By RICK PETERSON
Entering Friday and Saturday's Class 5A state boys tennis tournament at Arkansas City, Topeka West has already swept city, United Kansas Conference and regional team championships and is considered one of the top contenders for the state title after finishing second a year ago.
And that may not even be the Chargers' most impressive accomplishment.
Kurt Davids' team of seniors Ian Cusick, Miles Cusick and Carter Cool and juniors James Maag, Caden McGee and Caleb Weybrew not only go into state with a combined 119-34 record on the season but all six have also earned the rare distinction of earning membership in the prestigious National Honor Society.
"I'm really impressed with my guys,'' Ian Cusick said.. "Sometimes they may act kind of dumb around me, but I'm really impressed that everybody was able to be in (NHS) at the same time.''
Miles Cusick agreed with his twin brother.
"We were talking about it at practice the other day and we're interested to see if you could find another team in the state of Kansas that has all six of their varsity in the National Honor Society, so it's definitely a cool thing that we all managed to do,'' said Miles, who teamed with Ian to win the Class 5A state doubles title in 2022.
While the Chargers' recent success on the tennis court has been well-documented, their academic success shows that the classroom is just as important to the team.
Cool, who will attend the University of Kansas next school year, is the valedictorian of the Topeka West graduating class of 2023 while the Cusicks rank in the top 10 and Maag, McGee and Weybrew are among the top students in the junior class.
"Actually, I take (academics) more serious than I do tennis,'' said Cool, a two-time city champ in No. 1 singles. "I'd say tennis comes second to my studies, but obviously I take that very serious.''
"I think I probably take my grades more serious than I do tennis to some extent,'' said Ian Cusick, who will attend KU. "They always say you're a student before an athlete and you have to make the grades if you want to play, so grades are pretty important to me.''
Miles Cusick said academic success is also important to his family.
"I think it's aways been emphasized in the Cusick household that we are student-athletes and even though we're very dedicated to tennis, we're also very dedicated to grades,'' said Miles, who will attend Kansas State.
By Todd Fertig
The Cair Paravel Latin girls soccer team’s three seniors remember when seventh-graders were needed to field a full team. They recall competing for championships in leagues that received little to no media recognition.
They also remember advancing to KSHSAA’s Class 4-1A state Final Four last spring, the smallest school in the state with a soccer team reaching the biggest stage.
With a 3-0 weather-shortened win over Heritage Christian Academy at the Sunflower Soccer Association on Wednesday, CPLS assured itself of a top-two position in the 4-1A East Region and sewed up a bye in the first round of the regional playoffs that kick off next week.
To the seniors who remember where the program came from, that’s further confirmation that they belong.
“It’s so nice to be able to play (in KSHSAA) these past couple of years,” said Sage Schwartz. “I feel like it really showcases our school’s skill because we’re so small we don’t usually get recognized.”
“The amazing part is that, even before we got to KSHSAA, we worked just as hard and really the style of our play hasn’t really changed,” Audrey Smith said. “We just had more opportunities to show people what we could do.”
By RICK PETERSON
AUDREY APPUHN, Washburn Rural
Appuhn, a freshman swimming standout, was a part of four victories in her first Topeka City Championship Friday at the Capitol Federal Natatorium, helping lead Washburn Rural to its 20th straight city team championship. Appuhn won the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 57.72 seconds and the 500 free in 5:11.08 and also swam on the Junior Blues' winning 200 medley relay (1:54.84) and 400 free relay (3:40.49).
ALA'JAH BROOKS, Topeka West
A senior track and field standout, Brooks won three individual titles in Friday's Joe Schrag City Championship at Hummer Sports Park. Brooks won the long jump with a best of 16 feet, 7.50 inches, won the 400-meter dash in 57.26 seconds and won the 200 in 25.65 seconds. Brooks was the only athlete to win three individual events in the city meet.
