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EMPORIA | MADISON | LEBO | NORTHERN HEIGHTS CHASE COUNTY | OLPE | HARTFORD


THE EMPORIA GAZETTE

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

EHS BOYS READY TO HOLD THEIR OWN Even after losing three starters from last season’s team, Head Coach Beau Welch is confident he has a team that can be competitive in the Centennial League. By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Between youth, the skill level across the ever-talented Centennial League and the uncertainty of COVID-19 hanging over every program across the country, EHS boys basketball is facing a number of challenges this season, but Head Coach Beau Welch is confident that his Spartans will hang tough in 2020-21. “We’ve got to play smart,” Welch said. “We’ve got to play to our strengths and find ways to win. Our league, this year, is as loaded as it’s been. But we’re going to be competitive.”

Losing three starters from a year ago, EHS returns this season looking to improve upon a 12-10 record from a year ago. Without Beau Bumgardner, Connor Hoyt and Skylar Douglas, the Spartans will instead rely on junior big man Charles Snyder and a cast of upperclassmen and newcomers to try to compete in the league. Playing a schedule filled with so much talent and physicality, it will be crucial for EHS to plug its holes and to do so quickly. “We have some kids who can play, but in our league, youth gets beat up a little bit,” Welch said. “It takes time to grow and develop.” While the skilled trio of seniors has graduated, the Spartans return maybe their most important player from a year ago in Snyder. The 6-foot-4 junior was dominant for EHS in 2019-20, averaging 22 points and eight rebounds en route to

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Skyler Stewart Senior

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earning second-team all-state honors. Snyder will once again be crucial to EHS’ plans this season, and without those same proven contributors around him, he’s expected to play an even more central role in the Spartan’s offense. “He’s one of the better post players in the state,” Welch said. “He’s going to be a much better player this year now. I think our guys will want to play through Charles because he is their comfort zone.” In filling in the holes within the rotation, Welch and the Spartans have plenty of options. Hunter Hines, EHS’ other returning starter, averaged seven points and three rebounds a game last season, and will have increased opportunities to improve his stat line in his senior season. Other upperclassmen include Camden Kirmer, who Welch will count on to bring energy and toughness onto the

court, and Chance Gilpin, a shooter who averaged two points a game a year ago. The factor that could dictate just how far these Spartans can go may be the performances of their promising young talent. Sophomore Parker Leeds appears likely to slot in at point guard for EHS, and will have his work cut out for him as the Spartans’ primary ball-handler against the ferocious defenses of the Centennial League. Jacob Ortega and Devin Moore are another pair of previously unproven players who will be given the chance to carve out larger roles in 2020-21 and will be key to powering EHS’ success this season. “We lost three pit bulls,” Welch said, referring to the players the Spartans lost to graduation. “Now we have some younger guys who have to find their way.” A characteristically difficult league schedule and the challenges of COVID-19 lie ahead for EHS, but with Snyder in the fold and a skilled group of potential contributors around him, the Spartans appear to have what it takes to hold their own this season.

MEET THE SPARTANS

Maddyn Stewart Junior

Sheldon Stewart Freshman

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THE EMPORIA GAZETTE

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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LADY SPARTANS LOOKING FOR REBOUND SEASON IN 2020-21 EHS girls basketball has all the pieces to put their 9-11 record from a season ago in the rearview mirror. B y E li L ederman

