A pair of Centennial League matchups and a United Kansas Conference doubleheader were on the docket on Friday night. Here’s how the action went down…
-In the night’s marquee matchup, Washburn Rural’s boys held off Topeka West’s late rally in a 60-55 win that keeps them atop the Centennial League standings. It was, as expected, a hard-fought, defensive-minded game between two teams with coaches who want their teams to take pride on that end of the floor. Rural opened up an early advantage thanks to hot three-point shooting. They held a nine-point lead at the break and opened it up to 13 before West got their offense unstuck and closed to within three on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter. But every time West would draw close, the Junior Blues had an answer from either Joe Berry, who led Rural with 18 points, or Josh Williams, who is proving to be a clutch performer of late as he scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth. Noah Krueger hit five threes and scored a season-high 17 points in the win for the Junior Blues as well. Last year’s 6A runners-up were notoriously excellent at closing out tight games, and this group appears to have similar poise and confidence in those situations. The Chargers showed tremendous fight in the second half as Tre Alexander got himself going to score a game-high 21 points. West also is seeing a breakout from Marque Wilkerson, who has emerged as a third option in the backcourt, scoring 12 points for his third-consecutive double-digit scoring game. In the girls game, the Lady Blues scored the game’s first 10 points and never looked back, routing the Lady Chargers 71-26. Kasey Hamilton was outstanding for Rural, scoring a game-high 22 points to lead four Lady Blues in double figures. The Lady Blues have won four straight after a 2-2 start and their young players, like Brooklyn DeLeye and Maryah Lutz, are growing in confidence with every game. The Lady Chargers got eight points from Miyah Larson, and they have good outside shooting and an interior scoring threat in Tialah Taylor that give them a chance to be competitive, but they have to start cutting down on turnovers so they can have more productive possessions.
-One of the city’s best rivalries produced the night’s biggest upset and its most frantic finish. The Hayden Lady Wildcats and first-year head coach Carvel Reynoldson have a signature win, as they went on the road to hand Seaman their first loss in a 61-52 victory. Hayden trailed by 14 early but kept their cool and stormed back, with their senior point guard Sophia Purcell steadying the ship and leading the way. Purcell’s 20 points led the Lady Wildcats in the win, with Macy Smith adding 11 points. Hayden hit some clutch threes, defended Lady Vikes stars Camryn Turner and Chloe Carter effectively (holding Carter to 14 points and Turner to 13), and iced the game at the free throw line. They’ve now won four of their last five and are starting to look the part of a 4A contender. The boys game came down to the wire, with both Hayden and Seaman regretting many mistakes in the final minute of play, but in the end, it was a turnover forced by the Wildcats that allowed them to survive with a 47-46 victory. John Roeder‘s deadeye three-point shooting set the tone early for Hayden, but Seaman, despite dealing with injuries, continued to fight, thanks to the efforts of Dagen Brewer (14 points) and Mateo Hyman (13 points). The Wildcats got 12 points from Vacarrio Triplett and 11 from Cade Pavlik and held the Vikings scoreless for the final 2:31 to preserve the win. Both squads will leave pleased with their effort and intensity, but it’s the Wildcats who come away with the win while Seaman still awaits their first of the season.
-The Shawnee Heights T-Birds and Lady T-Birds took care of business in UKC matchups against Turner, with the girls winning 60-7 and the boys triumphing 67-21. Kam Wells and Adysen Burghart led the Lady T-Birds with nine points, but defense was the story of the night for Heights as they completely stifled the Lady Bears and held them scoreless for the entire second half. It was a chance for coach Bob Wells to get some lesser-used players some experience, and they showed promise in seeing the game out as Heights earned their first UKC win of the season. It was also the first league win for the boys, who blanked Turner in the first quarter and eased to the win from there. Nasire Anderson poured in 20 points as he continues to transform the T-Birds offense into a more complete unit with his post presence. It was a necessary bounce-back for the T-Birds after the disappointing loss Tuesday night to Basehor-Linwood.