Alright, now we’re off and running with high school basketball season. Everyone has hit the floor for at least their first game after Friday night’s action, so let’s take a look back at what unfolded…
-We begin with what was our featured game on 580 WIBW with Seaman taking on Lansing. The Vikings impressed with a 32-point third quarter barrage on their way to an easy 81-48 win over the Lions. Think about that number for a moment – 32 points in an eight-minute stretch of basketball. That’s some serious offense! Junior post Trey Duffey dominated that quarter, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the frame, but the offensive star of the night was senior guard Nathan Heinen, who poured in 24 points, of which 17 came in the first half. Heinen showed an impressive three-point stroke and the ability to get to the rim. He’s making an early name for himself as a first year starter for the Vikings. When Craig Cox’s crew runs their offense in sync, it’s a thing of beauty.
-As for the Lady Vikes… sometimes you just have an off night. and I believe that was the case for them in their 46-34 loss to Lansing. The Lady Lions were the aggressors, and despite forcing over 20 turnovers themselves, Seaman wasn’t able to capitalize often enough in transition. I was impressed with my first look freshman point guard Camryn Turner, who scored nine points, but the Lady Vikes as a whole never found an offensive rhythm. It will be a teachable moment for new head coach Matt Tinsley, for sure.
-How about those Topeka West Chargers? They hosted a Shawnee Heights team riding high after a 2-0 start and completely stunned them in the first eight minutes, holding them without a field goal and jumping to a 16-3 lead. The Chargers eased to a 59-41 victory from there, and they’re now 2-0 themselves with two convincing performances against Centennial League heavyweights. The Chargers’ secret to success isn’t much of a secret – they played their tails off, forcing 21 turnovers and being relentless on the offensive glass. Making effort plays isn’t new for West, but now they have the skill and experience to make that effort translate to wins. Seniors Elijah Griffin and Koriyon Carr furthered their ‘best backcourt in the city’ case in combining for 28 points, and senior Elliot Mehrens continued his fine start to the season with a 12-point, 8-rebound performance. Meanwhile, for the T-Birds, a double-digit loss may serve as a reality check after they were able to come back from deficits in their first two games. Expect them to get the message and come out for their games with a higher level of intensity to start with. Senior Zach Cummings has been a pleasant surprise for Heights early on, contributing on both ends with a three-point touch and tough defense.
-The Lady T-Birds are off the schneid and into the W column after they beat West 47-22. No surprise that Lydia Ostenson had a monster night – her 21 points led the way. It was a good night for the Heights bench as well, as freshmen Adysen Burghart and Tatum Brown, junior Baylie Sharp, and senior Brooke Petefish combined for 13 points. Bob Wells can be pleased with the development of his bench so far, particularly the two freshman. As for the Lady Chargers, offensive consistency is still their nemesis right now. They were held scoreless in the second quarter after only trailing 14-11 after one. A good sign for them was the shooting stroke of junior point guard Riley Zook, who knocked down three threes. That distance shooting threat can open up the floor for West’s posts in the long run.
-The Hayden boys were the last city team to make their debut this season, and they made it count with a 63-52 road win at Basehor-Linwood. Everybody knows Hayden’s ‘Big Three’ of Zach Harvey, DeShawn Hanika and Jett Canfield have game, but don’t forget about sophomore guard Levi Braun – because if you do, particularly if he’s behind the three-point arc, he’ll make you pay. Braun dropped in five threes as part of a 19-point night. With his perimeter threat, Hayden is extremely difficult to guard, because double-teaming a penetrating guard like Harvey or Canfield costs you an open three-point look.
-Hayden’s girls also won at Basehor-Linwood Friday, rallying back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to stun the Lady Bobcats 59-56. Sophia Purcell was Ms. Clutch in the fourth, hitting a pair of threes to help spark the comeback. She totaled 14 points, joining junior Brooklyn Hunter, who had 21, in double-figures. Madison Ellis added eight points for the Lady Wildcats, who found good scoring balance they’ll need to be at their best.
-Both Topeka High and Highland Park wrapped up tournament play over the weekend with fifth place finishes, and both teams had to stand up big in the dying moments of games to do so. The Trojans got a Ky Thomas buzzer-beater to force OT in an eventual 61-53 win over Leavenworth at the Leavenworth CNB Tourney, and the Scots hung on for a 60-59 win over Sumner at the Blue Valley Shootout. It’s big for both teams to come out of their tournaments with 2-1 tourney records and 2-2 overall records.
-And finally, Washburn Rural is into the W column on the boys side after a 68-59 win at Shawnee Mission Northwest. Congrats to new head coach Kevin Muff for his first win as a Junior Blue, and congrats to Jordan White for the ice in his veins that allowed him to make all 12 of his fourth-quarter charity tosses as part of a 30-point night. After two poor fourth quarters in their first two games, it’s a positive sign for Rural that they broke ahead and closed out a close game in the final eight minutes this time – and on the road, to boot.