and 20 losses in the 2011-12 season. Prewo is in his fifth year as the Trojans head coach. His overall record is 15-69. Returning starters are: Chad Becker, 5-6, junior guard; Lane Archer, 6-0, senior forward; and Aaron Tien, 5-10, sophomore guard. “We could play as many as 10 players this year,” Prewo said. “We hopefully will play multiple defenses to cause havoc on the offense.”

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

Simons, 5-9, junior wing; Shelby Makovec, 5-4, sophomore guard. From the 2010-11 team: Ellie Miller, 5-8, senior forward; Anna Weber, 5-9, senior forward; Bryanna Svoboda, 5-7, junior guard. Cougars Coach Greg Wyatt expects his Cougars to compete for the Wheat State League and sub-state titles this year, thus qualifying the Centre boys for state. He also expects his players to compete with good sportsmanship and character. Returning starters from last year’s 9-12 team are: seniors Justin Deines, 5-11, guard, and James Wyatt, 6-0, guard/forward; and junior guards Ty Simons, 5-10, and Grant Srajer, 5-5. Also returning will be seniors Kodey Johnson, guard, and Cory Brunzell, guard/forward; and junior forwards Chad Mueller and Kyle Methurn. Wyatt, who holds a 30-year win-loss record of 454-229, said there are five keys to success: stay healthy, work hard every day, push each other to get everyone working harder and better, good senior leadership and good chemistry.

La Crosse Leopards tballll Baske

2012-13 Schedule Nov. 30 Dec. 3-8 Dec. 11 Dec. 14 Dec. 18 Jan. 8 Jan. 11 Jan. 14-19 Jan. 22 Jan. 25 Jan. 29 Feb. 1 Feb. 5 Feb. 8 Feb. 12 Feb. 19 Feb. 25-28 Mar. 1-2 Mar. 6-9

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Come out and support the boys and girls basketball teams on the court! -LaCrosse Booster Club & LaCrosse Parents

Elyria Eagles

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oach Jeff Fields says his Lady Eagles have the potential “to be a very good defensive

team.” “I expect us to fight hard every game, and improve throughout the season. We lost four starters from last year’s team and some of the younger girls are going to need to step up and replace the scoring we lost.” The Eagles, who went 16-6 last year, return 5-foot-9 Abby Fields, a senior who averaged 7 points per game in the 2011-12 season. Returning lettermen are: Cori Mines, 5-11; juniors Grace Applequist, 5-4 and Emily Elyria’s Lady Thiessen, 5-9; and Eagles control sophomore the ball in a Anna Adamyk, 2010-2011 game. 5-6. Fields is in his third year as Elyria’s head coach. He said the Lady Eagles will have to do several things this year to be successful, including finding a point guard who can handle pressure and make good decisions, developing the team’s younger talent; and becoming better shooters. Elyria Boys The Eagles have a new coach and a lot of floor experience. Ben Starburg is in his first year of coaching at Elyria Christian High School. On his roster are four starters from 2011-12, when the Eagles ended the season with a record of 4-17: seniors Daniel Froese, 6-2 post; and Josh Nichols, 5-10 guard; and sophomores Matthew Gemmer, 5-9 guard; and Ethan Price, 5-8 guard. “Our expectations are to improve daily,” Starburg said. “The key to our success will be in our execution of the fundamentals of the game.”

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oger Perkins, a 30-year veteran of coaching, sees a lot of potential in this year’s Southern Cloud Warriors. The Warriors finished the 201112 season with a disappointing 3-17 record; however, four starters will return this year. They are: senior Grady Brayton, 6-foot-3 forward; and juniors Braydon Prohascka, 5-foot-7 guard, Dakota Cooper, 6-foot forward and Ryan Perkins, 5-foot-1 guard. Four other lettermen — juniors Storm Myer, Jason McDaniel and Lance Heller and sophomore Joel Jamison — also will return. Perkins, who has been head boys’ coach at Southern Cloud for two years, said the key to the Warriors success this season is coming together and playing as a team. “We have a lot of potential returning players, but we need to continue improving on where we ended last year. I think this team could be a good team by the middle of the 12-13 basketball season,” Perkins said. An interesting note about the Warriors — last year, their roster included six foreign exchange students; there are four this year. “They worked their tails off,” Perkins said of his 2011-12 experience with the students. Lady Warriors Southern Cloud’s new girls’ head coach is Tyler Williams, who came to the Miltonvale-Glasco combined team from Winona and Lawrence. The Lady Warriors finished last season with a 7-14 record. They return three players who saw significant floor time: Molly Schmidt, Alisha Castro and Shannon Wallace. Superintendent Roger Perkins, who also is the boys’ coach, said finding a point guard will be a priority this season. He said 15 girls and 28 boys are out for basketball.

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Centre Cougars

he Centre girls are loaded with experience this season. Four players were part of the 2011-12 team, which logged a 13-10 record and were 1A Division I substate champions at Goessel. The Lady Cougars of Lost Springs lost in the first round of state competition to Hoxie, the eventual champions. Three others players started in 2009-10, but didn’t play this past season. “With all of the experience returning this year, we should be solid throughout the season,” said Alan Stahlecker, who has been at Centre for eight years, three years as head coach. His overall record is 85-84. He said this season’s keys to success are: stepping up the pressure on defense, continued ability to score from both inside and outside, players remain healthy and injury-free and continued good team chemistry. “While we won’t overpower many teams, I expect us to be competitive with anybody in 1A and 2A.,” Stahlecker said. Returning starters from 2011-12: Beka Basore, 5-9, senior post; Genesis Rudolph, 5-4, senior guard; Cacey

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1 Serv com m ing the u n it of: ies Alton•Bellaire•Bloomington Burr Oak•Corinth•Downs•Lebanon Luray•Mankato•Osborne•Portis•Waldo

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Natoma Tigers

urt Grafel enters his third year as head coach for Natoma. The Tigers finished 4-17 last season, but bring back valuable experience from the 2011-2012 season. “We will have three starters back plus some good young athletes,” said coach Kurt Grafel. “Obviously we hope to improve on the past two seasons with more wins. I believe we can compete with every team and win every game we should, and some that maybe we shouldn’t.” Coach Grafel hasn’t taken the offseason for granted either. Grafel worked with his team over the summer to prepare some of his younger players to step into varsity roles within their program. “We played in summer league, so hopefully the younger players understand what it takes to play varsity basketball. Every player needs to continue

to work on basic skills and have an attitude that we can and will win games. We will only have one senior and he will have to be our leader for us to be successful.” Returning starters: Philip Murphy, 6’2” senior; Cale Hooper, 6’1” junior; Jackson Meiers, 5’10” junior. Lady Tigers After a 12-10 season in 2010-11 – Natoma’s first winning season in seven seasons — the Tigers dropped back to 7-14 last year. But veteran Aaron Homburg said the team never got down and remained positive throughout the winter. That solid team chemistry and plenty of talent could lead to a strong season for the Tigers this winter. Natoma brings back senior forward Danica Casey, one of Kansas’ top players. She has averaged double figures in each season of her career and averaged 19.7 points last season.

