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.
Nickerson’s Moore, Onaga’s Mayginnes ranked in top 25 nationally by USA Wrestling
Nickerson High School’s Nichole Moore and Onaga’s Morgan Mayginnes, both Kansas Pregame Winter Preview covergirls, each received a letter and a t-shirt from USA Wrestling earlier this week recognizing a prestigious place among the country's elite wrestlers. The letters signified that each wrestler finished the 2018-2019 wrestling season ranked in the top 36 of the Future Olympian Rankings nationally in their age group.
Both seniors cracked the top 25 nationally; Mayginnes is ranked 22nd and Moore is ranked 23rd. In the state of Kansas, Moore is ranked first at 116, while Mayginnes is the top-ranked wrestler at 155 in the most recent Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association rankings.
Mayginnes is 9-2 on the season, with five of those wins coming over boys. Moore is 6-2 this season and has a career record of 96-26. Along with wrestling for the girls team, Moore is also the 113 pound varsity wrestler on the boys team.
“I like to push myself against the best, whether it be boys or girls,” Moore said.
Both Moore and Mayginnes will continue their wrestling careers at Baker University next fall.
“I’m looking forward to wrestling at the college level,” Mayginnes said. “I’m also excited about the small class sizes and the low student-to-teacher ratios.”
Moore says she is also excited to start her college career, where she plans on studying to become a lawyer.
“I'm looking forward to getting to train freestyle full time, being able to workout as often as I want, and having full-time access to somewhere to train,” Moore said. “And I'm really excited to have a full girls team for the first time.”
Axtell’s Buessing surpasses 1,000 career points in win over Clifton-Clyde, continues amazing multi-sport career
Led by 26 points from standout senior Quinn Buessing, Axtell handed Clifton-Clyde its first loss of the season on Jan. 3. Buessing surpassed 1,000 career points in the process, as he led his team to a 60-35 win.
It was an exciting week for Buessing, who was selected to the Kansas Shrine Bowl and the 8-Man Division II All-Star Game as well. Buessing will represent the East Team in both the Shrine Bowl and the All-Star Game.
For his football career, Buessing completed 65 percent of his passes for 7,978 yards and 134 touchdowns. This past fall, Buessing led his team to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the 8-Man DII State Championship game.
In addition to basketball and football, Buessing is also a standout in cross country and track. That's right, Buessing is a dual-sport athlete who excels at both cross country and football in the same seasons.
Buessing was sixth at the 1A State Cross Country Meet this past November, while Axtell was second as a team. Buessing finished his cross country career as a three-time state medalist, as he finished 11th as a sophomore and fourth as a junior.
In track, Buessing will aim for a state championship in the 3,200 meter run after finishing second last season. Buessing also runs the 800 meter and 1,600 meter in addition to the 3,200.
Eck family fuels Railer basketball
Ellis junior Grace Eck exudes a calmness and a strong understanding of basketball. Eck gave significant credit to her father, Mark Eck.
He and his brother, Geoff, were on the Fort Hays State University men’s basketball team that finished undefeated and won the Division II National Championship in 1996. Geoff is a member of the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame. Mark, Geoff and their families are well-known members of the Ellis community and have operated a successful construction business.
Grace is the third-oldest of eight siblings and the eldest girl. She started for Ellis as a freshman on an 8-13 squad. Last season, Elle Stein replaced longtime coach Perry Mick, who retired from coaching with the most victories in program annals. Ellis improved to 10-12 behind 19.5 points per game from Eck.
Mark Eck also took over as head coach of the boys’ program last year and led a six-win improvement to 17-6.
“That comes from my dad,” Grace said of her personality. “He has taught me everything. I am not the most athletic person out on that court, so I have really had to learn the fundamentals and footwork and all that stuff to get me that notch above other people, who I am not as quick as.”
This winter, Grace and her freshman sister, Emily, have helped Ellis girls open 5-2 and enjoy a milestone 52-46 road win last Tuesday versus Thomas More Prep-Marian at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. Grace is again one of Kansas’ leading scorers with 18.9 points per game. Emily ranks second for Ellis at 8.3 points a contest.
