Kansas Pregame takes a look at a few noteworthy stories from recent high school sports action
Check out a few noteworthy stories from recent Kansas high school basketball and wrestling action, and head to Subway for pre- or post-game meals, catering or Footlong Faves starting at $4.99. Order online at Subway.com.
Hoisington wins Winter Jam
Drew Nicholson earned Hoisington’s team player of the game honors after the Cardinals defeated La Crosse, 54-33, to win the Hoisington Winter Jam on Saturday. Nicholson, a junior, has helped Hoisington with a big turnaround this winter and quietly emerge as one of Kansas’ top surprises. Versus La Crosse, Nicholson had 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting as the Cardinals shot 58 percent as a team. He also contributed nine rebounds and three assists. Junior Mason Haxton tallied 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting for a team that received 49 of its 54 points from non-seniors.
Nicholson and junior Holt Hanzlick (two points, one rebound) have both returned from injury. Hanzlick missed all of football, though has been a rotational player for the entire basketball season. The 6-foot-6 Nicholson has played in five games and averaged 16.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists a contest. Hoisington is 9-1 and has won seven in a row. Nicholson and Haxton have been the team’s top-two scorers the last two seasons. As freshman, Nicholson delivered 14.4 points a game, and Haxton averaged 11.6 points a contest.
Last year, on a team with two seniors, Nicholson delivered 16.5 points and 6.4 rebounds, while Haxton was at 14.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and three steals a contest. This year, sophomore Bralen Thompson is at 11.9 points a game, while Haxton delivers 11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and three assists.
Hoisington’s only loss is a 58-38 defeat Dec. 13 to St. John in the Gene Keady Classic tournament in Larned. On Jan. 18, the Cardinals beat Hesston, 56-53, when the Swathers were ranked first in Class 3A. Hesston is currently second in 3A at 11-1, and Hoisington remains unranked. Before this year, Hoisington had posted six straight under .500 records. Haxton, the coach since ’08-09, led Hoisington to 18-4, 18-5 and 17-5 records from 2010-13.
Trego girls win MCL Tournament, earn number one ranking
n a matchup of ranked teams, WaKeeney-Trego girls earned the Mid-Continent League championship with a 45-31 win against Phillipsburg on Saturday at Plainville High School. Trego continued to create school history with its first-ever MCL midseason tournament crown, a girls’ competition that has been played since 1976.
The Golden Eagles, consistently ranked fourth in 2A this winter, improved to 12-0. Top 2A teams Alma-Wabaunsee and Sterling both lost last week, and the Golden Eagles are one of four undefeated squads left in the classification, along with Jefferson County North, West Elk and Spearville.
Last year, the Golden Eagles were 20-5 and took fourth in 2A for its best finish in 42 years. This winter, the Golden Eagles returned 95 percent of its scoring, paced by junior Lili Shubert and senior Libby Frost. Shubert averaged 15.4 points and seven rebounds as a sophomore despite a fractured hand. Junior Tillie Malinowsky missed some time with a concussion.
This winter, Shubert, Frost, Malinowsky, sophomore Madison Walt, and senior Gracie Pfannenstiel have again led an excellent defensive squad.
Trego owns wins – all by at least nine points – versus Dighton (6-6), two versus Oakley (8-5), Smith Center (7-4), and Phillipsburg, 10-2 and ranked ninth in 3A. Trego has an average score 53.3-30.3. Last year, the Golden Eagles permitted 35.2 points a game.
In the last five contests, all versus MCL squads, Shubert has scored 22, 22, 27, 22 and 26 points. She and Frost tied for scoring in the first of those, and Shubert has led the squad in the last four. Trego has one all-time MCL regular season crown, according to mclhighschool.com. That was a three-way tie with Norton and Hill City in 1983.
Larned wins St. John Tournament
Larned won the St. John tournament with a 64-50 victory against Nickerson in the championship game Saturday. It marked the second tournament crown for Larned this season after the Indians won its own Gene Keady Classic in December, the first time in 13 years the Indians captured the Keady.
Larned opened 6-0 and bounced back from losses to Lakin and Lyons to improve to 10-2 and win St. John for the first occasion since 2008. Larned, coming off its first state appearance in 25 years, returned four starters on a senior-heavy team.
Seniors Brock Skelton, Mason Perez and Chance Sanger all earned all-tournament team honors. Sanger collected tournament MVP. In the final, Skelton collected 29 points, and Sanger tallied 15. Perez, a three-sport standout, has recently committed to Fort Hays football.