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his will be a bittersweet season for the Lady Dogs as they move out of the Mid-Continent

League. “I would like to think we can compete for a league title,” said coach Brad Roadhouse, who is in his second year as head coach. “It would be nice winning the Mid-Continent tournament before departing. We are now one of the smallest schools in the league competing at the 1A Division I level.” Osborne finished last season with a 7-14 record. Six players return, including Jessica Princ, a 5-8 junior forward who missed games last year because of injuries. Other returning players: Rachel St. Clair, 5-5 senior guard; Alyssa Windle, 5-8 senior forward; Baylee Wolters, 5-7 junior guard; Taylor Noel, 5-4 junior guard; and Caitlyn Miller, 5-8 junior forward. Roadhouse said the keys to posting a winning record will be improved play as the season continues. The Lady Dogs also

must avoid injuries. “Last year, we had a couple of girls who were key players go down with injuries,” the coach said. “We have a good nucleus of girls returning, maturing as a group as the year progresses. Princ and Miller, along with our seniors girls, need to step forward. We also need bench play so our underclassmen will be key.” Bulldogs After coaching the girls’ team, this will be Jamie Wolters’ first season as the boys’ head basketball coach. His goal is to make sure his players “learn to be competitive.” This comes after a season in which the Bulldogs compiled a disappointing 0-19 record. Returning starters are: junior Kenton Ubelaker, 5-8 guard (8 ppg.) and senior Colin Clark, 6-1 guard (4 ppg.). Other returning players are: Jayson Carswell, Maverick LeRock, Alan Mick and Brandt Wolters.

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Otis-Bison Cougars

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tis-Bison has enjoyed the best two seasons in boys’ basketball history the last two years. In 2010-11, the Cougars finished third in Class 1A, Division II. Last year, Otis-Bison finished 18-8 and lost to Frankfort in the state championship game in Class 1A, Division II. Then, coach Alan Clark took over as the Barton County Community College women’s assistant coach. Bryant Briggs, formerly the junior high coach, takes over the varsity. He returns one starter in 6-1 senior guard Dylan Wissman, a key cog on the last two squads and one of the classification’s top players. In addition, Briggs will have several upperclassmen who should step into starting roles, including 6-4 senior post Tyler Maier, 6-foot senior guard Justus Bartonek, 6-1 senior post Sam Higgason, 6-foot junior guard Kole Urban, and junior 6-2 post Jordan Hoffman.

Lady Cougars Richard Schmidt returns four letterwinners and three returning starters from last year’s squad that finished 11-11. The squad will have four seniors, one junior, five sophomores and likely two freshmen. Otis-Bison graduated all-league forward Janel Tammen, a state champion in powerlifting. Otis-Bison’s returning starters are senior guard Hanna Bannister, senior forward Kim Pechanec and junior guard Annie Kraisinger. Tammen averaged 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. Bannister averaged 8.3 points and Kraisinger tacked on 6.5 points and a team-high 2.7 assists. “We will not have a dominant post player like we had last year, we will become more guard oriented and will try to press more,” Schmidt said. “We won’t have much size so we will have to rely on defense and outside shooting.”

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oach Chris Drees has nearly led the Roosters’ boys’ basketball team to its first state appearance in 66 years, but Palco lost in the sub-state championship game last year. Drees, who helped Thomas More Prep-Marian win two state titles as the lead assistant, has turned around Palco program. Palco went winless in his first season and then improved to 12-9 in his second season. In his third year, the Roosters won a school record 19 contests and Drees earned Hays Daily News Coach of the Year honors. Last year, Palco went 9-14 and pushed Drees’ career record to 50-59 in five years. He returns four starters in 6-foot senior Chase Newell, 6-1 senior Alex

H erita ge In su ra n ce G ro u p O ffices in Phillipsburg, Logan, Stockton and Palco w w w .h erita gein su ra n cegro u p.n et

Benoit, 6-foot senior Mike Knipp and 6-4 senior Seth Armbrister. Sophomore Brent Gehring (6-foot), sophomore Kolt Newell (5-7) and freshman Dustin Hamel (5-11) could all see plenty of playing time. Lady Roosters Last year, the Rooster girls finished 5-15 and graduated just two seniors in Katelyn Marcotte and Justine Cadoret. Palco averaged just 37 points per contest, including 12.1 from Kali Newell, a 5-foot-3 guard entering her senior year. Juniors Kiley Marcotte, Fallyn Handley, Maddy McCellan and sophomore Jaci Benoit are all players who could play a key role for first-year coach Justin Pierce. Palco-Damar-Zurich Recreation Commission P.O. Box 53 Palco, Kansas

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Kansas Hardwood, Volume 1

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his will be a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs. “We lost our leading scorers and rebounders to graduation and we will be challenged with our lack of height and depth,” said Coach John Crist. “Hopefully, we will improve as the season moves forward.” This will be Crist’s 20th year as head boys’ coach. His overall record at Quinter is 335-110 and he has six state tournament trips and one state title on his resume. Crist said staying healthy will be the key to success this year. Colton Corwin, a junior forward, was benched all of the past season with an injury. “We will not have many numbers out and injuries will make it difficult for us,” Crist said. “We will also really need to be strong on the rebounding aspect.” Returning starters: Brett Crist, 6-1, sophomore guard; Tyler Waggoner, 5-6, sophomore guard. Other players: Corwin, 6-0, junior forward; Branden Kerns, 6-0, senior post; Ryan Tebow, 5-9, junior guard; Jesse Roesch, 5-10, junior guard; Chance Smith, 5-10, senior guard. Lady Bulldogs Coach Katie Blackwill took over a Quinter girls’ basketball program that went through a 3-18 season in 200910. In her first year, she led the Bulldogs to an eight-win improvement and an 11-11 record. Last year, Quinter finished 10-12 and lost to Hoxie in the sub-state championship game. Hoxie went on to win the Class 1A, Division I state title. The Bulldogs will return three fulltime starters in senior 5-9 Brooke Flax, senior 5-10 forward Kylie Werth, and senior 5-2 guard Missy Reed. Blackwill had several other players who started occasionally: senior Jaci Crist and juniors Katie Kuntz and Jessica Schneider. Flax is the returning leading scorer and rebounder and tallied a season-high of 26 points.

