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After two weeks of tournament basketball, the Hoops Rewind returns along with regular Tuesday/Friday scheduling the rest of the season! It’s February, meaning it’s crunch time for the Centennial League and sub-state seeding races. Let’s look back at the city’s action last night, starting with a doubleheader at the Chargerdome…

-The Topeka West Chargers haven’t won a Centennial League title since 2005. They came agonizingly close two seasons ago, but they’re right back in the mix this season. On a night where coach Rick Bloomquist was celebrated for reaching 500 career wins, he earned victory number 501 as the Chargers held off Topeka High 64-57 to stay half a game off the leader’s pace in the league. A 21-9 third quarter margin helped the Chargers separate, and although the Trojans have been a great fourth quarter team all season long, they didn’t have enough juice in their second game in as many nights to reel West in, only getting as close as four points in the fourth before the Chargers prevailed. Elijah Brooks put up his second straight 20-point game to lead the Chargers, who also got 15 big points off the bench from Dre Durall, who seems to love playing in front of big, energetic home crowds. Dylan Wolf has provided a tremendous spark for West since joining their rotation, and the junior southpaw scored 12 points to help offset an off night from Tre Alexander, who was held to just six points due to foul trouble. Topeka High’s King Sutton continued his outstanding play of late, leading all scorers with 23 points, but Da’Vonshai Harden cooled after a hot start and other key Trojans struggled with foul trouble in the game. It’s a big win for West in front of a great crowd, and a shame we don’t get to see these two teams play again this year. In the girls game between the two schools, it was Topeka High’s fifth game in six days, a preposterous stretch of play, but you’d never have known it watching the Lady Trojans suffocate the Lady Chargers with their press and gallop up and down the floor for layups at will in an 86-27 win to stay undefeated. Kiki Smith and Nija Canady combined for 37 points in the game as the two showcased their immense and rare talents, and Lily Smith showed off her shooting range in a 17-point night. Topeka West never stopped playing hard, with Miyah Larson scoring 10 points and promising freshman McKinsey Jones adding six, but they had little chance against the Lady Trojan machine that is now 14-0.

-Highland Park’s boys are right there in that Centennial League race, too, and they earned an emphatic 65-48 win over Emporia at home. The Scots got Juan’Tario Roberts rolling after he’d had a tough offensive night last time out at Shawnee Heights, and he led the way with a 21-point performance. CJ Powell added 17 on another typically excellent night for the hard-to-guard 6’7″ junior, and emerging point guard Jahi Peppers scored nine points. It was a tougher night for the Lady Scots, as they fell victim to a shooting barrage from the visiting Lady Spartans in a 59-27 defeat. Dariauna Carter scored 17 of Highland Park’s 27 points, but her teammates struggled from the field and Emporia… well, Emporia sure didn’t, knocking down three after three to pull away.

-The Shawnee Heights girls and boys earned road wins at Tonganoxie. The T-Bird boys got back to the .500 mark with a 50-39 win, highlighted by their stingy defense and an impressive display by one of the city’s best shooters. Isiah Johnson canned four first-half threes as part of a 20-point night to lift Heights, who was playing without the injured Marquis Barksdale. Promising senior post Nasire Anderson added eight points in the winning effort. The Lady T-Birds were even better on the defensive end, stifling Tonganoxie in a 35-19 triumph for their second straight win. Senior Kam Wells lit it up for Heights, dropping in 18 points as they, too, got back to .500 on the season.

-There were two other Centennial League boys games last night. Washburn Rural stayed atop the Centennial League by half a game by holding off Seaman 51-44. Joe Berry poured in 22 points despite not starting the game, and seven other Junior Blues scored to help hold off a stubborn Seaman squad desperately clawing for their first win of the season. The Vikings are getting healthier, and their younger players are getting better, as evidenced by freshman Kaden Bonner‘s 12 points and Mateo Hyman‘s 11 points, so that win, and more, are sure to come, but Rural needed a win too after a surprising overtime loss to Junction City last Friday, and got it. Speaking of Junction, they defeated Hayden 45-39 in a grinder of a game at The Ken. The Wildcats are going through a tough stretch right now, competitive most nights but struggling to execute down the stretch in close games. Vacarrio Triplett is emerging as their main man offensively, and he led the way with 12 points in the defeat.

STANDINGS AFTER TUESDAY’S GAMES

CENTENNIAL LEAGUE GIRLS
Topeka High – 8-0
Washburn Rural – 7-1
Emporia – 4-2
Seaman – 4-3
Hayden – 4-4
Manhattan – 3-4
Topeka West – 1-6
Highland Park – 1-6
Junction City – 0-7

CENTENNIAL LEAGUE BOYS
Washburn Rural – 6-2
Topeka West – 5-2
Highland Park – 5-2
Topeka High – 5-3
Manhattan – 4-3
Junction City – 3-3
Emporia – 2-4
Hayden – 2-6
Seaman – 0-7

UNITED KANSAS CONFERENCE GIRLS
De Soto – 3-0
Lansing – 3-1
Basehor-Linwood – 2-1
Leavenworth – 1-2
Shawnee Heights – 1-3
Turner – 0-3

UNITED KANSAS CONFERENCE BOYS
Basehor-Linwood – 3-0
Shawnee Heights – 3-2
Lansing – 2-2
De Soto – 2-2
Leavenworth – 1-2
Turner – 0-3

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