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The Centennial League boys title race was turned on its head with some surprise results on Friday night, and it’s completely up for grabs with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. The girls race, meanwhile, was all but settled after a thrilling game between the league’s two best teams. Here’s what transpired on Friday night…

-Last year, Topeka High and Washburn Rural shared the spoils in girls basketball in the league, with each team winning on their respective home floors. The Lady Blues entered last night doubly motivated then, not only to avenge a December 20th loss to the Lady Trojans at The Dungeon, but to reverse a 38-point loss in that game. And there’s no question Rural is a better team now than then, and they proved it in pushing Topeka High to their limits. Freshman Brooklyn DeLeye played fearlessly, scoring 16 points, and Kasey Hamilton and Emma Krueger played solid two-way games, beating High’s vaunted press and holding the Lady Trojans to their lowest scoring output of the season. But at the end of the night, it was Topeka High keeping their poise in their closest game of the season and emerging with the 48-41 win to all but lock up the league crown with three games left. Nija Canady was just about unstoppable down low, scoring 16 to lead the Lady Trojans, and the three ball was crucial for the visitors, with JaNeysha Hendricks knocking down three of her team’s eight trifectas. The Lady Trojans remain unbeaten, while the Lady Blues are 12-4 with their four losses coming against teams that are a combined 49-3 this season (counting Topeka High only once).

The boys game was equally important for the league standings, with Rural leading High by a full game entering the night. But at the end of the night, the Trojans, who are now 6-1 in Centennial League road games, did what no team had done all year, coming into the Washburn Rural Activites Center and leaving with a victory. King Sutton and company dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the Junior Blues 21-10 on their way to a 57-42 win that leaves first place in the same two-way tie as the end of last season. Sutton’s 19 points led all scorers, and Jalen Smith, maybe the city’s most underrated player, was immense for the Trojans as well, getting to the rim at well. Rural got 15 points from Joe Berry, but they are in an offensive funk as a team and must get that sorted out with four games left for them to play.

-The reason the Junior Blues and Trojans are in the top spot in the league is because Highland Park missed their chance to take a half-game lead, dropping a home contest to Junction City, 44-41. Full credit to the Blue Jays, one night after losing at Topeka West, for keeping their legs and finding ways through the Scots defense. CJ Powell had another big night for Highland Park, finishing with 17 points, but there wasn’t enough supplemental scoring after a hot start for the Scots. In the girls game, the Lady Scots were down to just five players due to injuries and illness, but Sanetra Jackson’s girls, no matter how many of them there are, play so hard, and their efforts were rewarded with a 49-47 win. Dariauna Carter scored 18 big points and little-used Cierra Lee scored the go-ahead bucket in the final minute as Highland Park earned a season-series sweep of the Lady Jays.

-One of the most important games of the night was a non-league girls game between Class 5A #5 Seaman and Class 5A #7 De Soto, two of the top teams in the 5A East sub-state standings. The Lady Vikes stayed hot, winning their seventh straight game with a convincing 47-31 triumph over the Lady Wildcats. Camryn Turner poured in a game high 22 points and Chloe Carter wasn’t far behind, scoring 17. Few have managed to slow both of those outstanding players in a given night and the Lady Vikes have all but locked up home-court for a sub-state. In the boys game, Seaman battled tough but couldn’t hold on to a second half lead, ultimately succumbing 55-48 to a very good Wildcat team. The Vikings have naturally gotten better as the season has gone on and as they have gotten healthier and subsequently deeper, but a second win has proven elusive as scoring lapses continue to crop up.

-Hayden and Manhattan played in a pair of exciting games in Manhattan, but the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats both ended up on the losing end. Hayden’s girls rallied hard from an early double-figure deficit but couldn’t fully close the gap in a 41-36 loss. Sophia Purcell led the way for Hayden with 11 points, but the Lady Wildcats had trouble defending Manhattan’s 6’3″ center Zanaa Cordis and her play was the difference between the two otherwise evenly-matched squads. The boys game needed four extra minutes to be decided before the Indians eked out a 55-53 win. The Wildcats had three double-figure scorers, led by John Roeder‘s 12 points, and showed tremendous grit in battling back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force the extra session, but they continue to search for the win that could springboard them to more as sub-state play nears.

-Topeka West’s boys and girls both suffered home defeats to Emporia. It’s now three losses out of four for the Chargers, who lost at home for the first time this season against an athletic Spartan team who played a near-flawless game in winning 61-52. Elijah Brooks had another big night offensively for West, scoring 22 points, but they perhaps felt the effects of a back-to-back on the schedule as they could not reel the Spartans back in late. The Lady Chargers’ struggles continues as they lost to the Lady Spartans, 49-26. West’s effort was much better than it had been the night before in their loss to Junction City, but they sorely miss Tialah Taylor‘s offensive presence in the post as she has missed the last few games with an illness.

CENTENNIAL LEAGUE STANDINGS AFTER FRIDAY’S GAMES

Boys

t1) Washburn Rural 8-3
t1) Topeka High 8-3
t3) Highland Park 7-3
t3) Manhattan 7-3
5) Topeka West 6-4
6) Junction City 4-6
7) Emporia 3-6
8) Hayden 2-9
9) Seaman 1-10

Girls

1) Topeka High 11-0
2) Washburn Rural 9-2
3) Seaman 8-3
4) Emporia 5-4
5) Manhattan 5-5
6) Hayden 4-7
7) Highland Park 3-7
t8) Junction City 1-9
t8) Topeka West 1-9


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