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Golden Plains

f the 2011-12 season is any indication, there could be a state championship game in the Lady Bulldogs’ future this season. Rexford’s Golden Plains returns all five of their starters from last year and three substitutes. The women ended the season 12-10 — nine of those wins coming in the final nine games of the season. They lost in sub-state semifinals. “Expectations will be through the roof — make it to the state tournament and play in state championship game,” said Parker Christensen, who has served 18 years as a head coach, 17 of them at Rexford. Returning starters include juniors Kyle Jones, 5-10 forward, and Jordan Christensen, 5-10: guard/forward. Both were selected for all-league as sophomores. Jones also received honorable mention in all-state. They will be joined by junior Leea Juenemann, 5-7 forward; senior Angela Ritter, 5-7 guard; and Hailee Spresser, 5-8 forward/guard. Christensen said the keys to success this season will be to “get off to a good start early in the season, play solid team defense and stay healthy.” Bulldogs Golden Plains has no starters returning from last year’s 3-18 team, but Coach Mike Doll still expects his Bulldogs to step up. “We expect improvement for every drill, play or practice to prepare us for the games,” he said. “We also expect to compete in practice and in games every day at all levels.” Doll said Golden Plains’ key for success is “competition day in and day out. Competition will turn our mentality to where it needs to be to play at the highest level. Staying the course is another big key for us. We need to stay together so we can be playing our best at the end of the year.”

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econd-year Coach Quinten Bergstrom expects optimism to continue to grow in 201213 following last year’s 18-6 season, which resulted in a state tournament appearance in 1A Division 1 at Emporia for the Pike Valley girls. Senior Kora Bergstrom, a senior forward/guard, is expected to lead a talented and athletic Lady Panther squad. The Freed twins — Courtney and Casey — led Pike Valley to last year’s state track title and will contribute to any hardwood success the lady Panthers enjoy this year. Junior Jade Runft will make a much-anticipated return after missing last season because of a knee injury. “Look for a return trip to Emporia,” Bergstrom predicted. Here are Bergstrom’s keys to success: Staying healthy while developing depth at all positions; addition and progression of junior center Jade Runft; addition of former Republic County head coach Randy Thayer to the coaching staff; and maturation from previous experience. “Schedule will be challenging in the strong Northern Plains League as well as contests against state-ranked 2A opponents Washington County and Smith Center and 4A Concordia,” Returning starters: Kora Bergstrom, 6-0, senior forward/guard; Courtney Freed, 5-7, junior guard; Casey Freed, 5-6, junior guard/forward.

oung is the best word to describe both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Wallace County High School, Sharon Springs, for the 2012-13 season. The Lady Wildcats finished the 2011-12 season with a win-loss record of 18-10 and the championship title in 1A Division II. “We lost two very important seniors from last year. We will be young and inexperienced, but we’’ll grow as the season develops,” said coach Landon Steele, who has been at Sharon Springs for three years and has an overall record of 46-29. Steele said the keys to success this year is working to get better everyday and quick development. Returning starters: Jordan Compton, 5-6, junior; Rachael Kuhlman, 5-8, sophomore; Tatum Elder, 5-8, senior. Wildcats The boys’ team will return five players — two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. “I expect to be very good, but still very young,” said Larry O’Connor, who has coached at Sharon Springs for three years before leaving in 2004. He returned in 2012. His overall record, which includes Brewster, is 213-71. Returning players: Gavin Mote, 5-9, senior; Eli Kuhlman, 5-9, senior; Cayden Daily, 5-9, junior; Clay Schemm, 6-1, junior; Nate Klinger, 6-0, sophomore.

Panthers Coach Gary Loring will have a good foundation on which to build this season. The Panthers return four starters: Cade Huncovsky, guard; Quinton Isaacson, forward; Robert Cox, guard; and Aaron Swanson, point guard. Pike Valley went 6-15 in the 2011-12 season.

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ark Wildeman enters his second he Lady Indians won’t lack for year at Stockton and his fourth experience this season. They year overall after he served as return four starters: sophoPalco boys’ basketball coach for two seasons more Kyla Bandel, 5-foot-5 guard; many years ago. Wildeman has orchestrated senior Clarice Neitzel, 5-foot-10 post; a big turnaround with the Stockton girls’ junior Aly Schlepp, 5-foot-10 post; and basketball and volleyball teams. Stockton senior Laura Brunk, 5-foot-6 forward. volleyball improved from “I expect them to be 12-17 to 20-7 and a loss in more aggressive,” said secthe sub-state championship ond year head coach game this year. Stockton Susan Dinkel, whose girls’ basketball won just overall record stands at one game the season before 13-29. Wildeman came and col“I am hoping they are lected four victories last better shooters and stronwinter. ger.” Stockton returns two The Lady Indians finstarters in 5-10 senior forished last season with a ward Sierra Brown and 5-6 6-15 record. sophomore guard Morgan Dinkel said the keys to Beougher. Brown was the success in 2012-13 will be leading scorer and positive leadership and rebounder last season at 11 “not quitting on ourselves points and just under 10 or each other.” rebounds a contest. Indians Beougher tacked on about Coach Jeff Biems eight points and about returns two starters from three rebounds a contest. a 10-11 team last year. Senior 5-6 guard Hannah One of the biggest hits Lindsey is expected to be a comes from losing a senior key contributor, too. who averaged almost two Brown was the team’s dozen points a game. top player last winter and is “We lost a prolific scorexpected to lead again this er to graduation who averyear. Stockton graduated aged over 21 points a six seniors off last year’s game, so he will be tough team and won’t have much to replace.” depth. The Indians will benefit “We are still going to from getting two underhave to continue our defenclassmen experience last year. Coach Biems added, Koby Beougher sive play because we are a little restricted with “We have a couple of incoming sophomore post prepares to throw the offense,” Wildeman said. “… players who got quite a bit ball in bounds. We are definitely going to have to get some younger of playing time last year due girls conditioned to play at a varsity speed.” to injury. I think that will help them Tigers this year.” Tom Stephens, who has coached at the “I think the key to our success is high school level and for many years at going to be consistency on both sides of Colby Community College, takes over the the ball. These guys have shown the boys’ program from Adam North. Stockton ability to play lock-down defense at went 6-15 last winter, but had a very young times, and light up the score board, but team. Its top seven scorers return, including only in spurts. Part of our issue last year 6-3 sophomore forward Justin Wiltfong was a lack of depth. Assuming I can (11.2 points per game), 6-0 senior guard keep guys healthy, that shouldn’t be a Koby Beougher (10.5) and 6-4 sophoproblem this year.” more forward Jaden Williams (10.4). Returning starters: Dylan Peter, 6-4, Beougher led the team with 2.6 assists, senior; Mason Schlitz, 6-0, guard.

