NOTE: Statistics for city Centennial League and United Kansas Conference boys basketball teams were compiled by Seaman girls coach Matt Tinsley, with assistance from Seaman student Jackson Stuewe. TopSports.news will also run stats for Shawnee County teams Cair Paravel Latin, Rossville and Silver Lake as they are made available.
Name, school Gms. Pts. Avg
Brooks, Topeka West 5 133 26.6
Dodge, Shawnee Heights 4 89 22.3
Roberts, Highland Park 5 110 22.0
Hyman, Seaman 5 93 18.6
Aldridge, Highland Park 5 88 17.6
Henry, Seaman 5 85 17.0
Bonner, Seaman 5 74 14.8
Alexander, Topeka West 5 64 12.8
Kidd, Washburn Rural 4 48 12.0
Pewe, Shawnee Heights 4 48 12.0
Austin, Topeka West 5 56 11.2
Bachelor, Washburn Rural 4 43 10.8
Flenoy, Topeka High 6 65 10.8
Kingcannon, HiPark 5 52 10.4
Duffey, Hayden -- -- 10.2
Name, school Gms. Total Avg.
Aldridge, Highland Park 5 50 10.0
Olson, Shawnee Heights 4 33 8.3
Canady, Topeka High 5 36 7.2
Berg, Topeka West 5 31 6.2
Heim, Washburn Rural 3 17 5.7
Brooks, Topeka West 5 28 5.6
Morales, Topeka High 6 32 5.3
Bachelor, Washburn Rural 4 19 4.8
By RICK PETERSON
Topeka native and best-selling author Jade Gurss' latest book, "Al Unser Jr.: A Checkered Past,'' which he collaborated on with racing legend Unser, is different than any of his previous five books, dealing not only with Unser's incredible success on the track but his overwhelming challenges off of it.
The Shawnee Heights and Washburn graduate is immensely proud that the Hall of Famer chose him to tell his stories to.
"From the very first time Al Jr. and I sat down to talk about the book, he was very open about wanting to be honest and wanting to tell the full story,'' Gurss said. "I've done books in the past where it's a lot of glory making or hero legends and Al was willing to tell stories where he doesn't look like the hero and he's not always heroic.
"That was very refreshing and I'll say he stuck to that from start to finish.''
"Al Unser Jr.: A Checkered Past,'' published by Octane Press, chronicles Unser's extraordinary success but also his depths of failure, as told to Gurss, with a foreword by legendary racing owner Roger Penske.
A member of one of the most prominent families in the history of auto racing, "Little Al'' was a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner while also winning multiple IndyCar national championships, IROC and 24 Hours of Daytona titles.
In 2007 he was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and in 2009 he became a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
But along with the tales of his racing success, Unser shares deeply personal stories about his struggles with mental health and how drug and alcohol addiction fueled the destruction of his personal life, including a domestic violence arrest and multiple driving under the influence charges.
Visits to a variety of rehab centers, divorce and financial ruin followed, leading to a suicide attempt before Unser began an inspiring turnaround.
Gurss is happy with how the book, released on Oct. 1, turned out.
"I was happy with it because I think it was important to him,'' said Gurss, a member of the Shawnee Heights Hall of Fame. "It was a catharsis to tell these stories and kind of get some of this stuff off his chest that he had kind of been quiet about for years and years. From that aspect I feel like the book has really achieved what he and I had set out to accomplish.''
Just as importantly, Gurss feels like Unser is proud of the finished product.
"I think he's been really pleased,'' said Gurss, a former public directions at Heartland Park Topeka. "We've already had responses from people who said they were going through some of the difficulties that Al went through and that the fact that he had been a survivor really had inspired them.
"I think that was part of his thinking, too, that if he could help just one person going through some of the terrible things he went through with substance abuse and all of that, that it would be a success. I think it's made him feel quite good to hear from people directly that it had inspired them or inspired their son or daughter.''
Gurss said the 59-year-old Unser remains deeply involved in racing as he continues his personal turnaround.
"He's working for a race team that has a program that helps young drivers that either are minorities or that don't necessarily have the funds to go professional racing,'' Gurss said. "I think that's been very helpful to him to be able to give back and to help young drivers to move up the ladder. He seems to really enjoy it and seems to be really doing well with that.''
Gurss, 59, is the co-author of two New York Times Best Selling books -- “Driver #8” and “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles.’’
“Driver #8’’ chronicles Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series and is believed to be the most successful book about auto racing in American publishing history, spending 17 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles,’’ Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip’s autobiography, reached the New York Times Best Seller nonfiction list.
Gurss said "Al Unser Jr.: A Checkered Past,'' has also been well-received.
"We have already sold out the first printing, which is wonderful, and the second printing is out there now in all the stores,'' said Gurss, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. "That's been rewarding to have people react so positively to it.''
By RICK PETERSON
Tuesday was the Darting Basketball Academy's first shoe drive to benefit local youth, but it probably won't be the last.
DBA, in conjunction with the Topeka non-profit group Sole Reason, held its Community Give Back Camp Tuesday at Topeka Collegiate School and by mid-day right at 170 pairs of shoes had been accumulated to be distributed to local kids.
Wednesday's all-day camp included 50 boys and girls participants, ages 5 through 13, with the price of admission a new pair of sneakers.
DBA's Kerry Darting said he hopes to hold more shoe drive/camps in the future.
"This is the first shoe drive that we've done and we're extremely happy with the results,'' Darting said. "We've got close to 200 pairs of shoes and in about 24 hours it was sold out, so we'd love to continue doing it.
"Maybe we could even do it at a bigger location so we could get more kids and get more shoes.''