Special to The Gazette

None of the players on the EHS girls basketball team know the feeling of reaching state, but their Head Coach, Carolyn Dorsey, does. The program’s eighth-year Head Coach made it to the state tournament as a player for the Lady Spartans in the early 2000s, and took EHS to its most recent state appearance in 2015. It’s been several years now since the Lady Spartans have made it back, but this season’s team appears in range of reaching state and Dorsey, who understands the importance of achieving that milestone, wants to get her team to that point. “I’ve gotten to experience that,” Dorsey said. “To get the girls back is

where I want to be successful. I want to get our kids to understand and achieve everything they work for. We want to get back to the state tournament.” EHS is poised to bounce back this winter from a disappointing 2019-20 season in which the Lady Spartans finished 9-11. With returning seniors Emily Christensen and Macey Adams, and a talented core that includes 2019-20 leading scorer Gracie Gilpin, Rebcca Snyder and Allie Baker, Dorsey has plenty of reason to feel optimistic of leaving eclipsing last season’s mark. Relying on their patented defense and the chemistry of a group that has been playing together for a number of years, the Lady Spartans will look to contend in the Centennial League and beyond. “What I saw last year is that these kids are fighters,” Dorsey said. “They’re tough and they’re stingy. I’ve got a really good group of girls.” In Gilpin, a junior, the Lady Spartans return a scorer who led EHS a year ago with a team-high 9.9 points per game while averaging 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Also back are the seniors Christenson and Adams; the former posted 4.1

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points and 4.5 rebounds a game last season while the latter averaged 3.4 points and 2.2. rebounds. The duo, along with junior Allie Baker, whose 5.4 points per game in 2019-20 were third-best for the Lady Spartans, will look to support Gilpin and replace the 7.5 points per game lost to the graduation of Mya Tovar. Together, with the rest of EHS’ roster, the Lady Spartans should have more than enough offensive punch. “A lot of these kids have been playing together since they were seven, eight, nine years old,” Dorsey said. “The storm has been brewing with this group. I think you’re going to see their ability to get open on the court. But while there may be plenty of scoring options for Dorsey’s Lady Spartans, defense will remain EHS’ focal point in 2020-21. Perennially one of the top defensive teams in the Centennial League, the Lady Spartans’ game plan will once again be to challenge their opponents on the perimeter, but for the first time in a few seasons, EHS will also have a force inside with Snyder. Snyder appeared in 10 games as a freshman last year, gaining experience

at the varsity level that will suit her well in her second season. With Snyder, the Lady Spartans have an interior presence that will only heighten the defensive mettle EHS has delivered on a consistent basis over recent seasons. The sophomore will also offer the Lady Spartans a true inside option and offensive rebounding on the other end. “Rebecca got some major experience last year,” Dorsey said. “She’s going to be able to help us inside because of her size and her quickness. She’s fast and she’s long.” Returning to state is the goal EHS is headed into this season with in mind. It’s been nearly five years since the Lady Spartans reached the state tournament, but with it’s returning talent and the size and ability Snyder can bring in her second season, EHS just may finally be able to break through once again. “I think this team has the ability and the opportunity to do something really cool,” Dorsey said. “I think they can really come together and have a special year. We want to get back to the state tournament, and this group will earn that opportunity.”

MEET THE SPARTANS

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Damia Zapata Freshman

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Camden Kirmer Senior

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

LOADED BULLDOGS SET FOR ANOTHER LCL TITLE CHALLENGE Returning every member from last year’s league title-winning team, Madison is ready to make a run for the league championship once again. By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

A common theme among high school basketball programs across the state at the start of each season is the issue of replacing key contributors who graduated the year before. At Madison, in 202021, that’s not a problem. This winter the Bulldogs return every member of a team that went 20-4 and earned the Lyon County League title a year ago. Bringing back the entirety of such a talented squad gives sixth-year Head Coach Brett Dannels a luxury almost no other coach in the state possesses. The group, led by main contributors