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he Sylvan-Lucas Mustangs hope to have sophomores and freshman who want to step up to make their team competitive this season. Coach Jude Stecklein said his team is young. “Growing experience and developing guard play will be key,” he said. Sylvan returns two starters after fielding a team the year before that finished with a record of 16-5 and a trip to state semifinals. Returning starters: Brogan Naylor, 6-0, senior forward; Nick Lawson, 6-2, junior Jenesa guard/for- Sylvan’s ward. Hlad moves the

ball against Wilson Lady Mustangs during the 2011There’s a new coach 12 season. in town — Jason Seehafer — who will have two returning starters in the lineup, Taylor Workman, a 5-10 senior, and Michaela Merchant, a 6-1 junior. Both are posts. Seehafer said his job is simple this coming season, “We have to play good defense and find some scorers.” Seehafer replaces Sylvan-Unified coaching legend Mike Weatherman who took the Mustang football and Lady Mustang basketball teams to state championships multiple times in nearly 40 years of coaching.

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he Tescott Trojans have three returning starters for the 2012-13 season — Austin Herbel, senior guard and forward, and Kyle Comstock and Joey Huerta, junior guards. The boys finished the 2011-12 season with a 9-12 record, being defeated in post season play in the first round of substate by mighty Central Christian of Hutchinson. Shawn Pecenka, who is starting his 14th year as the Trojans coach, is looking for more contributions from the bench this year. “We will need to defend and rebound better than we did last season,” said Pecenka, whose overall record at Tescott is 139-125. “These things along with taking care of the basketball and contributions from the bench will determine how much success we experience this year. “We should be competitive once again, just have to learn how to get over the hump in close ball games. Team has potential to be good, just depends on how hard they work and how bad they want it.” Returning players: Austin Herbel, 5-11, guard/forward; Kyle Comstock, 5-9, guard; Joe Huerta, 5-7, guard.

Note to Readers — We apologize for any teams that might be missing from this first edition of Kansas Hardwood. Every effort will be made to include them in the 2013-14 edition.

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Victoria Knights

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n 2011-12, the Victoria Lady Knights were seeded No. 5 at the Class 1A Division II State Tournament. This came after being crowned sub-state champions. The goal this year is “to build on what we started last season,” said coach Anne Dinkel, who coached her Lady Knights to a 17-7 season. To succeed, team members must be physically and mentally prepared because the schedule is tougher, Dinkel said. She said this year’s keys to success will be: teamwork and commitment, strong inside and outside games, hustle and quickness on defense. Three Lady Knights starters return this year: Ashley Dome, 5-3 senior guard; Kristin Huser, 5-3 junior guard; and Audra Nowak, 5-9 junior forward. Nowak and Huser, who have played together since fourth grade, have been starters since they were freshmen. Victoria Knights A young team that ended the season with a 10-13 record and as a sub-state runnerup is back, almost intact for the 2012-13 season. “My expectation is to improve on the progress we made as a young team last year,” said coach Stu Moeckel. The Knights will return four starters: senior Lane Braun, 6-3 guard; senior Dalton Dreiling, 6-0 guard; junior Sam Ottley, 6-2 post; and sophomore Brian Dome, 5-6 point guard. Other starters: junior Clayton Roth, 6-0 guard; junior Tanner Hobbs, 6-1 guard; junior Conner Gagnon, 6-3 guard. Moeckel said the keys to success this year will be to “play smart and get better every game as we grow as a team.”

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on Smith takes over the WaKeeney-Trego Community girls’ program from Ricky Snyder after Snyder served as either the junior high head coach and assistant for eight years. Last season, WaKeeney-Trego went 14-8, but graduated all but one starter: 5-foot-6 senior Bailee Fritts. She averaged 5.1 points per game, fourth-most on the team. Her 112 points are nearly three times as many as any returner. Smith said keys to the season are defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball. “Expectations are to be fundamentally sound and play with heart and character,” Smith said. “Year one will be building a strong foundation to create a complete Lady Eagle program. Our goals are to keep it simple and get better each day. We will place high expectations on our development throughout the season and hope to be playing our best basketball when it counts.” Golden Eagles The Golden Eagles bring back three starters from a 9-13 team last year. Coach Lance Ziegler is taking the season one step at a time. “Our expectations will include finishing with at least 15 wins, and placing in the top three in our preseason tournament and our league tournament,” Coach Ziegler said. “If we are playing well enough at the conclusion of the season we should have the opportunity to compete for a sub-state championship and hopefully qualify for the state tournament.” Keys to the Golden Eagles’ success will be playing with better team chemistry and improving their defense, Ziegler said. Returning starters: John Griffith, 5-11 senior; Clayton Riedel, 6-3 junior; Devon Ghumm, 6-1 junior.

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Weskan Coyotes

After an 11-10 season last winter, second-year coach Nolan Cox will have one of the top players in western Kansas back this winter in 6-foot-2 senior center Sam McKinney. He is one of four starters back for the Coyotes, joining 5-foot-10 senior point guard Jared McKinney, 5-foot-9 junior small forward Tyler Compton and 6-foot junior forward/shooting guard Hayden Walker. “I look to have a really good team this year,” Cox said. Plus, Brandon Escamilla would have started last year, but suffered a seasonending knee injury in the first game of last winter. Last year, Sam McKinney averaged 19 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocks a contest. Jared McKinney averaged 11.1 points per contest for a team that averaged 43 points a contest. Cox said the team’s keys are to stay healthy and out of foul trouble with the “big guys.” He looks for the team to rebound the ball better and improve its transition offense. “We should be improved on our depth this year compared to last and we also will be a much improved shooting team,” Cox said. “Our defense was always good last year we just had trouble scoring at times and I believe that will be that will be a different story this year.” Lady Coyotes The Weskan girls finished 14-7 last season under first-year coach Val Reiss. Weskan lost 29-28 to its rival Sharon Springs in sub-state; Sharon Springs went on to win the Class 1A, Division II state championship. The Coyotes graduated four of its top five and its top two scorers in Jori Mote (12.9 points per game) and Kellie Young (12.2). Center Kelsey Hale, a 6-foot-1 junior, is the lone returner who had significant contributions last year. She averaged 6.1 points and led the team with 7.2 rebounds.