“It’s great,” Grace said. “I always have someone to go against. Emily, I have a little sister in junior high, that they are always willing to come out and shoot with me, or play in the driveway or whatever that might be, and having my dad, someone who played college ball, he knows what it takes to win, so he’s definitely been a big motivator for me.”
The win ended TMP’s 37-game regular season (non-tournament) winning streak versus Mid-Continent League teams. The last time the Monarchs fell in a conference regular season game was a 55-42 home loss to Hill City on Dec. 11, 2015.
“It’s exciting to see them like an Eck to Eck play,” Stein said. “Because you know their dad and uncle had to do the same thing, and to see them play off each other, I think it takes the pressure off of Grace a little bit.”
Ellis showcased a strong team effort and significantly improved defense. Both Ecks and senior Rylee Werth hit six straight free throws in the final 44 seconds to seal the victory. Grace led with 12 points, while junior Abby North and Emily tallied 11, and Werth delivered nine.
“I thought they handled the pressure pretty well,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “Last year, we got a lot of turnovers against them on their press, but I thought they handled themselves real well, and defensively, they have become better.”
Since the matchup resumed in 2015, Ellis was 0-5 versus TMP, including a 63-38 loss last season. It marked the first time Ellis girls had beaten TMP since at least before ’04. The Monarchs dropped to 3-4.
“It was definitely a team win tonight,” Grace said. “It was great. I am very happy. I can’t remember the last time we beat TMP – especially on their home court – so I was very happy with the win.”
Additionally, the TMP boys defeated Ellis, 55-51, in a thrilling contest that was decided in the final seconds. Ellis boys again feature senior Zachary Eck, Mark’s second-oldest son. The oldest, Joseph, was a former Ellis quarterback and averaged 6.7 points per game as a senior in ’17-18. Noted for his academics, Joseph won two significant FHSU scholarships.
Zachary has tallied at least 15 points per game the last three winters. He and junior Brady Frickey (16.7 points a contest) again pace the Railroaders. Zach is a returning first team all-leaguer, and Frickey was honorable mention last winter. Two cousins, senior Jacob and junior Daniel, the oldest of Geoff's four children, are also on the team. Daniel has enjoyed an excellent season with 10.3 points and 2.6 rebounds. Zachary has cleared 800 career points.
This season, Ellis boys are 5-2, too. In December, Ellis won the Quinter Castle Rock Classic tournament.
“It’s enjoyable,” coach Eck said on Tuesday night. “But at the same time, we lose, the girls win, it will be really good on the girls’ side of the household tonight, but obviously us not winning, it could be better. And then of course Jake and Daniel, they both have worked really hard.”
Mark had given help to Ellis boys in the past, namely to then-coach Butch Hayes with defense on the ’14-15 squad that went 18-6, won 12 in a row and advanced to state. This year, Ellis has risen as high as fifth in 2A and is currently tenth in the KBCA poll.
“It’s a lot of fun,” coach Eck said. “I might enjoy myself just a little bit more if I was sitting in the stands watching. I am not going to lie. If any coach ever tells you that coaching isn’t stressful, they are lying, but at the same time, the girls, I don’t know that I recall them ever beating the TMP girls, so obviously that was kind of one of the things that my daughters were really excited about.”
Defense improves for Ellis girls under Stein; North has big game against TMP
Last year, the Ellis girls opened 3-4 and permitted 49.1 points per game. This season, Ellis has lowered to 40.3 points allowed per contest. Coach Elle Stein played for her mother, Lorie Stein (Flax) at Spearville. Lorie was a former TMP-Marian standout in the ‘80s and coached for many years with the Lancers. In 2010, with Elle a key player, Spearville broke a 20-year state tournament drought.
Elle finished her career at Fort Hays from ’14-16 as a key rotational player, a two-year stretch that yielded a 55-10 record with coach Tony Hobson. She student taught at TMP, and then took over at Ellis. Elle is one of several area coaches who played for Hobson.