Drew Stutesman, Chase Harrison and Ryan Wolgram, is one that’s played together for years and one Dannels has been around since they were all in third and fourth grade. That familiarity is just another asset these Bulldogs carry with them into the season. “It’s a trust thing I have with these kids,” Dannels said. “Over time, when you’ve coached kids that long, you don’t sweat the little things. I know they know what our philosophy is and what we need to do. It makes my job easy.” Leading the stout group of returners this winter are Harrison and Wolgram. Last season, Harrison served as Madison’s second-leading scorer with 13 points per game, while Wolgram contributed eight points, four assists and three rebounds a contest. The duo, both of whom have been starters since their freshman season, provide the Bulldogs with experience and a tested core to work around. But while Harrison and Wolgram offer Madison a steady basis, it’s Stutesman, the 6-foot-3 big man, who brings the

force. The junior broke out during his sophomore season, using his physicality in the paint to pour in 15 points a game to go with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. In addition to being the team’s leading scorer, Stutesman is a difference maker on the boards and as a passer, and is central to any postseason aspirations the Bulldogs hold. “Last year, as a sophomore, he put up some unbelievable numbers,” Dannels said. “He’s physically strong and he just does all the little things that you can ask. Drew is a physical kid who takes the ball to the hole.” Countering Stutesman inside is fellow big man Kelton Buettner. Standing at 6-foot-4, Buettner showed flashes with his finesse game in the paint last season, and his improvement will only bolster Madison’s interior play. “This kid has got a motor and basketball is his favorite sport,” Dannels said. “I think if he has a breakout year, we’re going to be a really, really tough team to play.” Buettner is just one player who adds

depth to Madison’s roster. Last season, Brome Rayburn proved a defensive menace, attacking opposing ball handlers and swiping nearly five steals a game for the Bulldogs. Fellow senior Hunter Engle is another Madison player who makes life tough on the opposition, bringing energy and size on the defensive end that has a way of sparking Dannels’ team as a whole. With a deep, experienced and athletic bench, Madison’s talent extends far beyond the starting five. “I think it’s our depth that makes us so good,” Dannels said. “There’s a lot of kids I could rattle off who would be starters at a lot of schools. I’m fortunate to have a depth chart like this.” Last season, the Bulldogs tore through the LCL, earning the regular season and league tournament titles, but fell short at sub-state. This year, with the same squad back and improved, Madison has its eyes set on repeating in the LCL and reaching state with one of the most talented and deep programs in the state of Kansas.

MADISON EXPECTING EVEN BIGGER THINGS FROM SOPHOMORE LUTHI IN 2020-21 Yolaine Luthi was a breakout star in the Lyon County League last season. This year, the Lady Dawgs are expecting even more from her. B y E li L ederman Special to The Gazette

Year two under Head Coach Vanessa Kresin featured only three wins as a young Madison girls basketball team struggled to a 3-18 in the challenging Lyon County League. This winter, with another year of experience under their belts, the Lady Dawgs are hopeful for improvement and have a plan for how they’re going to achieve it. “In the last three years, the Lady Dawgs have bought in on the defensive end,” Kresin said. “It’s time to start focusing on being more of a threat on the offensive side of the court.”

A key to Madison’s success this season will be sophomore Yolaine Luthi. As a freshman in 2019-20, Luthi dominated, hardly showing her youth in registering 10 points and eight rebounds per game and recording five double-doubles. Up against some of the league’s toughest last season, Luthi shined even brighter, posting a stat line of 28 points and 13 rebounds against Marais des Cgynes, 16 points and 15 rebounds against Mission Valley, and a 17 rebound game against Burlingame. Now entering her second varsity season, Luthi will only have more to offer Madison in 2020-21. Also returning this season is three-year starter Reese Farrow. The junior will serve as a crucial leader as an upperclassmen on the team with so few experienced players, and will have a role in helping Luthi and the Lady Dawgs reach their goal of improving their offensive output. Another year of experience, improvement from Luthi and an improved offense will all bode well for Madison this season as Kresin and the Lady Dawgs aim to eclipse their three-win mark of a year ago.