MASON CASEBEER, Washburn Rural
A senior tennis standout, Casebeer captured a pair of singles championships last week, including earning his third Class 6A state tournament berth Friday at Wichita. Casebeer opened his week with a Centennial League title, earning a 6-0, 6-1 win over Manhattan's Advith Nataraja in the final. Casebeer followed up his league title with a regional championship Friday at Riverside Tennis Center, taking a 6-1, 6-1 win over Wichita East sophomore Bo Lu to help Rural win the regional team title by a 19-15 margin over Manhattan.
By ISAAC DEER
Cair Paravel Latin's girls soccer team won its 11th straight match with a convincing 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Maranatha Christian Academy on Monday evening at the Sunflower Soccer Complex.
Cair Paravel's last and only loss was a 3-2 overtime loss to Class 5A Seaman back on March 28th, but the Lions have dominated every school since the one-goal loss in the third game of the 2023 campaign.
The Lions have outscored the opposition 85-8 this season and are seeded No. 1 in the 4-1A east side of the regional standings after seven weeks.
Cair Paravel coach Doug Woolery believes that the Lions are playing their best soccer as CPLS approaches the end of the regular season.
"Every coach, no matter where at the end of the season, wants their team to get better and better. I feel like the girls here have done that," Woolery said. "It seems like the combination of where everybody's playing right now is great. After the Seaman game, I said I didn't have the pieces in the right place. I feel like I have that now. It's just a matter of the girls continuing to gel with each other."
Cair Paravel (12-1-1) ran the pace of play against Maranatha on Monday. Not many of the passes from the Lions were disrupted, challenged or intercepted. Instead, Cair Paravel consistently made clean passes, opening the contest early.
By Rick Peterson
Freshman tennis player Drew Fay made Cair Paravel Latin school history Wednesday at Rock Chalk Park, earning the school's first Class 3A-1A state tournament berth.
Fay posted a 3-1 record in Wednesday's Class 3A-1A regional to post a fifth-place singles finish for Cair Paravel, which is fielding a boys tennis program for the first time.
Fay beat Bishop Seabury's Gabe Rinnert in the fifth-place match, with the top six in both singles and doubles advancing to the 3A-1A state meet May 12-13 at the Riverside Tennis Complex in Wichita.
Joey Thoennes also represented Cair Paravel in singles at the regional meet while Seth Arnold and Oliver Ellis competed in doubles.
Higgs' four goals power Rural soccer to 8-0 win over Emporia
Washburn Rural sophomore Destiny Higgs scored four goals as the Junior Blues clinched at least a share of the Centennial League title with an 8-0 home win over Emporia Tuesday night.
Rural can clinch the title outright with a win over Topeka High next Monday at Hummer Sports Park.
In addition to Higgs' four goals, the 9-4-0 Junior Blues got two goals from senior Addi Broxterman and a goal apiece from sophomore Kate Hinck and senior Bri Jones.
Senior Mackinly Rohn was credited with a pair of assists while Hinck, junior Savannah Tuffley, senior Maya Hoge and junior Hayley Legg also had assists.
Senior Hailey Beck and junior Mackenzie Flood combined for the shutout in goal.
Rural will travel to Wichita Northwest for a non-league game Thursday night.
Seaman bowling standout Price signs with Peru State
Seaman senior bowler Katie Price, the Class 5A-1A state runnerup in the 2023 state tournament, signed a letter of intent with Peru State College on Wednesday at Seaman.
Price helped the Vikings win the 5A-1A state team championship in 2022 and led Seaman to a third-place finish in '23.
Price will join former teammate Makenzie Millard and former Washburn Rural standout Kaitlyn Doyal at Peru State.
By RICK PETERSON
TopSports.News, in partnership with the University of Kansas Health System St Francis Campus, A-1 Lock and Key and Washburn University, will host the 18th annual Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards/Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 28, 2023 at Washburn's Memorial Union.
For the third straight year TopSports.news will serve as host for the Sports Awards/Hall of Fame banquet, a longstanding tradition for the Topeka and Shawnee County sports community.
The ceremony will highlight Shawnee County high school senior student-athletes’ achievements throughout the 2022-2023 school year along with the induction of the 2023 Topeka Shawnee County Hall of Fame Class.
