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It’s the start of the penultimate week of the high school basketball regular season – a three or four-game sprint to a league title, the best seed you can get at sub-state, and momentum heading into the postseason. Here’s how Tuesday night went down…

-On our Envista Credit Union Tuesday Night Hoops doubleheader, Highland Park rebounded strongly from a surprising loss last Friday night to rout Hayden, 56-37. A loss to Junction City was the Scots’ first home loss of the season and cost them a chance to vault into the Centennial League lead, but they didn’t let that loss beat them twice as they came out firing against the Wildcats, sprinting to a 13-2 lead and never letting Hayden closer than five points the rest of the way. A 15-0 run to close the third quarter turned the fourth into a formality as the Scots pushed the tempo offensively and frustrated Hayden’s guards with their defense. Jahi Peppers led a balanced HP attack with 16 points, CJ Powell added 12 (including a punctuating transition dunk in the fourth quarter that caused pandemonium at the ‘Pressure Cooker’) and Juan’Tario Roberts chipped in 11. The Wildcats were led by Noah Schneider, who scored 13 points and showed toughness and touch in the post, but it’s now nine straight defeats for them as they continue to search for consistent offense. The girls game was similarly one-sided but in the other direction as Hayden topped Highland Park 51-29 to snap a three-game skid. The Lady Wildcats never trailed thanks to an early three point barrage and a relentless effort on the glass at both ends, with Sydney Hillmer and Rhen Calhoon seemingly determined to grab every rebound. Sophia Purcell used her picture-perfect shooting form to carry the offense, scoring 14 points. Aaliyah Washington paced Highland Park with a dozen, but it was a tough night for Dariauna Carter and her teammates from behind the three-point arc as they missed 16 of their 17 attempts from deep.

-Topeka West’s boys kept their league title hopes alive with a 57-48 win over Seaman at the Chargerdome. Elijah Brooks went nuts for the Chargers, pouring in a game-high 25 points as he helped West hold off a stubborn, shorthanded Seaman squad. Without Kaden Bonner, the Vikings used just six players, and Ty Henry scored 14 points to lead their offense. They hung around all night but couldn’t put together a run because of the scoring efforts of Brooks and Tre Alexander, who had 14 points for West. The girls game saw the Lady Vikes rack up their eighth straight win, stretching their legs in the second half to earn a 48-26 win over the Lady Chargers. Camryn Turner set the pace for Seaman with an efficient offensive performance, scoring 23 points on just 13 shots. The Lady Vikes are getting locked in and have all but secured home-court advantage in a 5A East sub-state.

-The Topeka High girls secured the Centennial League championship last night with a 64-26 rout of Emporia. The Lady Trojans are tightening up on defense down the stretch as it may be the only way to improve their seeding in a 6A West sub-state with two other teams matching their current 18-0 record. But they’ve got plenty of offense, too, and the 1-2 punch of Kiki Smith (20 points) and Nija Canady (19 points) provided more than enough of that to secure the win and the league title, which they shared with Washburn Rural last year. In the boys game, Topeka High weathered the absence of Da’Vonshai Harden to hold off Emporia 55-51 to keep their spot atop the league table. Jalen Smith continued his breakout season for the Trojans, scoring 18 points and putting the game on ice with two free throws in the final seconds, and the Trojans got a valuable contribution from Camren Cooks, who buried three three-pointers for his best scoring game of the season. Eric King’s bunch keeps finding ways to win and they are looming as a 6A darkhorse.

-There’s still a tie atop the Centennial League’s boys standings thanks to Washburn Rural’s 48-40 win over Manhattan last night. Rural went into the fourth quarter up by 12, but the Indians got within three and held the Junior Blues without a field goal for the entire final eight minutes. The free throw line proved to be Rural’s salvation, as they made all eight of their charity tosses in the last two minutes to survive the comeback efforts of Manhattan. Joe Berry led the way for the Junior Blues with 15 points, and both Jack Hutchinson and Quincey Kidd (one of the breakout players of the second half of the season) chipped in a dozen. In the girls game, the Lady Blues completed the season series sweep of the Indians with a 51-40 triumph. Rural dug in on defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Lady Indians scoreless over a five-minute stretch to squelch any thoughts of a rally. Emma Krueger scored 14 points for the Lady Blues, as did MaRyah Lutz off the bench, using her long distance shooting to spark Rural in the first half.

-In United Kansas Conference action last night, Shawnee Heights’ boys and girls pummeled Turner. Kam Wells scored 11 points to lead the Lady T-Birds to their fifth win in six games, a 59-15 victory. The Thunderbird boys were led by Nasire Anderson‘s 16 points in their 62-27 win. Neither game was ever in doubt and both ended with the mercy clock.

LEAGUE STANDINGS AFTER TUESDAY’S GAMES

CENTENNIAL LEAGUE

Boys

t1) Topeka High 9-3
t1) Washburn Rural 9-3
3) Highland Park 8-3
t4) Manhattan 7-4
t4) Topeka West 7-4
t6) Emporia 4-7
t6) Junction City 4-7
8) Hayden 2-10
9) Seaman 1-11

Girls

1) Topeka High 12-0
2) Washburn Rural 10-2
3) Seaman 9-3
t4) Emporia 5-6
t4) Manhattan 5-6
6) Hayden 5-7
7) Highland Park 4-7
8) Junction City 2-9
9) Topeka West 1-10

UNITED KANSAS CONFERENCE

Boys

1) Basehor-Linwood 7-0
2) Shawnee Heights 5-2
3) De Soto 4-3
4) Lansing 3-4
5) Leavenworth 2-5
6) Turner 0-7

Girls

1) De Soto 5-1
t2) Basehor-Linwood 5-2
t2) Lansing 5-2
4) Shawnee Heights 3-3
5) Leavenworth 2-5
6) Turner 0-7


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