Potter, Beck and Warren among 4A's best high school basketball players
The Circle High School boys basketball team accomplished something they had not done since 2013 — beat AVCTL DIII foe McPherson.
There are very few similarities between Circle’s win seven years ago and their win Friday, Feb. 15. Both wins were at home, but even the gym has been changed and updated since then.
When Circle defeated McPherson in 2013, the Thunderbirds did so by way of defense. Circle held McPherson to 43 points in a two-point win.
In the most recent meeting, Circle’s Jude Warren scored 50 points by himself in an 81-65 win.
While Warren’s outburst was sensational, it wasn par for the course for the 6-foot-1 senior. A few weeks earlier on Feb. 5, Warren set a career high and school record with 46 points in a 77-70 win over Clearwater.
Amazingly, Warren also scored 43 points in Circle’s second game of the season against Independence.
For most players, scoring 46 points would have been difficult to top. But Warren’s 50-piece against McPherson was one for the ages.
Warren went an astonishing 16-of-20 from the field and 13-of-19 from the free throw line. Lost in his scoring outbreak was the fact he finished with 12 rebounds for a double-double.
"In all three games, I knew Jude was playing well and shooting the ball well, but I never dreamed that he scored as many points as he did until I looked at the scorebook at the end of the games,” Circle boys head coach Bo Horyna said. “Jude was as surprised as everyone else when broke the scoring record.”
Last season, Warren averaged 20 points and six rebounds a game.
If the Circle boys are to advance to state, they will have to defeat Ulysses in the first round followed by a tough matchup with third-ranked Wichita Trinity.
“We proved we can play with the best teams in the state, and McPherson is one of those teams,” Horyna said. “I think with Jude on the floor, our team feels we have a great chance to win night in and night out.”
While the Circle girls are still trying to get over the McPherson hump, the Thunderbirds have fielded solid teams the past four seasons thanks in large part to Carissa Beck and Alsyon Potter.
Beck, a 5-7 guard, and Potter, a 6-2 post, led Circle to the Class 4A State Tournament last season. Although Circle ran into a buzzsaw in Bishop Miege in the first round, Beck and Potter have the Thunderbirds ranked fifth in 4A and primed for a repeat trip to the state tournament.
Beck and Potter do a tremendous job of complementing each other.
“Carissa and Alyson are both tremendous players and share many similar characteristics,” Circle girls head coach Brian Henry said. “Both can shoot from the perimeter, both can penetrate, and both can add a physical presence inside. Of course, with Alyson's size, she has a little bit of an advantage of taking her game inside over Carissa. They both do a good job of looking for each other, especially in transition.”
Beck, a Butler County Community College commit, entered the season with 161 career 3-pointers made. She’s also an exceptional free throw shooter as evident by her 87 percent mark last year.
Potter will play at Division I Southern Illinois next year. Although her career did not start in Towanda, Circle Nation is glad to have her.
Potter transferred from Neodesha after her sophomore season when her father was named the USD 375 Superintendent.
At Neodesha, Potter averaged over 17 points a game as a freshman. Her sophomore season was cut short due to injury after beginning the year averaging over 19 a game.
While her height gives her an advantage on smaller defenders, Potter is a versatile player who can play down low or on the perimeter. Additionally, she is just as versatile defensively as she is offensively, with the ability to defend guards and forwards.
Beck and Potter carry most of the load, but the Thunderbirds also return five letterwinners from last year’s state-tournament team.
“Even though both are tremendous players, we really wouldn't be at this level without the support of several other players,” Henry said. “If teams decide to extend and guard the perimeter, we have size and ability to pound it inside,” Henry said. “If teams want to take away our inside game, well, that opens up our perimeter game. It really is a team effort.”
In order to repeat as sub-state champions, Circle will have to knock off Topeka Hayden (6-13) and the winner of Pratt (13-6) vs Andale (10-8). Both games are scheduled for Thursday evening.
Gallagher Martin is a sportswriter for the McPherson Sentinel and Kansas Pregame. Kansas Pregame covers high school sports in the Sunflower State. Know of a great story that needs to be told? We want to hear from you! Email us the next great story or video focused on Kansas high school sports at firstname.lastname@example.org.