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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

SENIOR McEWEN AND LEBO BOYS BASKETBALL HOPING TO GET OVER THE HUMP IN 2020-21 With Devan McEwen back, the Wolves are seeking to finally earn the Lyon County League title after back-to-back runner-up finishes By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Lebo boys Head Basketball Coach Dwayne Paul already has a nickname for the duo of Devan McEwen and Landon Grimmett that he expects to fuel his team this season. McEwen, a senior, earned all-state honors last season, and enters 2020-21 as one of the top players in the state. Grimmett, the sophomore point guard, showed flashes as a freshman and worked on his

ball handling and toughness as part of his preparation to take on the starting point guard role head on. Paul has a vision for the duo. “Devan’s our Batman,” the third-year Head Coach said. “Landon? He’ll step up and be our Robin.” Paul’s Batman and Robin are set to lead the 2019-20 Lyon County League runnerups as Lebo chases another successful campaign after finishing 22-4 last season. Eyes across the state will land on McEwen each time the Wolves take the floor, but around the senior machine, Paul has a robust roster that will once again contend atop the LCL and deep into the postseason. McEwen enters his senior season as one of the top players in Kansas after earning nearly every possible accolade as a junior. In 2020-21, McEwen’s college recruitment has coincided with more time in the gym and the weight room, meaning the player who gave opposing defens-

es nightmares a season ago will only be bigger and stronger during his final high school campaign. Not many teams across the state can match the talent Lebo has with its No. 1 opt-in. “Devan is an alpha,” Paul said. “He’s an alpha player. That’s no secret. Anyone who plays us knows that Devan is the alpha.” Grimmett flashed a shooting touch as a freshman, knocking down more than 30% of his three-point shots, but struggled driving to the basketball. This year, with a season of high school football under his belt, Paul expects Grimmett to return with more toughness and enough physicality to penetrate and serve as a true point guard for the Wolves. Lebo’s talent extends beyond just Batman and Robin. In junior Kyle Reese, seniors Andrew Bailey and Jerome Ferguson, and sophomore Luke Davies, Paul will have a potent and tested supporting cast in place to contribute and defend around the duo that Lebo plans to lean

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on. McEwen and Grimmett, and the deep group around them that includes freshmen Dominic Risner and Grayson Shoemaker, gives the Wolves one of the strongest rotations in the state. After two consecutive second-place finishes in the LCL regular season and LCL tournament, Paul hopes that his starstudded roster will have enough to break through this season. With McEwen leading the way, the Wolves may be able to set their sights on even higher aspirations in postseason play, but the primary goal remains on finally earning a league title, and ultimately reaching whatever Lebo’s full potential is. “I think that every single team wants to get to the state tournament, win the state championship,” Paul said. “But I tell our guys that’s not the goal. I’ll never base our success or failure on how many wins or losses we have or how far we make it in the play-offs. I want us to reach our potential.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

LEBO GIRLS BASKETBALL SET UP FOR CONTENTION IN THE FLINT HILLS LEAGUE With all three top scorers from a year ago and a promising underclassmen now in the fold, the Wolves are as good a bet as any to contend for a league title By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Hopes are high for Lebo girls’ basketball team this season, and with so much returning firepower and a pair of talented underclassmen ready to explode after a 15-7 season a year ago, there’s plenty of reason why. After finishing as co-runner ups for in the Lyon County League in Head Coach Patrick Gardner’s first season, the Wolves are shooting to contend atop a league that is likely to be hotly contested once again. And while other stout programs such as Olpe and Burlingame lie out there, few programs in the area bring as much talent and experience back this season as Lebo does, and so Gardner and the Wolves are feeling optimistic. “We’d like to finish in the top-three and have a chance at playing on Saturday night in the championship game at LCL,” Gardner said. “And then we’ll be trying to get into sub-state away from other league schools to have a chance to make it out to the state tournament. Those are the goals we set for ourselves.” All three of Lebo’s top scorers from 2019-20 return this winter led by junior Abby Peek. The shooting guard posted 13 points and three assists per game as a sophomore, and will be joined once again by fellow junior Allie Moore, whose 11 points per game in 2019-20 made her the Wolves second-leading scorer. The most intriguing returner for Lebo might be sophomore power forward Brooklyn Jones. Jones was a break-