Schools have been asked to submit nominees with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average for both female and male candidates for the fall, winter and spring seasons as well as nominees for most inspirational athlete. Over-all outstanding male and female athletes for 2022-2023 will also be named.
Also recognized will be an outstanding female and male athlete from Washburn University.
The four-member 2023 Hall of Fame class and the '23 Washburn University Athletes of the Year will be announced on TopSports.news on May 1.
The high school nominees for the 10 Shawnee County high schools will be announced in June after the conclusion of the spring sports season.
By RICK PETERSON
ALESECIO BATSON, Topeka West
Batson, a sophomore track and field standout, posted a victory in the boys triple jump in last Friday's Free State Barrier Breaker Invitational at Lawrence, jumping a winning distance of 46 feet, 8.25 inches for the Chargers.
EMMERSON COPE, Washburn Rural
A senior softball standout, Cope piicked up the pitching victory and also had a home run and a double in Washburn Rural's 14-4 first-game victory over Seaman last Friday. The Nebraska signee also helped the 12-2 Junior Blues complete the sweep with a 10-0 shutout in the second game.
ZAHRA FRIESS, Cair Paravel Latin
A sophomore, Friess scored four goals and was also credited with four assists in the Lions' 10-0 win over Kaw Valley Conference foe Kansas City Christian last Monday. Cair Paravel added a 10-0 league win over Kansas City-Bishop Ward on Thursday, improving to 9-1-1 with its eighth straight victory.
By ISAAC DEER
Cair Paravel Latin’s soccer team knew it had its work cut out for it in facing Topeka High, but the Lions were able to ride their first-half offensive attack and backline success to a 5-2 victory at Sunflower Soccer Complex on Thursday.
After a perfect weekend at the Titan Classic in Wichita, where the Lions won the Red Bracket championshi and a 10-0 win on Monday against Bishop Ward, their win streak was extended to four matches with the victory against Topeka High.
In its latest win streak, Cair Paravel has shown glimpses of last year’s team that made a run to the Class 4A-1A state tournament.
“I was happy with how we performed against (Topeka High),” Cair Paravel coach Doug Woolery said. “I feel like we are getting better every single game because they’re doing things better that need to get done. Today, I thought there were more of those moments where the small ball developed into making scoring opportunities. We didn’t always capitalize on those moments, but I felt like we put ourselves in a position where more of those scoring opportunities were prevalent.
“Topeka High is always a tough game for us. Derek (Snook) does a great job with his girls. We knew it was going to be a physical, tough game. A win is good, but a win against a tough team like Topeka High is even sweeter.”
By ISAAC DEER
Seaman’s girls soccer team is off to an undefeated 3-0-0 start, with two of its early regular-season wins coming from teams that were in state tournaments a year ago.
In Seaman’s home opener last Tuesday, the Lady Vikings knocked off Class 6A Manhattan. 3-1. Manhattan finished fourth in the state last year. Then on Thursday, Seaman defeated former Centennial League foe Emporia, 6-0.
Seaman started the second week of the season on the right foot Tuesday with a 3-2 city defeat over Cair Paravel Latin.
The Lions return a nearly identical team from last season after their fourth-place finish in the 4A-1A state tournament.
It hasn’t been the most leisurely start to the season with Seaman’s high-quality opponents, but the Vikings are happy with how they have found a way to handle the challenges.
“It’s been a great start,” Seaman coach Tim Nussbaum said. “We just want to keep getting better every day, and we want to keep this thing going.”
By ISAAC DEER
Before Friday the last time the Hayden and Cair Paravel Latin girls soccer teams had met was for a trip to the Class 4A-1A semifinals last spring.
Cair Paravel ended the Wildcats season a year ago after a strenuous and physical 2-1 winning effort in the 4A-1A state quarterfinal.
Hayden and Cair Paravel hooked up again Friday afternoon and slugged it out through two overtime before ending up in a 2-2 deadlock.
"It's early in the season, and we've improved since our last game," Cair Paravel coach Doug Woolery said. "We are still collecting our lineup and putting all of our moving parts together. We have new players that are settling into the system, maybe used to playing differently with their club teams. I'm not unhappy with the way that we are playing. It's Hayden, so I anticipated this would be a tough game."