Sole Reason's goal is to provide every needy child in the local community with a new pair of sneakers.
By RICK PETERSON
AMAYA BUCHANAN, Washburn Rural -- A junior, Buchanan finished 17th last season in the Class 6A state tournament to help Washburn Rural earn the third-place trophy in the team standings. Buchanan was a second-team All-City selection last season and was a member of the Junior Blues' regional championship team and Centennial League runner-up team, placing fifth in the league meet.
KAITLYN DOYAL, Washburn Rural -- A senior, Doyal posted a seventh-place individual finish in the 2021 Class 6A state meet with a 631 series, bowling a high game of 242. A first-team All-City pick as a junior, Doyal helped the Junior Blues post a third-place 6A team finish. Doyal finished third at regionals with a 554 series as Rural won the regional team title and she finished ninth individually in the Centennial League meet as Rural finished second as a team.
KAITLYN EVANS, Seaman -- Evans, a senior, earned a ninth-place medal in the Class 5A-1A state tournament with a 599 series and a 215 high game as Seaman finished fourth as a team. A first-team All-City pick last season, Evans posted a ninth-place individual finish in 5A-1A regional competition with a 543 series for the team-champion Vikings and she placed sixth in the Centennial League tournament with a 526 series as Seaman won the league team championship.
GABBI McCARTHY, Topeka High -- A senior, McCarthy was a second-team All-City selection a year ago. McCarthy capped her junior season with a 15th-place finish for the Trojans in the 2021 Class 6A state meet after qualifying for state as an individual in regional competition.
MAKENZIE MILLARD, Seaman -- Millard posted a city-high fourth-place individual finish in the Class 5A-1A state meet as a junior with a 612 series, including games of 232 and 221. A first-team Al-City pick, Millard moved up a place individually after taking fifth at state as a sophomore. Millard, who helped the Vikings finish fourth as a team at state, was the individual regional champion with a 666 series and third in the Centennial League meet with a 590 series as Seaman won team championships in both tournaments.
KATIE PRICE, Seaman -- The Viking junior won the Centennial League individual championship last season with a 658 series, helping lead Seaman to the team championship. A first-team All-City pick a year ago, Price placed 10th at regionals with a 537 series for the team-champion Vikings and Price posted a 31st-place finish in the Class 5A-1A state tournament with a 496 series as Seaman finished fourth in the team standings.
CHEYENNE TURKIN, Seaman -- A sophomore, Turkin was a second-team All-City selection last season after helping the Vikings post a fourth-place finish in the Class 5A-1A state meet with a 16th-place state finish. Turkin helped Seaman win a regional team championship with a seventh-place individual finish with a 553 series.
MEGAN WOOD, Topeka West -- A sophomore, Wood earned second-team All-City honors a year ago, earning a berth in the Class 5A-1A state meet as an individual with a third-place regional finish. Wood bowled a 587 series in the regional meet before finishing 50th in the state meet. Wood won an individual title in a regular-season triangular with a 596 series and a 263 game.
By RICK PETERSON
ETHAN BURNS, Seaman -- A first-team All-City selection in 2021, Burns finished off his sophomore season with a 13th-place finish in the Class 5A-1A state tournament, bowling a 643 series with games of 214, 213 and 216 to help Seaman win the third-place team trophy. Burns finished third individually in the Centennial League meet with a 660 series for the team-champion Vikings and was seventh at regionals with a 616 series as Seaman won the team championship.
JACK EASUM, Seaman -- Easum, a junior, placed 21st in the Class 5A-1A state tournament with a 615 series and a high game of 242 as the Vikings finished third as a team. A first-team All-City selection, Easum took 14th in 5A-1A regional competition with a 594 series as Seaman won the regional team title and he bowled a 591 series in the Centennial League tournament as the Vikings claimed the league championship. Easum rolled a 299 game in a regular-season quadrangular at Emporia.
ALEC GRANGER, Topeka High -- A senior, Granger earned second-team All-City recognition last season after qualifying for the Class 6A state meet as an individual. Granger posted a top-10 finish in the Centennial League tournament, taking 10th place with a 609 series.
MATT HARTTER, Washburn Rural -- Hartter, a senior, turned in an outstanding performance in the 2021 Class 6A state tournament, finishing sixth individually with a 675 series as Washburn Rural finished fourth in the team standings. Hartter's performance at state followed up a 13th-place finish in 6A regional competition with a 580 series.
JOSH HAMMONS, Washburn Rural -- A junior, Hammons won the boys individual title in a regular-season triangular with a 669 series and he went on to post a seventh-place finish in the Centennial League tournament with a 619 series and posted a 10th-place finish in Class 6A regional competition. Hammons helped Rural finish fourth at state.
WILLIAM SHAFFER, Shawnee Heights -- A junior, Shaffer was a Class 5A-1A state medalist for the T-Birds, finishing in18th place with a 618 series. Shaffer posted a ninth-place finish in the 2021 United Kansas Conference tournament with a 577 series, helping Heights finish second as a team.
AIDAN VanMETRE, Shawnee Heights -- A senior, VanMetre was a 5A-1A regional individual champion with a 681 series as Shawnee Heights finished second as a team. VanMetre posted a fifth-place finish in the United Kansas Conference tournament with a 592 series as the T-Birds finished as the league runner-up. He finished his season with a 55th-place finish in the 5A-1A state tournament. VanMetre was a first-team All-City pick.
ZANDER WHITE, Seaman -- White, a junior, earned second-team All-City recognition as a sophomore. White placed eighth in the state tournament with a 665 series to help lead Seaman to a third-place finish in the Class 5A-1A state tournament. White bowled a 277 games in a regular-season quadrangular at Emporia.