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eteran coach Rod Seehafer thinks it could be a “really great year” for his Lady Dragons, who went 17-5 in 2011-12 and lost in sub-state to Central Christian of Hutchinson. Wilson returns three starters — seniors Karlie Steinle and Tanisha Steinike and junior Shania Steinike, all guards. Seehafer said the challenges for his Lady Dragons will be learning to play together, improving their inside game, developing depth and staying healthy. “It looks like our league is going to be real tough with two teams going to state last year and five teams ranked in 1A and 2A,” he said. Seehafer has coached at Wilson for 36 years and has an overall record of 555-229. Returning starters: K. Steinle, 5-8 guard; T. Steinike, 5-3 guard; and S. Steinike, 5-9 guard. Dragon Boys The Dragons will have a tough year following last season’s trip to substate, where Wilson ended its season with 18 wins against four losses. Two starters return this year, Jordan Bess, 5-foot-8 senior guard, and Cole Zelenka, 5-foot-8 senior guard; Creighton Reeves, 5-foot-10 senior guard; and Marcus Denham, 5-foot-10 junior forward add experience. “We have good experience back, but will need to develop more depth to be able to play up and down like we want to,” said Coach Mark Spears. “We should be very competitive.” Spears has been at Wilson three years and has a 40-6 record.


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Continued from Page 29

Scenes from the

Hardwood By Everett Royer KsportsImages.com

These photos of the 2011-12 Kansas high school basketball season were taken by Everett Royer, whose website is KSportsImages.com. Royer also is responsible for the photos of the three basketballs, which are used as graphic elements on several pages in this first edition of Kansas Hardwood. At left, Victoria and Chase; top, Hoisington and Minneapolis, and above, Hoisington and Great Bend.

ishing inside. Steinle has never shied away from defenders or drawing fouls. “I just have always liked to create contact,” Steinle said. “My freshman year, ... that’s all we did was just go to the bucket, go to the bucket constantly.” As well, Steinle has improved her free throw and 3-point shooting each season. As a freshman, she sank just 5-of25 (20 percent) of treys, averaged 5.3 foul shots a game and shot 60 percent from the free throw line. Sophomore year, she improved to 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) on treys, averaged 7.4 foul shots a game and shot 77.7 percent from the free throw line. As a junior, Steinle improved on those numbers again. She shot 54 percent from the field, 39 percent from the 3-point line and 81 percent on free throws. She averaged 8.1 foul shots a contest. “In junior high, she was a slasher and scorer like that and she has just gotten better and better,” Seehafer said. “Her outside game has gotten better and her free throw game has gotten better. She has shot a lot of free throws.” Against Natoma, Steinle was 1-of-3 from the 3-point line and 2-of-4 from the foul stripe. However, she finished 11-of-12 on 2-point shots. Her ability to score in a variety of ways, especially with her moves and fakes, even worked against Casey. “Our coaches always tell you don’t leave the ground,” Casey said. “Stay straight up and you don’t want to foul. But then again, she will try to get you in the air. It’s pretty good.” Once she reached the rim, Steinle normally made her slight adjustment in mid-air, a move she does subconsciously. “I am probably preparing that I am going to get hit sometimes because I am used to that,” she said. While in mid-air, Steinle released and caromed the ball cleanly on the backboard. It’s technique she has honed day after day for years — and created one of Kansas’ top players.


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Class 1A Extra

Riedel goes beyond free shooting BY SANDRA STENZEL Kansas Hardwood

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layton Riedel, a multi-sport athlete at Trego Community High School (TCHS) in WaKeeney, is known around the state for his free throw shooting prowess. However, it isn’t just his ability to dominate the charity line that makes him exceptional. Hard work and overcoming adversity are his trademarks, and those are things he learned as part of a family of athletes and farmers who’ve put their stamp on youth sports for over a decade. Riedel’s exposure to basketball came early when he and his siblings duked it out daily on a makeshift court in the family machine shed. His three older sisters taught him well that only the tough survive in competition. Courtney, 26, went on to play college basketball at Sterling College, and Cindy, 23, was a standout volleyball player at Bethel College. Sister Catie, 20, played basketball at Pratt Community College and is now a graphic design student at Ft. Hays State University. At 17, Clayton is the last of the family to be competing, but since he’s only a junior this year, his achievements may end up surpassing those of his siblings. Throughout his career, Clayton has had the mixed blessing of being coached by his father, Glenn Riedel, who was himself a champion basketball player. The elder Riedel was part of a TCHS team that made it to the state championship level, but he got his start as a coach with prodding and support from his wife, Tammy. “Tammy was actually the first coach in the family,” Glenn said. “When our kids were little, the local recreation commission wanted to start a youth summer basketball program and she volunteered to be a coach. Tammy said she quickly realized she was going to need help, even though she also played basketball and volleyball in school. “That’s when Glenn got involved, and he’s been coaching kids

in western Kansas ever since,” Tammy said. Having his dad as a coach hasn’t always been easy for Clayton. “He’s pretty hard on me, but he knows what he’s talking about and passes his experience on to make me a better player,” Clayton said. Glenn agreed that having your father as a coach may be a disadvantage. “Sometimes,” he said, “I think I bend over backwards not to show favoritism and may even be harder on him than on the other kids. He may have sat on the bench some times just to prove his dad wasn’t cutting him any breaks.” Clayton says one of the best things about being on his high school team, other than having his dad as the assistant coach, is that he and his team members have been playCourtesy Photo ing together since they Hard work and overcoming adversity are Clayton were in the third grade. Riedel’s trademarks. “We know each other were in vain. Fortunately, with the suppretty well, and we can anticipate what port of his family and fellow round the other guys will do and where they ballers, Riedel now plays with just one will be.” eye, which makes his achievements even Such togetherness over time can also more remarkable. create squabbles, but all in all, they are Clayton’s dad noted that three words brothers on the court. They can disagree describe his son’s ability to overcome like brothers and still come together like such a devastating injury. He commented a family after knowing each other and that “hard work and determination kept playing together throughout their Clayton in basketball.” Glenn tells the careers. story of when Clayton first got back on The brotherly support of his teamthe court following the loss of his eye. mates became crucial in overcoming “He couldn’t even hit the backboard, and what could have been a career ending for a kid that was so skilled and deterinjury when Clayton was 9 years old. mined, it was quite a blow.” He said he He and some friends were shooting BB remembered watching Clayton on his guns when a stray pellet struck Clayton first time back on the court. He worked in the eye. He was rushed to Wichita for surgery, but all efforts to save his eye See RIEDEL, Page 42