Friday's non-league contest was a physical match between the two programs. No team had a clear, runaway advantage but both schools that could return to the 4A-1A hunt again this year knew precisely what Friday would bring.
"I couldn't wait to play (Cair Paravel) because we lost to them in the (quarterfinal)," Hayden coach Klause Kreutzer said. "They're a good team, and I'd rather play a good team. I have to give them credit; they worked hard.
"They've got a lot of young players, and so do we. I'm satisfied with our effort. The execution wasn't what I like it to be, but they're a good team, and a tie isn't bad at all."
By RICK PETERSON
Washburn Rural senior standout Brooklyn DeLeye was tapped as the TopSports.news 2023 All-Shawnee County girls basketball player of the year after helping lead the Junior Blues to a second straight appearance in the Class 6A state title game.
A three-time All-Shawnee County first-team pick, the 6-foot-2 DeLeye helped the Centennial League champions post an 18-6 record and come within an eyelash of winning a second straight 6A state championship, with the Junior Blues dropping a 35-34 heartbreaker to Blue Valley North in the title game.
DeLeye is joined on the all-county Top 10 by 6-foot senior teammate Chloe Carlgren while Washburn Rural coach Kevin Bordewick, who has led the Junior Blues to a pair of state titles and a runner-up finish since 2019, was named the county coach of the year.
DeLeye averaged 16 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals, shot 59.7 percent from 2-point range and 38.5 percent on 3-point attempts as a senior while Carlgren averaged 9.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, shot 35 percent from 3-point range and was the Junior Blues' defensive stopper.
Like DeLeye. Topeka High senior star Kiki Smith earned TSN All-Shawnee County Top 10 honors for the third straight season after leading the Trojans to a 16-6 record this past season.
Smith, a 5-8 senior, helped the Trojans reach the Class 6A state tournament her first three high schools seasons, including a state runnerup finish in 2021.
As a senior Smith averaged a city-high 20.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.1 steals while connecting on 50 3-pointers.
Seaman, which posted a 21-2 record and won the United Kansas Conference title, is represented on the first team by 5-10 sophomore Anna Becker and 5-9 freshman Maddie Gragg, who was also named the Shawnee County newcomer of the year. Becker is a Top 10 repeat pick and was named the United Kansas Conference player of the year.
Becker averaged 12 points, 3.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals this past season while Gragg averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 60.2 percent from the field on 2-point attempts and 75 percent from the free throw line.
Silver Lake, which went 23-3 on the season en route to a fourth-place finish in the 3A state tournament, put sophomores McKinley Kruger (5-7) and Makenzie McDaniel (6-1) on the All-Shawnee County first team for the second straight season.
Shawnee Heights senior Emari Doby (5-9) and Rossville junior Kinsey Perine (5-8) move up to the Top 10 this season after earning Second 10 honors last season while Highland Park sophomore Amelia Ramsey (6-0) earned first-team recognition this season after receiving honorable mention a year ago.
Doby averaged 12.5 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior while Perine averaged 9.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 5.8 steals and Ramsey averaged 19.8 points and 15.8 rebounds while shooting 65.2 percent from two-point range.
ALL-SHAWNEE COUNTY GIRLS BASKETBALL
By RICK PETERSON
Highland Park senior Bo Aldridge headlines the 2023 TopSports.news' All-Shawnee County boys basketball team after helping lead the Scots to a 24-1 record and a third-place finish in the Class 5A state tournament.
Aldridge was tapped as the Shawnee County player of the year after leading Highland Park to a second straight state tournament berth while averaging 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Scots, whose only loss was a heartbreaking one-point semifinal decision to eventual state champion Andover, also put seniors Tre Richardson and Jahmir Kingcannon on the TSN Shawnee County Top 10.
Richardson averaged 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Scots while Kingcannon averaged 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots per game.
Highland Park's Mike Williams was named the county coach of the year after the Scots posted a county-high victory total by nine wins.