Victoria head coach Kristin Werth (Huser) and TMP assistant Emma Stroyan played at Fort Hays. As well, Tiger All-American Kate Bremerman (Lehman) coached Plainville and is now leading Newton, her alma mater.
“Coach Hobson was very blunt, so I liked that, so I am very open and honest with the girls,” Stein said. “If they are messing up, I am going to tell them why. I probably need to lean on a little more of what I learned from my mom, and maybe sugarcoat it just a little bit.
“But they both put in a tremendous amount of effort, so I was trying to model that, and hopefully the girls have picked up on that and feed off of that as well,” she added.
Stein said Ellis “struggled tremendously” with pressure last season. As well, she believes the Railers “have come a long way” with its man look.
“We don’t just have to rely on like a 2-3 or a 1-3-1 defense,” Stein said. “While they are not bad, it’s nice to have man.”
Abby North enjoyed one of the better games in her career with a season-high 11 points and seven rebounds against TMP last Tuesday. Ellis has no players taller than 5-foot-10. TMP has two players of at least 6-foot.
“We are a lot smaller than a lot of other teams,” Grace Eck said. “So we’ve had to figure out how to be really physical, and we’ve had to box out, figure out how to put a body on someone.”
Cook helps Circle improve to 7-0
Junior Kimalee Cook had 21 points in Circle’s win over Buhler Tuesday.
Cook made seven field goals and was 7-9 from the FT line. This follows a 22 point output in a win over El Dorado prior to Christmas break, a game in which she nabbed seven steals. Circle is 7-0.
Cook is averaging 17 points per game this season to go along with two assists and 4.3 steals per contest. The T-birds were scheduled to play McPherson Friday, but weather postponed the contest. The girls' teams will make-up the highly anticipated contest January 24th.
The Thunderbirds graduated standouts Carissa Beck and Alyson Potter from last year’s state qualifying team that went 17-5, but Cook has emerged as a replacement for their lost production and 6-2 senior Mallory Cowman joins forces with Cook to provide a dynamic duo for the T-Birds. Cowman’s 13 points per game this season are second to Cook while her nearly seven rebounds and more than two blocks per outing are tops on the team.
Cook is also one of the state’s top sprinters and after transferring to Circle from Whitewater-Remington prior to her sophomore year she would go on to win the 4A 100 and 200 meter dashes at last May’s State Track Meet.
Anna Carter leads turnaround, close games for Oberlin girls
From 2007-08 through last year, Oberlin girls have not posted a winning season. Coach Brandon Gehring, who took over in ’13-14 after a stint at Logan, has the best marks with a 10-12 record in ’14-15.
Last year, Oberlin reached .500 with an 11-11 record. This winter, the Red Devils have started 4-4 behind a big season from senior Anna Carter, a returning second team all-league player.
Carter has averaged 15 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per contest. Carter ranks second in rebounds and fourth in Kansas in blocks per game among KSHSAA players, according to MaxPreps statistical rankings.
Senior Alyssa Van Vleet, a first team all-conference player last winter, missed three games, though has returned. She has 10.4 points and 2.4 steals a contest. Last year, Carter had 13.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Van Vleet delivered 15.4 points in ’18-19.
Oberlin has played a significant number of very close games. The Red Devils opened with a 48-47 road victory versus Rawlins County. On Dec. 13, the Oberlin lost, 56-54, to Dundy County (Neb.). Four days later, the Red Devils defeated Hill City, 32-30, in double overtime. On Tuesday, Oberlin lost Oakley, 41-40, in overtime. Carter has six double-doubles this year. The Red Devils are at Almena-Northern Valley on Tuesday.
Jackson Schulte leading scorer for TMP, makes key shots against Ellis
Since the start of ’18-19, TMP is 2-1 against Ellis with a cumulative margin of nine points in the contests. Last year, the Monarchs won at Ellis, 54-53. Jackson Schulte had a highlighted game with 16 points, including two late 3s. He eventually earned second team all-conference.