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Riedel

Continued from Page 41 for a long time to put the ball through the rim, but still couldn’t even consistently hit the backboard. Finally, in total frustration, Clayton knelt down and slapped the hardwood with both hands, tears streaming down his face. “I walked over to him to talk, and the first thing he did was look up at me and wiped his face. He said ‘Dad, don’t worry about me, I’ll be ok,’ and from that time on, I knew he really would be ok.” Young Clayton’s hours of practice paid off when he started winning the local Knights of Columbus free throw contests while he was still in grade school. He went on to place in the top spots, and eventually placed second in the K of C state competition his seventh grade year. Since then, he has continued to hone his skills as a free throw specialist. “Free throws are all mental, and I just concentrate and shut out the noise and focus on what I’m doing. They say if you can hear the crowd, you’re not focused.” In high school, despite his depth of vision problems, he continues to lead his team in free throw shooting. But Clayton isn’t just a one trick pony. His skills also include clutch rebounding and exceptional passing to go along with his shooting. “He started out as a point guard,” his father said, “and as he’s grown and progressed, he’s pretty much played every position. That’s made him a great all-around player.” This year, Riedel will play the 4-5 positions and spend some time at the wing. At first, the lack of one eye also affected Clayton’s ball handling, but in that arena, he’s also learned to compensate. When dribbling, he moves his head steadily from side to side to scan the court and simulate the depth of vision he lost. Now, he’s known for his ability to see the full court and play accordingly, and, he has the stats to prove it. As a fresh-

"Getting to state is definitely our goal, and we’re putting in the work to do it." Clayton Riedel

WaKeeney basketball player

man, he averaged 7.4 points, 1.4 blocks, and 5.2 rebounds per game. He also had 140 points for the season. But in his sophomore year, he showed marked improvement averaging 13.9 points, 2 blocks, 1.2 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game. His season points total rocketed to 306, making him a real offensive terror. His stats also show year over year improvement, something he hopes will eventually help get his team to state and maybe lead to a college career. “Getting to state is definitely our goal, and we’re putting in the work to do it,” he said with a smile. It’s obvious he can’t wait for the basketball season to start, even though he’s having fun playing tight end on the football team. “We want to not just go to state but to win state, and the other guys are just as determined as I am.” Many parents would like to know the Riedel family secret to motivating their kids to work so hard. Glenn and Tammy say their parents taught them the value of hard work, and their kids picked up the trait by example. “We never had to push our kids to play sports,” Glenn said. “I always told them they didn’t have to do it if they didn’t want to, but if they didn’t play sports, at 3:30, they had to come home and get to work on the family farm.” Farming is something Clayton enjoys in the summer, but he quickly added that “I’d rather play ball than do farm work, so I put in the hours in the weight room and practice.” Mom Tammy agreed that “hard work is valued in our family, and we’re really proud of the hours and the effort and the determination

Clayton and our girls have shown both on and off the court.” Glenn added that “we always told the kids that the first priorities were grades and academics. After that came sports, extra activities, and work.” Clayton has managed to do all three very well, and this year he even has a part in the school musical. “I like to be well-rounded,” he grinned. Things haven’t always come easy to Clayton Riedel, but, like his parents, he credits his achievements to his work ethic. “I put in the work and the hours. My parents told me the higher you rise, the more people will be pulling on your ankles, trying to bring you down, so I just keep working to stay ahead. I don’t mind work at all.” His mom agreed, saying that her son was “a real gym rat, either in town or out in the shed. He’s always working somewhere.” When asked about his college plans, Clayton says he “hopes to get a few looks from come colleges.” He knows the value of education and wants to follow his sisters’ example as to what student athletes can achieve. After college, he hopes to get into athletic training, perhaps even at the pro level. Given his good grades, his exceptional sports skills, and especially his proven ability to overcome even the worst of circumstances, Clayton Riedel is definitely someone to watch over the next few years. For him, only being the best of the best will do. Sandra Stenzel lives in Trego County, where she works for as a writer and advertising representative for the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter and Kansas Hardwood.


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Class 1A Extra

The Lady Indians following their 2010-11 championship game.

Courtesy Photo

Bringing the fight Hoxie women focus on winning

BY SANDRA STENZEL For Kansas Hardwood

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othing stokes the fire in the belly for a state championship like a “close but no cigar” moment, and Hoxie women’s basketball coach Shelly Hoyt had four of those moments and a special fire burning for more than a year before her team finally clinched the big prize at last year’s Class 1A state championship tournament. This year, though, the fire has still not abated. Instead, it burns with even more intensity, not only in coach Hoyt, but in her players and the entire community of Hoxie. The Lady Indians have their sights set on a repeat of last year’s state championship season, and they will settle for nothing less than the gold again this year. Like her favorite role model, University of

Tennessee coach Pat Summit, Shelly Hoyt stalks the sidelines of each game making sure the mistakes are few, for both referees and players, and that her team’s intensity never lets up. “We’re competitive,” she said. “We hate to lose. I hate losing and the kids hate it, too.” She sets the team standard for intensity and the players follow. If only one word could be used to describe this women’s basketball dynasty, it would be “fight.” They bring the fight to every opponent in every moment of every game, and they do it with trust in each other. “Kids know when you care about them. They have to trust you and know that you have their back. Then they’ll fight for each other and fight for the win,” coach Hoyt said. That was a lesson learned and echoed by junior Sara Farber. When asked what the best thing was about being part of

the Hoxie women’s team, she quickly replied, “The teamwork and fight we have for each other and that coach Hoyt has for us.” She said about her coach, “We know she will fight for us one hundred percent, and she’ll do anything to make sure we get what we need.” All agree it’s that fighting spirit that puts the Hoxie women in the championship games year after year. Farber, speaking with a maturity beyond her age, also stressed that the Hoxie women are a team of equals, not one with stars and then role players. “We don’t have just one player who shines. When one of us does shine, there are four other players out there making her look good. We depend on each other.” That “all for one and one for all” spirit shows at every game. Farber said “it’s great to look over at the bench and see all of them

cheering us on and knowing we all have each other’s backs. It’s a great feeling and a great experience.” Hoxie has a number of returning players this year to form the team’s leadership core, and some younger players will add another spark. “We were blessed with a lot of depth last year,” coach Hoyt said. “We had 10 or 11 kids that could play and they didn’t all get a lot of time like they might have in other places. This year, we’re down a little bit in depth to 8 or 9 key players, but they all know how to win.” The team will rely heavily on Sara Farber, Danielle Stithem, Ellie Heim and Marlie McKenna. According to Hoyt, “They all know how to accept their roles, whether it is leading or supporting. No matter what, we’re always a team and they each do what they need to do See HOXIE, Page 44