The Highland Park trio of Aldridge, Richardson and Kingcannon are part of an outstanding group of county seniors that earned nine of 10 spots on the TSN All-Shawnee County Top 10, with Aldridge, Washburn Rural's Jack Bachelor, Seaman's Kaeden Bonner and Hayden's Joe Otting all first-team repeaters.
Bachelor was named the Centennial League player of the year after averaging 17.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists while hitting 32 3-pointers and shooting 82 percent from the free throw line for the 15-6 Junior Blues, who shared the league title.
Bonner, who helped Seaman win its first-ever boys 5A state title as a junior, fought through an injury plagued senior season but still averaged 15.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while hitting 24 3-pointers and shooting 81 percent from the free throw line for the 13-8 Vikings.
Otting, a Notre Dame football signee, earned first-team all-county honors in both football and basketball for the second straight season while putting together a string of double-double performances for the 11-11 Wildcats.
Shawnee Heights junior Brennon Dodge, the lone underclassmen on the all-county Top 10, and Seaman senior Aron Davis both moved up to the Top 10 after being Second 10 picks a year ago.
Dodge was the floor leader and a top 3-point threat for a Shawnee Heights team that posted a 15-7 record this past season while Davis averaged 16.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists for Seaman.
Topeka West seniors Xavier Alexander and Malachi Berg also garnered Top 10 spots after helping the Chargers post a 14-8 record this past season.
Alexander, a first-team All-United Kansas Confererence pick, averaged 15.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists with 53 3-pointers while Berg averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals..
Rossville freshman Jack Donovan and Seaman freshman KaeVon Bonner were named Shawnee County co-newcomers of the year.
Donovan averaged 10.4 points and connected on 49 3-pointers for the Bulldawgs while Bonner averaged 8.4 points and 2.3 rebounds while hitting 32 3-pointers.
ALL-SHAWNEE COUNTY BOYS BASKETBALL
By RICK PETERSON
HAILEY BECK, Washburn Rural
Beck, a senior goalkeeper, helped 17-3-1 Washburn Rural win the Centennial League championship and finish second in the Class 6A state tournament last season, earning All-Centennial League second-team recognition and All-City honorable mention. Beck has signed a letter of intent with Washburn University. Beck was also a multi-time state qualifier in tennis.
LAILAH BENZ, Shawnee Heights
A sophomore midfielder, Benz earned first-team All-City honors as a freshman for the 13-5-0 T-Birds and was also a first-team All-United Kansas Conference selection. Benz earned All-Class 5A honorable mention from the Kansas High School Soccer Coaches Association last season.
ZAHRA FRIESS, Cair Paravel Latin
As a freshman, Friess helped lead Cair Paravel to a fourth-place finish in the Class 4A-1A state tournament last spring, with the Lions posting a 15-5-0 record. Friess earned All-4A-1A first-team honors from the Kansas High School Soccer Coaches Association in 2022 and was a first-team All-City and All-Kaw Valley Conference pick.
KATE HINCK, Washburn Rural
Hinck was an immediate contributor for Washburn Rural last spring as a freshman, earning first-team All-City and All-Centennial League recognition at forward. Hinck helped the Junior Blues post a 17-3 record on the way to the Centennial League championship and a runnerup finish in the Class 6A state tournament. Hinck was a starter for Rural's basketball team that finished second in 6A last week.
KATHERINE KEYS, Cair Paravel Latin
A junior forward, Keys helped 15-5-0 Cair Paravel advance to the Class 4A-1A final four last season en route to a fourth-place state finish. Keys earned a first-team spot on the All-City team for the second straight season and was also a first-team All-Kaw Valley Conference selection.
By RICK PETERSON
Hayden's boys basketball team was ice cold in the first quarter of Tuesday's Class 4A sub-state semifinal at Parsons, but the Wildcats warmed up quickly on the way to a 62-41 victory.
With the win No. 9 seed Hayden advanced to a 7 p.m. sub-state final on Friday at top seed Atchison, an 81-45 winner over Coffeyville on Tuesday.