out star for the Wolves early last season before suffering an injury. Nonetheless, Jones averaged 10 points, six rebounds and four steals in her first year of varsity basketball, looking very much at home on the court even as a freshman, and in 2020-21, will slot next to the two junior scorers to form a formidable trio for Lebo. Senior centers Sydney Tollefson and Demi Schroder also return this season, giving Gardner five experienced varsity players to lean on. “Audrey will start at the point,” Gard-

ner said. “She’ll be a solid point guard for me for the next four years.” The other exciting underclassmen is freshman Audrey Peek. The young point guard has yet to play a varsity game, but is already slated to step in as the Wolves starting point guard this winter. Peek, and freshman power forward Katie Ott, are both expected to get significant minutes in their first varsity seasons. “Audrey will start at the point,” Gardner said. “She’ll be a solid point guard for me for the next four years.” The success of last season, when

the Wolves knocked off some of the top teams in the league, coupled with all of the talent Gardner will have at his disposal this season makes Lebo a favorite to contend for the FHL title this season. Scoring will be no issue for the Wolves, and depth won’t be either. Gardner has another impressive team on his hand that Lebo fans can expect to be watching deep into the year. “If we can knock off some of those teams we were able to knock off last year, we’ll be looking good come the end of the season.” Gardner said.


THE EMPORIA GAZETTE

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

NORTHERN HEIGHTS SET FOR NEW LOOK LINEUP Without Cameron Heiman and Tee Preisner, Jacob Lang’s Wildcats will look rather different this season. By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

The challenge of the unknown that lies ahead for Jacob Lang and the Wildcats isn’t better than the alternative of having a set starting five night in, night out, but the sixth-year Head Coach is ready to take the challenge head on. After finishing 18-4 with a sub-state appearance in 2019-20 with then-seniors Cameron Heiman and Tee Preisner serving the team’s guiding forces, Northern Heights boys basketball returns this season without the stars of a year ago or set lineup headed into this campaign, and un-

like years past, Lang isn’t sure who will fill out each spot in his rotation. But, with the 2020-21 season approaching, he’s excited to find out. “The guys that I have are going to be fun to coach,” Lang said. “They work hard. Knowing what you have is a lot easier to plan for, but we’re going to look quite a bit different which is going to be nice.” Among the proven fixtures the Wildcats will be able to count on this season is junior Braden Heins. The wing scorer averaged 10 points and pulled down four rebounds per game last season, earning an all-league selection while serving as Northern Height’s third scoring option. In 2020-21, the opportunities for Heins and attention from opposing defenses will both heighten as he will likely assume the role of primary scorer for the Wildcats. “Braden is going to have to make sure that now that the focus isn’t on Tee or

Cameron,that he can handle that and the responsibility of that,” Lang said. “That’s the key with him.” Also returning from last year’s starting five are Jerrod Campbell and Darrett King. Campbell, a junior, brought athleticism and shooting to the rotation last season when he scored three points per game. King, the senior guard, has also logged plenty of minutes for Northern Heights in recent seasons, but this winter will be tasked with taking on the role of lead guard. The production the Wildcats get from those two veteran contributors will be key to any Northern Heights success. Past Heins, Campbell and King is where Lang’s vision is less clear ahead of this season. In 2019-20, he never thought twice about his starting lineup; now, competition is open in order to round out Northern Heights’ opening five. Among those Lang is hopeful can make an impact, either in the starting lineup or off

the bench, are sophomore Kolden Ryberg and freshman Kaedin Massey. That duo, along with a group of underclassmen and other contributors, will have a chance to prove themselves with loads of minutes in Lang’s rotation. The proven commodities of a year ago are no longer at Northern Heights’ disposal, and the style of play may look different from past Wildcats teams with changed personnel, but with returners like Heins and a number of potential talents ready to emerge, Northern Heights will most certainly be a fascinating watch on any given night. “I like the group of guys we have,” Lang said. “We don’t have the size and bigs. We’re not going to be the power basketball team we’ve been in the past. But I really like to get up and down the court anyway, so we’re going to try and run and have fun. I think we’ve got some depth that we can utilize.”