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Hoxie Continued from Page 43 for us to win.” Winning programs like Hoxie’s don’t just happen over night, and they don’t randomly happen without the support of parents and community. Farber said, “My parents spent a lot of money making sure I got to play as much ball as possible and making sure I could get better. I’m thankful for all the support I’ve received.” Hoyt agreed, saying, “We are a true basketball family. Parents are a huge part of that, and we all fight as a family for these kids. They support us in summer basketball, in travel, and at every game.” Of course, such support goes both ways. The Hoxie women basketball players are always the first to volunteer for any community service project. “We like to give back,” Farber said. Coach Hoyt joked that it’s become common knowledge in the community that whenever volunteers are needed in any community project, “they can call me and we’ll all show up. It’s what we do.” She said about the community, “They feed us and cheer us on, and they give up their weekends and nights to support us. We work to show our appreciation by supporting the community right back.” She added that “working out in the community teaches them more than just basketball. It teaches them things they’ll need and use the rest of their lives.” The Hoxie women also learn a lot more than just shooting and running when they are out on the court.

Courtesy Photo

Hoxie’s Gabi Spresser and Carly Heim, in center and right, were named to All League first team and third team after the 2011-12 season.

“We like to play smart ball,” said coach Hoyt. “I want them to think the game through, to be smart about the game and always look ahead. We work on the fundamentals and skills, but we also work on the thinking parts of the game. I ask them what plays they think we should run in different situations so I can and get them to think. I want them to not just do things but to know why we do things. It’s not all about raw athletics. It’s a full court situation and a progression and I want them to be able to transfer that thinking. That’s what you do in life, and that’s what we do in every practice and every game.” The building of the Hoxie women’s basketball dynasty has been a long time in the making, and not just for the school and community. Shelly Hoyt said since she was in the first or second grade, she knew she wanted to be a coach. She played college ball at Hastings College in Nebraska, and since then, she’s been a special edu-

cation teacher and has coached for 21 years, with 11 of those years spent in Hoxie. When she and her husband, a school administrator, first arrived in Hoxie, Hoyt started asking around about what the basketball players did in the summer to keep their skills sharp. Her daughter, now a basketball coach at the University of Nevada in Reno, wanted to play, and Hoyt set out to find a way for her to do it. What she found was that there was no local summer program in Hoxie, and so she set about to build one. “I called all over the nation asking people the best way to build a summer program, how to get the little ones started and keep them going all the way through school. These kids started playing together in grade school and after all those years, all those summers, all that traveling and expense, it’s paying off in a big way.” Paying off in a big way is no exaggeration. Hoxie is rapidly

becoming known as Title Town in Kansas women’s basketball. Hoyt, 347-135 in her career, and 211-58 at Hoxie, had five state final four appearances in her first 11 years with the Indians: third place finishes in 2004 and ‘05 and second place showings in 2006 and ‘11. 2012 proved to be the magic year as the team won the Class 1A state championship, the school’s second women’s basketball title in their history. The first came when they won the 3A crown in 1993. Generously, Hoyt credits not only her own hard work, but the work of the entire Hoxie basketball community family, saying, “I could not be more proud of these kids or our family.” And in return, the players feel the same way about their coach. That sentiment was expressed by Sara Farber who commented, “I couldn’t imagine playing for anyone else.” That spirit of trust, and the willingness to fight for each other might just be the secrets to another state championship for the Hoxie Lady Indians this season. And, if they do win it all in 2013, it likely won’t be the last women’s championship trophy to grace the school’s display case. There are more young Lady Indians, right now in grade school, who are working their way up through the program, and they are also looking forward to being part of the Hoxie women’s winning tradition. With the program Hoxie has built, those girls know someday they’ll get their own turn in Title Town.


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Kansas State University K-State prepares for a new season without Frank Martin RDWOO

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he Kansas State Wildcats come into the 2012-13 season with a great deal of uncertainty. A lot of rumors surround Frank Martin’s departure from the Wildcats’ program after last season. Martin left a wealth of potential, including all-Big 12 selection Rodney McGrudger, to take the head coaching position at South Carolina — a school who not only has demonstrated a lack of commitment to its basketball program over the years, but also a school Frank Martin seemingly has no ties to. Regardless of the reason Martin left, he is gone, and ex-Illinois coach Bruce Weber takes the reigns at Kansas State. Bruce Weber steps into a familiar position with the Wildcats. In 2004, Weber took over as head coach at Illinois after Bill Self left the Illini to take the head coaching position at the University of Kansas. Bill Self left a team that returned five starters, including three eventual NBA players. Weber led the 2004-05 Fighting Illini to a Big Ten regular season title as well as the Big Ten Tournament title. Weber reached the NCAA championship game, only to fall short to North Carolina. He won a handful of post-season coaching awards, including the Naismith Award. Coming into this season with the Wildcats, Weber has a lot of veteran talent to work with. If Weber can take advantage of the talent he inherits at Kansas State,there is no telling how good the Wildcats can be. The Wildcats return a plethora of talent, including seven players that have started at one point last season. Newcomers won’t necessarily be expected to step up immediately. Angel Rodriguez looks to lead the team at point guard after an up and down season last year, but at times also showed flashes of brilliance. Rodriguez finished the season averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. Martavious Irving has improved his shot in the offseason and should complement Rodriguez and McGruder in a very fast and athletic back court. Shane Southwell will also see more playing time this year, and will be a great backup behind Rodney McGruder. Southwell has the size and athletic ability to play almost anywhere on the court. Kansas State’s front court features Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez. Gipson is a little undersized for a post, but makes up for it with his wide body and strength. He also has the ability to get up despite only being 6-foot-7. Henriquez has made progressive strides since his freshman year at Kansas State. Coming into his senior year, Henriquez has drastically improved his coordination, as well as where he needs to be on the floor in offensive sets and on defense. At 6-foot-11, Henriquez is one of the more athletic players in the conference. If he can eliminate mistakes and play disciplined on the offensive end of the floor, he has the potential to be one of the best post players in the Big Twelve. With the amount of talent the Wildcats have heading into the season, they could finish anywhere from middle of the pack in the Big Twelve, to possibly being one of the best teams in the Big Twelve. K-State’s success will hinge on how the team transitions into the hands of first-year head coach Bruce Weber. Matthew Denning is a communications student at Kansas State University and a freelance writer.