Parsons led 8-5 at the end of the opening quarter but Hayden hit the host Vikings with a 28-12 second quarter and cruised the rest of the way.
Junior Cooper Colboch hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter to power Hayden (11-10) to a 33-20 halftime advantage while Dominic Ridley also hit two 3s in the quarter.
Hayden boosted its lead to 49-30 by the end of the third quarter and held a 13-11 advantage over the final eight minutes.
Senior Jake Muller led Hayden with 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Colboch added 14.
Hayden will be looking to get back to the 4A state tournament after finishing fourth a year ago.
SILVER LAKE BOYS 37, MAUR HILL-MT. ACADEMY 24 --No. 6 seed Silver Lake rode a stifling defensive effort to Tuesday's 37-24 win at No. 3 seed Maur Hill in a Class 3A sub-state quarterfinal.
The Eagles, who improved to 8-13, advanced to a 7:30 p.m. sub-state semifinal Friday at tournament host Perry-Lecompton (17-4).
By RICK PETERSON
Parirings have been released for this week's sub-state high school basketball tournaments, with 11 Shawnee County teams earning home court advantage for at least the first round of sub-state.
Both Highland Park teams, Seaman's girls, Topeka High's girls and Washburn Rural's boys could all stay at home through both rounds of sub-state competition.
Silver Lake and Rossville will both compete in the Class 3A Perry-Lecompton sub-state while both Cair Paravel Latin teams will compete in the 2A St. Marys sub-state
Here's a look at sub-state tournaments involving Shawnee County teams:
CLASS 6A GIRLS
West sub-state No. 4 -- Topeka High, which will be shooting for a fifth straight state tournment berth, is in the same sub-state with defending Class 6A champion Washburn Rural.
No. 4 West seed Topeka High will open postseason at 6 p.m. Wednesday at High, with the 15-5 Trojans hosting Garden City (6-14) in a semifinal.
No. 5 seed Rural (14-5) will host Centennial League rival Manhattan (7-13) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The winners of those two semifinals will advance to a Saturday championship game.
CLASS 6A BOYS
West sub-state No. 1 -- Topeka High, the No. 16 seed at 3-17, will go on the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. sub-state semifinal against No. 1 Garden City (19-1).
The winner of that game will advance to a Friday final to meet the winner of the semifinal between No. 8 Junction City (11-9) and No. 9 Free State (11-9).
West sub-state No. 4 -- Washburn Rural is the No. 4 seed in the west at 14-5 and will open its postseason bid at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against No. 13 Campus (7-13).
The winner of that semifinal will advance to a Friday sub-state championship game to take on the winner of the semifinal between No. 5 Derby (14-6) and No. 12 Wichita West (8-12).
CLASS 5A GIRLS
East sub-state No. 1 -- Seaman is the No. 1 seed in the east at 19-1 and will be at home for a 7 p.m. Tuesday semifinal to face No. 16 Kansas City-Schlagle (1-15).
The winner of that game will advance to a Friday final to face the winner of the semifinal between No. 8 seed KC-Sumner (14-6) and No. 9 Piper (14-6).
East sub-state No. 3 -- Highland Park (17-3) is the No. 3 east seed and is in the same 5A sub-state bracket with No. 6 seed Shawnee Heights (14-6).
HIghland Park will face No. 14 seed Leavenworth (4-16) in a 7 p.m. semifinal on Tuesday at Hi Park while Shawnee Heights will host No. 11 De Soto (13-7) in a 7 p.m. Tuesday contest.
The two semifinal winners will move on to a Friday championship game.
West sub-state No. 2 -- Topeka West is the No. 15 seed at 6-14 and will travel to No. 2 seed Andover (18-2) for a 6 p.m. Tuesday semifinal. Andover is coached by former Topeka High coach Hannah Alexander.
The winner will advance to Friday's sub-state final to face the winner of the semifinal between No. 7 Goddard Eisenhower (14-6) and No. 10 Salina Central (10-10).
CLASS 5A BOYS
By ISAAC DEER
ROSSVILLE –The Rossville boys basketball team closed out its 2022-2023 regular season with a 62-45 Mid-East League loss against Rock Creek Thursday, but that game doesn’t mean much to the Bulldawgs in their eye toward a promising future.