VETERAN WILDCATS TO SEEK THIRD-STRAIGHT LEAGUE TITLE AND MORE The back-to-back Flint Hills League champions are hoping for more hardware and more success in 2020-21. By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Another season, another Flint Hills League title defense for the Northern Height’s girls basketball program. The Wildcats concluded a 16-7 season with a second-consecutive league title before falling in the sub-state championship last year. In 2020-21, Northern Heights will be seeking to replicate the success of the past few seasons and to make it even further with yet another impressive roster this year. “We’ve had the league title here and we’re hoping to do that again this year,” Head Coach Lanny Massey said. “We’ve had a pretty good run and I think we can keep it going.” Experience, along with talent and depth, is an advantage that will carry the Wildcats this season with four starters and a tested overall rotation returning as Northern Heights chases a third-straight league title.

Senior Caleigh Smart, set to be a fourthyear starter for the Wildcats, finished as Northern Height’s second leading scorer with 11.2 points per contest last winter, and will step in for Khylee Massey as the team’s primary scorer this year. Joining Smart in the starting lineup are senior Kaley Boyce and juniors Makenna French and Adrianna Brecheisen, who each bring at least a season of starting experience to the table. With Aubrey Hinrichs, who came off the bench but played heavy minutes for the Wildcats last season, also in the mix, Northern Heights has the experience needed to maintain their place atop the Flint Hills League. “Everybody is a year older and a year stronger, I hope,” Massey said. “I’m excited to see what happens this year.” The program’s success in recent seasons has been predicated on defense and the turnover-producing, trapping zone Massey’s Wildcats play. With Smart, Boyce and French all back, Northern Heights will once again have the length and athleticism needed to employ the suffocating defense that bothers opposing ball handlers. On the other end, that same length gives the Wildcats versatility as each member of the trio can play both on the wing and inside. That defensive steel and offensive flexibility is part of what will make Northern

Heights one of the most fearsome squads in the area. The Wildcats have the talent to retain their league title, but their aspirations in 2020-21 extend beyond a third straight Flint HIlls League trophy. In each of the past two seasons, Northern Heights has been topped by Chase County in the championship game of the league tournament, and then subsequently bounced from postseason play in

the sub-state championship game. This season is about going further than Northern Heights has gone in recent years. “We’d like to get over that hump and into the state tournament,” Massey said. “That’s our ultimate goal. For the most part, we just kind of work from the idea that we need to get better every day and that generally works for us.”


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Page 13

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THE EMPORIA GAZETTE

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

WITH TOP SCORERS BACK, CHASE COUNTY BOYS BASKETBALL ENTER 2020-21 WITH LOFTY GOALS

With Owen Eidman and Blaise Holloway back with two other returning starters, there is optimism that the Bulldogs can better their record of 11-11 from a year ago.

finish last season. Competing in the highly competitive Flint Hills League, up against the likes of Council Grove and Mission Valley, Chase County has its work cut out for it. But with six upperclassmen ready to contribute in 2020-21, the Bulldogs are in position to make a jump and to surprise some across the league. In bringing back Eidman and Holloway, both seniors, Chase County returns a combined 23.9 points per game from last year. Eidman also finished the B y E li L ederman 2019-20 season as the Bulldogs’ leading rebounder, Special to The Gazette averaging 7.5 per game, and will once again serve as the driving force for Chase County on the boards. BeReturning four starters, including 2019-20 top scor- tween the two seniors, the Bulldogs possess the type ers Owen Eidman and Blaise Halloway, the Bulldogs of top-level talent required to compete at the top of are aiming for improvement this winter after an 11-11 the league.