Rodney McGrudger plays defense in this photo provided by Kansas State University, Manhattan, Sports Information.


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University of Kansas

Upholding the Tradition

It could be another exciting season for KU BY MATT DENNING For Kansas Hardwood

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nother basketball season in Lawrence, and it’s business as usual for the Jayhawks. Last year the Jayhawks came into the season after finishing the year before with another Big 12 regular season title, Big 12 Tournament Championship, a No. 1 overall seed going into the NCAA tournament, and — barring one of the most memorable upsets in NCAA history — the Jayhawks looked like they were going to waltz into the NCAA Tournament’s championship game. KU lost two eventual lottery picks in Markief and Marcus Morris, second round draft pick, Josh Selby, and two starters after the season (Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar) after what looked like a championship season.

By all accounts, last year should have been a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks. Instead they won another regular season Big 12 title, and ended up in the NCAA Championship game. The Jayhawks don’t always play up to their potential in the NCAA Tournament, but — year after year — Bill Self seems to steamroll through the regular season. By tournament time KU always seems to be peaking, and this season there’s no reason to think that won’t happen again. The Jayhawks lost 1st team AllAmerican and Big 12 player of the year, Thomas Robinson, as well as 3rd Team All-American, and All-Big 12 point guard Tyshawn Taylor. Despite that, KU is still a favorite to win the Big 12. With three players regaining eligibility this season, KU has major upside. Ben McLemore is already being com-

pared to Brandon Rush. Local basketball favorite Perry Ellis looks like he could start right away. Jeff Withey is ready to step in as a permanent starter after finishing as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, while Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford both return to their starting roles as well. The Jayhawks look to be another top 10 team going into the season, and as was said earlier, they have tremendous upside. The Jayhawks essentially have two recruiting classes playing their first season this year. The abundance of young athletic talent, coupled with the experience of Withey, Releford, and Elijah Johnson could take the Jayhawks deep in the national tournament in 2013 if it all comes together. Only time will tell, but there’s no reason the Blue and Crimson faithful shouldn’t be excited.

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point-guard Emily Wood scored a team-leading 12.5 points a game last year. Also returning are starters Gabrielle Briggs, a 5-7 senior who scored over 9.2 points a game, and 5-8 junior MacKenzie Morris, who scored 4.8 a game. The Mustangs also return four additional lettermen — 6-0 senior Erin Harvey (1.9 ppg.), 5-4 junior Brooke Peters (3.0 ppg.), 5-9 junior Hailey Mayfield (3.8 ppg.) and 5-11 sophomore Bailey Driver (2.7 ppg.). “We are really looking forward to building on last year’s success,” Central Coach Geoff Andrews said. “Last year was very special to us, but we have to remember this is a new season.” Jason Hooper will start his seventh year as head coach at Salina South and is 84-47 during that stretch. The Cougars finished 11-11 overall, 6-6 in AVCTL, but nearly reached the state tournament before losing to No. 1 ranked Salina Central by two points in the sub-state finals. South has lost in the substate championship game four consecutive years, with each of those four losses by four points or less. The Cougars return four starters, including their three leading scorers in Megan Holloway, center Janai

Mitchell and guard Cassidy Cook. Holloway moved from shooting guard to point guard as a junior and led South in scoring at 15.0 points a game, while also contributing on average 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals each night. Holloway was second team all-state (KBCA) in 5A and first team all-AVCTL. Mitchell was second team all-league and Cook honorable mention. Mitchell was also the team’s leading rebounder, averaging over 7.0 per game. The Cougars also return sophomore Emilee Holloway, who moved into the starting lineup in the second half of the season, and senior Emily Webb, who was one of the first players off the bench last year. Manhattan had a special season as well last year, winning 20 of 22 games before losing to Olathe South in the first round of the Class 6A state tournament. The Indians lost four seniors off that team, but return eight players from the state tournament roster, including starters Kristen Thompson, a 5-9 senior, and Darby Price, a 5-10 junior. Hays High would like to take the next step after just missing reaching the state tournament. The Indians were 17-5 overall and won 13 of 14 games after a 3-3 start, but lost to Newton in the substate finals.

Janelle Geist is starting her seventh year as the head coach at Abilene and welcomes back four players who started at one time or another for a team that went 13-9 and lost in the semifinals of sub-state play to Wamego — 5-7 senior guard Carly Gassman, 5-8 senior forward Kurstin Guy, 5-7 senior guard Grace Sexton and 5-8 senior forward Kiley Crider. As far as expectations for the season at concerned, Geist hopes to see her team finish in the top two in the NCKL race and have a deep run in the postseason. “We will need to counter our lack of size with aggressive, smart team basketball,” she said. Concordia second-year coach Mike Wahlmeier is looking for a much better season from his Panthers. Four starters — 5-10 senior Katie Lambert, 5-8 junior Megan James, 5-10 sophomore Molly Adams and 5-5 sophomore Tristen Leiszler — plus lettermen Jordynn Gumm, Ashley Beaumont and Jera Metro return from a 2-19 team. “We gained a lot of experience last year,” Wahlmeier said. “Now the task is to see what we can do with that experience. Our goal is to improve every day and get positive leadership from our returning players and quick development from our young-

er players.” Chapman head coach Sara Cook returns seven lettermen from a 2-19 team, including senior Jordan Woods, who averaged 7.4 points a game last year and sophomore Lindsey Hurford, who scored 6.2 points per game. Also returning are juniors Morgan Beemer, Faith Decker, Vanessa Lovett and Rachel Sutter and sophomore Milea Anderson. “We have a group of girls who put in quite a bit of time this summer to prepare for the upcoming season,” Cook said. “We have a solid group of underclassmen that are aggressive and ready to contribute.” Larned returns two starters from a 3-18 team – senior point guard Bailey Schartz and junior guard Tiara Diaz. The Indians also have lettermen returning in seniors Reagan Quick and Rachael Herter, juniors Jessie Johnson and Roxy Foster and sophomore Maci Perez. Colby and Clay Center won 13 and 11 games last year, respectively, and will look to improve on those totals. The same goes for Smoky Valley (7-14), Junction City (3-18), Great Bend (3-18) and Goodland (0-20). Harold Bechard of Salina is former sports editor of the Salina Journal and the Hutchinson News.


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Kansas Hardwood 2012, Vol. 1