Four of the Indians’ top-five scorers are seniors. Sanger is at 13 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals a contest. Perez delivers 11.4 points. 5.9 assists, 3.6 steals and 2.9 assists. Skelton is at 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
South Central girls continue success in spite of graduation losses, low numbers
Coach Tim Rietzke won his 750th career game earlier this winter and has coached basketball for more than 40 seasons in Coldwater. The last three years, SC went a combined 68-7 and made state each winter, including a pair of final four showings. The Timberwolves graduated their top-two scorers from last season with Bri Rutherford (23.2 points per game) and Jordyn Jellison (9.3 points a contest). Sierra Jellison, as a freshman, delivered 5.4 points and 3.2 rebounds.
In 2019-20, SC lists just nine players on the roster and just one senior, Sorel Peterson. Still, the T-Wolves are 10-3, including a 41-36 win versus Hodgeman County in the SPIAA tournament Monday. The competition concludes this weekend at Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena.
Jellison has delivered a huge improvement with 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals a contest. Jellison has a pair of double-doubles this year. She had 20 points on 10 of 16 from the free throw line versus Hodgeman County.
Tra Barrientes tops field at Beloit Invite
Sylvan-Lucas junior Tra Barrientes, who wrestles as part of a co-op with Lincoln, wrestled his way to the 285 pound championship at last weekend's Beloit Invitational against a loaded field.
In the process Barrientes avenged his lone loss on the season and defeated three ranked wrestlers.
After quickly dispatching his first round opponent Barrientes made similar quick work of ranked Colby junior Declan Ryan with a pin in :53 seconds in the quarterfinals.
In the semi-finals Barrientes delivered then 321A's top-ranked 285 pounder Creighton Johnson his first loss of the season by a score of 3-1 and in the finals he edged then 321A second ranked Eyann Zimmerman of Republic County 8-5 to win the tournament.
Barrientes suffered his only loss of the season to Johnson earlier in the year and is now the top-ranked 285 pounder in 321A in what appears to be a balance field.
If Barrientes can make his way to state and wrestle to a championship against what should be an outstanding tournament field he'll join former Sylvan-Lucas 285 pounder Fritz Berger, who won the title in 2014, as the school's only individual state wrestling champions.
Top-ranked Carroll stays unbeaten at MIT
Led by Tournament MVP Alex Littlejohn, the Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles improved to 12-0 over the weekend and won the 56th Annual McPherson Invitational. Bishop Carroll defeated Lawrence Free State in the championship, 44-39, as Littlejohn recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Outside of the third quarter in which Free State scored 17 points, the Golden Eagles were dominant defensively in the finals. Free State shot 13 of 38 from the field (34 percent) and went the final 4:14 of the game without recording a field goal.
Enrique Lankford, who also made the All-Tournament Team along with teammate Tanner Mans, led Carroll with 15 points. DK Middleton and Olin Yoder made the All-Tournament Team for Free State. Zero Firebirds reached double digit points in the championship game, but Middleton led the way with a game-high 30 minutes and 27 seconds of playing time.
Carroll defeated Blue Valley in the semifinals, 75-46, after beating Wichita North in the opening round, 70-43.
Host McPherson rebounded from an opening loss to Blue Valley with back-to-back wins over North and Junction City to take fifth. McPherson’s Cody Stufflebean was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Derby defeated Blue Valley, 70-61, for third. North picked up its first win of the season over Topeka Seaman in the seventh-place game, 64-60.
Berean goes unchallenged at Burrton Invite
BURRTON — Berean Academy entered the Burrton Invitational with a 10-0 record, and left 13-0 with three straight wins by double digits. The Warriors capped off a dominant weekend by defeating Little River in the championship, 68-43.
Berean breezed past Burrton in the first round with a 46-point win, then knocked off a tough Inman team in the semifinals, 41-30. In Saturday’s championship, Chase Wiebe led the way with 21 points while Zac Koontz and Zach Duggar each scored 10.
After a close first quarter, Berean outscored Little River 23-7 in the second quarter and never looked back, despite Little River’s Jayden Garrison scoring 15 of his game-high 28 points in the second half.
In the third-place game, Inman defeated 10th-ranked Goessel, 57-38. Central Christian defeated Reno County rival Fairifeld 66-36 for fifth, and Pretty Prairie picked up a 58-41 win over host Burrton for seventh.
Coaches, athletes, fans and parents, are you aware of an interesting story about your favorite high school team? Email us details for future releases of the Subway Sports Spotlight, and head to Subway for pre- or post-game meals, catering or Footlong Faves starting at $4.99. Order online at Subway.com.