Also returning to the starting lineup are seniors Tylon Ybarra and Lane Galbreath, providing Chase County with experience across the starting five. Expected to join the opening lineup this winter at the guard position is junior Rhett Reyer. Off the bench, Head Coach Cade Witte will look to senior Brock Lauer and sophomores Aidan Eidman and Cooper Schroer for production and defense further down in the rotation. It’s been more than a decade since the Bulldogs last won the league, and the competition this winter will be characteristicly stiff, but with proven scorers, plenty of experience and depth off the bench, Chase County has every reason to be confident about their prospects headed into the 2020-21 season.


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CHASE COUNTY BULLDOGS

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Page 15

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Page 16

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

OLPE TRIO SET TO KEEP EAGLES COMPETITIVE IN LYON COUNTY LEAGUE Olpe will remain a force with its three leading scorers from a year ago back in the fold. By Eli Lederman Special to The Gazette

The Eagles return this winter without several seniors from a year ago, but bring back the core — Jordan Barnard, Damon Redeker and Derek Hoelting — of a squad that went 16-6 in 2019-20. Olpe faces an uphill climb battling Lyon County League powerhouses such as Madison and Lebo, but with that trio, will aim to be competitive this season. “We have some experience back to lean on,” Head Coach Chris Schmidt

said. “We’re fortunate to have a majority of our scoring back.” Barnard, a senior, enters his third season as a starter for Olpe after averaging 13 points and four rebounds during his junior season. An impressive shooter in the past, Barnard is looking this season to become a more active post-player on a team without a true big man. Redeker, the junior point guard, posted 13 points, five rebounds and three assists a game last season,

and will benefit from another year of experience in running the Eagles’ offense. The third spear of the Olpe trident is Hoelting, the junior who scored nine points and hauled in six rebounds per game in 2019-20. “Those are the three guys we’ll build around,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got some good pieces back.” In addition to bringing back all three of last season’s top scorers, Olpe’s 2020-21 roster also features depth. Upperclassmen such as Ted Skalsky, Chris Olsson and Eli Foraker have earned minutes and will bring experience to the rotation. Meanwhile, Schmidt has his eyes on several underclassmen who may be able to contribute this season, as well. Sophomore Truman Bailey has grown physically and mentally from a year ago, and appears likely to break

into the regular rotation this season. At guard, Olpe has options in Blake Redeker and Darren Heins, who will each get opportunities this season, as well. “We’ll have some depth.” Schmidt said. “Some kids are quicker. Some maybe just do things a bit more different and crisp than the different kids. I think we can throw some different things at people and I’m hoping we can throw some new thing at some teams.” Olpe’s primary advantage this season will be the proven scoring talent it has back in Barnard, Redeker and Hoelting. In a league filled with more talented programs, those scorers will be crucial in keeping the Eagles in games. While Olpe likely won’t match the overall skill of programs such as Lebo and Madison, it has the experience and firepower to hang with the finest teams in the LCL.

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OLPE EAGLES

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

* Olpe Boy’s photo not available at press time

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MEET THE SPARTANS

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Page 19

MEET THE SPARTANS

Cale Milleson

Alex Allemang

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Page 20

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

YOUNG JAGUARS HAVE WORK TO DO IN LYON COUNTY LEAGUE Hartford heads into 202021 with lots of depth and even more youth, which may pose a problem in the talented LCL By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Youth often struggles in the talented Lyon County League, and Hartford’s boys basketball team is relatively young. In 2019-20, the Jaguars finished 4-17 with senior Cody Thomas scoring nearly 20 points per game. This season, Thomas is gone, leaving Hartford without a proven volume scorer. Now, Colten Barrett’s promising, yet young roster is left to fend for itself in a conference filled with some

