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Ryan "steals" the show

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Central Plains junior nearly eclipses state single game steals record; Oilers continue win streak

  • Central Plains junior Emily Ryan, one of the state's top basketball players, nearly broke the state single game steals record in a win over Macksville. (Photos by Everett Royer,
    Central Plains junior Emily Ryan, one of the state's top basketball players, nearly broke the state single game steals record in a win over Macksville. (Photos by Everett Royer,

If you haven't heard of Central Plains junior Emily Ryan by now, you probably don't follow Kansas sports at all.

Likely the state's top basketball player, Ryan puts up staggering scoring numbers nightly for an Oiler team that is shooting for a sixth consecutive state title. But Ryan is not one dimensional, a fact she emphasized in last Tuesday night's win over Macksville when it was thought she eclipsed the state single game steals record with 20.

Per Kansas Sports Hall of Fame policy, after review of the game tape her official steals number was 17, leaving her performance in second place for a single game behind current record holder Becca Holman of Burlington. Her mark of 19 steals in a single game came in 2007.

The Central Plains girls are in the middle of a historic run. Friday's Hilltop Classic Championship win over St. John (60-19) was the Oilers' 97th consecutive victory. Over the course of the three tournament games the Oilers shot almost 90 percent from the free-throw line and nearly 60 percent from the field to go along with a better than 40 percent clip from beyond the three-point line.

Ryan hit all 17 free-throws she shot in the tournament as well as 6 of 12 three-point attempts.

Central Plains has established a number of team records during this historic six-year run including consecutive state championships won (5), average margin of victory (46.2, 2018), team single season free-throw percentage (75.4, 2017) and single game field goal percentage (71.4 on 30 of 42 shooting, 2017 vs. Otis-Bison).

If the Oilers are able to complete another unbeaten season punctuated with yet another state championship it will extend their record for consecutive championships, leave them alone atop the consecutive undefeated seasons category and see them eclipse Hoxie's all-time consecutive wins record of 107 established from 2012-16.

While Ryan is the star of the show her supporting cast are no slouches. Delaney Rugan scored 26 points in the three tournament games, Rachael Lamatsch added 23 points (including 4 of 9 from three-point range), Avery Hurley added 19 total points and Addison Crites chipped in 18 points during the Hilltop Classic.

Crites led the team with 11 total rebounds in the tourney followed by Ryan with 9 and Lamatsch with 8. Ryan dished out 14 assists followed by Hurley with 9, Rugan with 8 and Crites and Lamatsch with 7 assists each.

For a complete list of state records visit the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame website at For more coverage of Ryan and the Central Plains Oilers follow Jim Misunas (@jimmisunas), Brad Doebele (@catfan28‏) or Conor Nicholl (@cnichollHays) on Twitter.

Here's Conor Nicholl's feature on Ryan from this year's Winter Sports Preview.

The roots for Central Plains junior Emily Ryan’s success comes from the family home, located in the country, six to seven miles outside of Claflin.

The Ryans have a basketball court and room to put up a volleyball net. Emily has three older siblings, all outstanding athletes.

Janae played on four state basketball championship teams, averaged 17 points a game as a senior, and won back-to-back state doubles titles in tennis for Central Plains in 2015-16. She currently plays tennis at Sterling College. Janae and Emily are best friends. Michael was a three-sport standout and spent time on the Sterling basketball team. Senior Devin Ryan is an all-state defensive back and Oiler point guard who led CP to an undefeated state boys’ basketball title last winter.

“Very competitive all the time,” Emily said. “We always liked to play basketball against each other and stuff like that, so that really instilled the competitive drive in me.”

Their dad, Jim, is the Oiler girls’ assistant basketball coach. He taught Emily how to shoot correctly, form she has continually practiced.

“I have just put in a lot of repetitions everyday,” Emily said.

Emily, the reigning Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, has enjoyed a remarkable career. This fall, she went 35-1 and was the state tennis runner-up. Last winter, Ryan was the only full-time returning starter. She averaged 22 points as a freshman and 34.5 points a game as a sophomore. CP captured its fifth straight crown and fourth undefeated season in the last five years. Since the start of ’13-14, CP is 142-1 with a current 97-game winning streak. The all-time record is 107 wins, set by Hoxie.

“The results of the team matter most to me,” Ryan said.

Coach Pat Stiles has spent more than 30 years at Claflin in various roles. Pat’s daughter is Jackie Stiles, who set multiple records at Claflin and is a current assistant at her alma mater, Missouri State.

“He’s the best,” Ryan said. “There is no one in the state better than him, and we are very lucky we get to have him.”

The Oilers have excellent team chemistry and play suffocating defense at a quick tempo that yields fast breaks. At 2A state last March, Ryan averaged 28 points a game and helped CP hold three opponents to a combined 26 percent shooting. CP is playing in 1A this season.

“It’s awesome,” Ryan said. “We all get along really well, and we have been playing together since we have been in second and third grade, so that just really helps us play together well, and it’s been fun.”

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