Thrilling nights of basketball have been the norm in the wide-open Centennial League this year. Friday night’s action saw things get all jumbled up again at the top of the boys standings while some of the favorites on the girls side had their hands full. Here’s a recap of all the games…
-Our #580Preps Featured doubleheader took us to Seaman, where the red-hot Vikings hosted Topeka High. The game looked as though it would be a defensive struggle after the first half, with High clinging to a 26-24 lead. Then a switch got flipped and we witnessed high-octane, high-scoring basketball the rest of the way, with big plays galore, from Larry White dunks to Kaden Henley and Nathan Heinen threes. But on a night when two of the most potent starting fives in the city showed out, it was the only basket by a reserve in the entire game that proved the difference, as King Sutton‘s three-point play with two minutes left gave the Trojans the lead for good in a 67-63 win. Ky Thomas played the closer’s role for the Trojans, sinking 8 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Trojans survive with the win. Thomas (22 points) and White (21) were too much for Seaman to handle, though the Vikings got big games from their post duo of Trey Duffey (21 points) and Jackson Cobb (16). With the win, T-High is now back in the Centennial League lead… but they’ve got company, about which, more later on.
-In the girls game at Seaman, the short-handed Lady Vikes came away with a 43-42 win, holding off a furious fourth-quarter comeback from the Lady Trojans. Camryn Turner made one of two free throws with just under 30 seconds to play and Topeka High missed two shots on the other end that would have given them the win. Playing without standout sophomore post Katera Mayfield, the Lady Vikes got 10 first quarter points from Hallee Olson-Thomas to help build a lead and 11 total points from Turner to help them stave off the stubborn Lady Trojans, whose balanced offense was led by nine points from Jaryn Benning. It’s just the second time all season the Lady Vikes have won back-to-back games, but a third straight won’t come easily with a visit from Highland Park coming on Tuesday.
-‘The Ken’ was rocking as Centennial League leaders Washburn Rural came to face the surging Hayden Wildcats, and the home crowd bore witness to a vintage Zach Harvey performance in a 69-58 Wildcat victory that moved Hayden into a tie with Rural at 6-3 in the league. Harvey poured in a game-high 30 points, his second 30-point performance of the season, and scored in the variety of ways he’s capable of doing so, looking as spry as he has all season after fighting ankle injuries. His ability to get into the paint opened up the perimeter and Levi Braun took full advantage. The junior sharpshooter buried six threes and finished with 21 points. Jack Hamilton, whose scoring touch is returning down the stretch, finished with a season-high 16 points to lead Rural in the losing effort. Make it three straight wins and six of seven for Hayden.
-The Lady Junior Blues bounced back nicely from their disappointing loss to Manhattan, using a big second half to pull away from Hayden 47-24. Rural held the Lady Wildcats scoreless in the third quarter and outscored Hayden 17-8 in the fourth. Carly Bachelor poured in a game-high 20 points and as usual Kendall Michalski wasn’t far behind with 13 points. The Lady Junior Blues no longer control their own destiny in the Centennial League race, but they can still win their way into hosting a sub-state, with a state berth still very much a possibility. As for Hayden, though they’ve lost four of five, they’ll have a chance these final two weeks to get some momentum going.
-The magic continues for the Topeka West Chargers, who have clinched their first winning season since 2010 after their 59-52 win over Highland Park moved them to 11-5 on the season. Not only are the Chargers assured a winning campaign, they’re also back into that first-place tie in the league with Rural, Topeka High and Hayden. In a matchup between arguably the best two-man backcourt and the best three-man backcourt in the league, it was West’s Koriyon Carr (18 points) and Elijah Griffin (14) who came out on top despite a combined 41 points from Highland Park’s Kenny Stewart (21), Dasani Giardina (11) and Will White (9). The Chargers took the lead for good with 5:41 to play on an Elliot Mehrens three-pointer and withstood the Scots’ comeback efforts. As frustrating as this spell has been for the Scots – they’re 2-6 in their last eight games – they are still just a game off the leaders in the Centennial League and nobody will be looking forward to playing them the last two weeks.
-It’s now a seven-game winning streak for the Highland Park Lady Scots, who squeezed out a 38-27 win over Topeka West. The Lady Chargers forced the Lady Scots into one of their worst offensive performances of the season, but an 11-2 run to finish off the game was enough for Highland Park to move to 12-3 on the season. Dariauna Carter scored 15 points and Jae’Mya Lyons, ‘Ms. Double-Double’, had 10 points and 12 boards. The loss was the fifth in a row for the Lady Chargers but they’ve used their defense to be in some close games of late, and if shots start falling they’ll have a chance to get back in the win column in their final four games.
-For the second time in a week the Shawnee Heights Thunderbirds met overtime heartbreak, falling 62-55 at Junction City. Tyce Brown continued his second-half offensive surge, scoring 15 points, but the T-Birds were stymied in the extra session, as they were outscored 12-5 by the Blue Jays. The T-Birds will surely be a hungry team this week as they seek to snap a hard-luck five-game skid.
-The Lady T-Birds also lost Friday night in Junction City as the Lady Blue Jays got hot from the field in the second half to hand Heights a 63-52 defeat. The loss puts a damper on a monster night from Lydia Ostenson, who scored a season-high 28 points and nearly brought the Lady T-Birds back to a win with 16 points in the second half. Heights has lost three in a row but are starting to show some offensive improvement.