of the most physical and dominant teams in the state, in search of scorers and leaders who can help the Jaguars eclipse their win total from a year ago. “We have some big shoes to fill,” the second-year Head Coach said. “We’ve got to figure out where we’re going to get that 20 points per game from. But that also means there’s a lot of shots that are going to open up for our guys to get some advantages.” Sophomore Ali Smith is one of the Hartford players most likely to take on some of the scoring burden left behind by Thomas. As a freshman last season, Smith posted 5.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game at the point guard position. This year, alongside Shayden Sull — the junior who scored 5.4 points per game in 2019-20 — Smith will take on more responsibility in both leading the offense and putting points

on the board. “Him being a quarterback on the football team, it translates to the basketball court,” Barret said. “Ali is vocal. It’s a lot better in practice when you have a player who can help motivate and keep guys in line and keep guys working hard. It’s really contagious. He does a really good job of leading by example.” The other two returning starters for Hartford this fall are juniors Devon Smith and Aiden Goodman, who fill out the power forward and center roles, respectively. Smith pulled down 4.5 rebounds a contest last season and will serve once again as the defensive backbone for Barrett’s team. Goodman, meanwhile, showed flashes as a post scorer, pouring in 4.5 points per game, and will look to improve in 2020-21. Elsewhere in the rotation, the Jaguars will be able to rely on perimeter defense

from Andrew McDiffett and shooting from Tanner Highley. Andy Andrews will serve as a bench big-man behind Devon Smith and Goodman, while Trade Torrens offers Barrett another guard to deploy in addition to Ali Smith and Sull. Depth, this season, is something Hartford does not lack. “The one thing I like about this year’s team is that we’re very deep,” Barrett said. “In years past we’ve always had one of two guys that we knew if they were off the court we were going to struggle. This year, our top-five is as good as our next five.” Boasting depth and at the top of their rotation, the Jaguars offer plenty of promise for this upcoming season. The question that remains is whether Hartford and its developing core will have enough size and scoring to compete with teams of the LCL.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Page 21

HARTFORD GIRLS BASKETBALL GO INTO SEASON WITH A BIG HOLE TO FILL The Jaguars possess talent, but also have one void to fill with the departure of Bailey Derbyshire By Eli Lederman

Special to The Gazette

Last season, Bailey Derbyshire helped lead the Hartford girls basketball team to a record of 14-8 in her final season with the program. In 2020-21, the Jaguars enter the year without the star who averaged 15 points and 6.7 rebounds and helped lead Hartford to a third-straight winning season. Achieving a fourth-straight winning season remains an aspiration for the Jaguars this winter. Whether the remaining players on Hartford’s roster can fill the hole left by Derbyshire this season will likely dictate if that goal can be reached. “I don’t know if we have anybody who can just step in and do what she could,” Head Coach Ryna Thomas said. “We’re going to need everyone to basically produce a little bit more to add up to what she could do for us to be successful.”

While the Jaguars may not have a single player who can replace Derbyshire’s production on their own, Thomas has a number of potential contributors on his roster who could fill the void. Center Brooke Finnerty scored 7.7 points and pulled down 5.3 rebounds a game as a junior, and will have more opportunities to score in her senior season. The same can be said for Kiernan Breshears, who matched Finnerty’s scoring average last season. The junior point guard will be looked upon this season to add to her scoring total. Returners Tara Baker, Regan Derbyshire and Halee Heathman will also be looked upon to make a jump this season with increased opportunities. “The girls are going to have to step up and play a bigger role than they had

in the past and embrace that. They need to challenge themselves. Push themselves.” Unlike a year ago, Hartford will not enter the 2020-21 season with a proven

primary scorer, but between Finnerty, Breshears and the rest of the Jaguars, there will be plenty of talent and plenty of opportunities for Hartford this season.

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Page 22

MEET THE SPARTANS

Calvin Seeley Freshman

Donovan Esquivel Freshman

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Ryan Peak

Jacob Ortega

Freshman

Junior

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Allie Baker Junior

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Page 23

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THE EMPORIA GAZETTE

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

emporia spartans

Profile for The Emporia Gazette

2020 Area Basketball Preview  

2020 Area Basketball Preview