It’s the final Tuesday night edition of the Hoops Rewind for the 2019-20 season! Last night a Centennial League champion was crowned and there were major shakeups in the sub-state standings. Here’s how it all went down…
-For a third straight year, the Topeka High Trojans can call themselves Centennial League champions. It went down to the wire at Ken Darting Gymnasium, but the Trojans survived a last-ditch Highland Park comeback attempt to win 54-52 and improve their record in the league to 11-3, securing at least a share of the league crown. It’s the 11th win in their last 12 games for Eric King’s Trojans after a 4-4 start, and it was capped, as so many of those wins have been, by a big fourth quarter run. High scored 10 straight points after Highland Park had taken a one-point lead with about five and a half minutes to play, and then withstood some turnovers, missed free throws, and a furious Scots rally keyed by Jahi Peppers getting to the bucket at will. Peppers and Juan’Tario Roberts each scored 15 for HP, and CJ Powell led them with 16, but Roberts and Powell each missed shots that would have given the Scots the lead or a tie in the final minute. The Trojans got 19 points from Jalen Smith and 13 from King Sutton, despite foul trouble. King put the Trojans in a zone with Sutton up top and it caused enough confusion for the Scots that it allowed Topeka High to go on that decisive fourth-quarter run. In the girls game, Topeka High capped off a 20-0 regular season with a 93-43 win over Highland Park. The Lady Scots came out strong offensively thanks to the return of Aisya Taylor in the post. She scored 17 and Dariauna Carter added 16, but HP just could not keep up with the relentless, up-tempo pace of the Lady Trojans. Nija Canady‘s 24 points were a game high and the sister act of Lily and Kiki Smith combined for 42 points. It was a season-high in points for the Lady Trojans, and if not for several missed lay-ups, they would have cleared the century mark with room to spare. Now, the Lady Trojans await the sub-state round as one of two unbeaten teams left in class 6A.
-In the other matchup between city schools last night, Topeka West and Hayden split the spoils. The Charger boys picked up a 56-40 win, with their two outstanding wings Tre Alexander and Elijah Brooks leading the way. If I may mix sports metaphors, Alexander was the game’s Justin Verlander, starting the game in dominant fashion with 14 first-half points and finishing with 17. In the fourth quarter, Brooks, as he’s so often been this season, was the game’s Mariano Rivera – the closer. He scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to stave off any thoughts of a Wildcat comeback. When those two are firing on all cylinders, West is as good as any team around. Hayden got 10 points from Noah Schneider in defeat. The girls game saw Hayden handle West, 68-40. It was an off scoring night for Sophia Purcell of the Lady Wildcats, who had just five points, but Macy Smith (23 points) and Carly Stuke (15 points) filled that void more than adequately. Those two sophomores are the bright future for the Lady Wildcats. Topeka West got a typically solid night from Miyah Larson, who scored 16 points in defeat and is finishing her senior season with valiant efforts.
-The Seaman Lady Vikes made it 10 wins in a row by thumping Junction City 62-32. Seaman scored the first 12 points of the game and never looked back thanks to an unselfish offensive effort. As per usual, Camryn Turner set the tone, finishing with 19 points, and also as per usual, Chloe Carter was right there with her, adding 12 points. Seaman has secured the #2 seed in the 5A East sub-state and have a great shot at getting back to Emporia. The Seaman boys had their whole team healthy and available, a rarity this season, but a first-half scoring drought doomed the Vikings as they lost to the Blue Jays 67-56. Dagen Brewer, one of Seaman’s several promising young guards, led the way for them with 19 points, including four threes.
-In United Kansas Conference play, the Shawnee Heights Thunderbirds and Lady T-Birds saw winning streaks halted at the hands of Basehor-Linwood. The Lady T-Birds lost a hard-fought affair, 42-34, while the Heights boys were no match for the UKC champions in a 71-41 defeat.
-Washburn Rural’s boys and girls traveled to Olathe North for games with significant sub-state seeding implications. The Rural boys secured a top-4 seed in the 6A West with an impressive 60-48 win. That win, coupled with Lawrence’s loss, means that Rural would be the #2 overall seed in the sub-state with a win Friday night against Topeka West. Rural also needs a win Friday to share the league title with Topeka High. The Lady Blues started slowly and never recovered in a 56-41 defeat. That loss all but ensures that Rural’s girls will be the #6 seed in the 6A West (unless Rural beats West, Dodge City loses to Hays, and Rural wins the points allowed tiebreaker), which would send them to Wichita for a rematch with Wichita Heights in a possible sub-state final. The Lady Falcons beat Rural 56-34 in the Glacier’s Edge tournament final in January.