This winter, Schulte, a junior guard, has averaged 20 points a contest, for a Monarch squad that has won six in a row after a season-opening 72-61 loss to Olathe West in the Hays City Shootout. Schulte, seniors Carson Jacobs and Ryan Stoecklein and junior Lucas Lang are all key returners from a team that made a surprising 3A final four run last March.
On Tuesday, Schulte paced TMP with 17 points, including a pair of key second half 3s. With 53 seconds left, Ellis scored for a 51-50 lead. Three seconds later, Schulte had a screen on the right side, went around and canned a mid-range jumper for a 52-51 advantage.
“That’s just what we expect from him,” coach Bill Meagher said. “They get a bucket here, he steps down, one dribble. He has done it 1,000 times, and he puts it right in, doesn’t feel the moment, just hits a big time shot for us.”
The 6-7 Jacobs, a Newman baseball signee, finished with 14 points, including a dunk, and eight rebounds. Stoecklein had 10 points, including an offensive rebound off his own missed three throw.
“TMP is pretty much the best team I’ve seen in our league as far as they are pretty complete,” coach Eck said. “And we knew that their pressure was going to be a pretty big factor, and not just what they do to you defensively, but the way they push the ball down the floor, it’s just a constant strain on your defense.”
After the game, coach Meagher told coach Eck that he wished TMP could play Ellis “every night.”
“One, it’s a fun basketball game,” Meagher said. “Our kids enjoy a competitive game like that. Two, they just play so hard that it makes us elevate. I told our guys in the locker room afterwards that’s the best we’ve run four-game – one of our sets – all season long, and we had to, because they were guarding us with such intensity, that we got better.”
No. 1 Hoxie wins another team title; Johnson stays perfect
Hoxie, the No. 1 ranked team in 3-2-1A, won the J.R. Durham tournament title in Norton on Saturday. The Indians scored 187 points, 24 ahead of runner-up Norton in the 18-team field. Beloit was fourth with 126 points. Currently, Hoxie, Beloit and Norton are the top-three ranked teams in 3-2-1A, respectively, by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.
In the previous three years, Hoxie scored 53.5, 79 and 128 points at the competition and took tenth, ninth and fourth, respectively.
In those years, Hoxie went sixth, third and third at the state meet. From 2010-2019, Hoxie has two team state runner-up finishes, along with three thirds and a fifth with longtime coach Mike Porsch. Hoxie has 10 overall team titles, the last coming in ’02 and ’03.
This season, Hoxie has ranked no lower than third in the KWCA poll, and was first on Dec. 17 and Dec. 30, the two most recent rankings.
At 113 in Norton, freshman Dayton Bell (11-3) won the weight class with three wins by fall. At 126, sophomore Drew Bell (18-1) earned three wins, the first by fall and then 5-2 and 4-0 decisions. Dayton is ranked fourth, Drew second.
At 132, freshman Derek Johnson (21-0) went 3-0 and defeated Norton’s Camdyn Unterseher, 2-0, in the finals. Unterseher is 11-6 and was ranked second in the classification on Dec. 10. Johnson is currently third.
At 138, senior Dylan Weimer (7-1) earned second place to Scott City’s Kaden Wren, who is ranked first in 4A at 15-0. Wren won 5-1. Weimer is ranked first. At 220, Brandon Baker (12-5) earned second place when he lost to Norton’s Judson Wiltfong, the fourth-ranked wrestler in the classification.
Hoxie also received third place from Wayne Shepard (13-9) at 106, and Andrew Bretz (17-3) at 120. Aidan Baalman, ranked second at 152, finished third with his first loss of the season and is 21-1. In the semifinals, Scott City’s Noah Kliesen won. In the third-place match, Baalman defeated Beloit’s Hunter Prochaska by fall in 4:21. Prochaska is 10-2 and ranked fourth.
On the girls’ side, Marissa Porsch went 3-0 for a title in the 123-136 weight class. Porsch is ranked sixth at 136. Ashlyn Kaus finished second at 130-143.
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.