Although Rossville finished its regular season 7-13, the culture has changed surrounding the boys' basketball program.
In the previous three years, Rossville had won eight games. This year alone, they neared that total.
"Let's just be honest, it's a blessing," Rossville coach Brandon McDonnell said. "We got seven wins. We've gotten more wins this year than we had the past two or three years. So it's a blessing. The only way this year happened the way it did is for the boys to go out there and perform and put in the work. I can coach them up all day, but I'm not out there playing; the boys are.
"For them to go out there, exert that energy, and play hard is a blessing. That's that light at the end of the tunnel; you see it. I got most of these boys for the next two or three years, which is beautiful. We've had rocky parts this year and speed bumps, but we get over them. We get over them together. What more can I ask?"
McDonnell knew that getting buy-in from his kids wouldn't be an issue. So when the first-year coach took the job at Rossville, he had a sole mission: To put a winning product on the court and develop kids while helping them reach their fullest potential.
Seven wins might not seem like much, but it's a step in the right direction for a successful boys' basketball program at Rossville.
"I don't go home mad; I don't go home frustrated because I know the boys are working hard," McDonnell said. "They don't want to come out here and lose games. They work their tails off. You see the beauty and glimpses of what they are doing. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are just young. Having a good offseason will be crucial, but I'm not worried about that now."
McDonnell admits that he feels empathy for his senior class that won't be able to experience the ride with this young group after this season.
By RICK PETERSON
After dropping two previous games to Rock Creek by a total of 30 points, Silver Lake's boys basketball team made a dramatic turnaround Friday night, taking a 51-40 home Mid-East League decision over the Mustangs.
Friday's win was the second straight double-digit win for the Eagles, who improved to 6-12 overall and 5-4 in the league.
Silver Lake trailed 12-5 at the end of the opening quarter, but outscored the Mustangs 28-15 over the middle two quarters to put itself in position for the win before outscoring Rock Creek 18-13 over the final eight minutes.
Senior Troy Heiman led Silver Lake with 12 points while freshman Dayne Johnson added 10 points, junior Elijah Lopez nine points and junior Spencer Johnson eight.
MANHATTAN BOYS 78, WASHBURN RURAL 70 --Manhattan handed Washburn Rural its second Centennial League loss of the season Friday night, dropping the Junior Blues into a share for the league lead with Emporia.
Manhattan (11-8, 5-4) rode a 26-13 first quarter to a big lead and the Indians led 38-28 at the half 59-45 at the start of the fourth quarter before the Junior Blues (14-5, 7-2) made up ground late.
Senior Jack Bachelor led Washburn Rural with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and also had 10 assists.
'By RICK PETERSON
HAYDEN (11-6, 3-5) at TOPEKA HIGH (13-5, 4-4)
Hayden is 2-0 on the week, posting a 55-16 non-league win over Tonganoxie Monday and taking a 48-21 home Centennial League win over Junction City Tuesday night. Sophomore Norma Greco led Hayden with 14 points against Junction City while junior Lauren Sandstrom added 11 points and sophomore Brylee Meier 10. Topeka High is coming off back-to-back league losses to Emporia and league-leading Washburn Rural, with the Trojans dropping a 55-42 decision at Rural Tuesday night. Freshman Keimara Marshall scored 11 points to lead the Trojans against the Junior Blues. Topeka High took a 60-25 win over Hayden earlier in the season.
BASEHOR-LINWOOD (12-5, 10-3) at SEAMAN (16-1, 12-1)
Top-ranked (Class 5A) Seaman will have an opportunity Friday night to avenge its only loss of the season, a 74-71 overtime defeat at Basehor-Linwood earlier in the year. The Vikings have won 10 straight games since that loss to the Bobcats. Seaman is coming off a 61-22 win over Leavenworth on Tuesday while Basehor-Linwood beat KC-Turner, 58-17.
KC-SUMNER (13-5, 7-3) at HIGHLAND PARK (13-3, 8-0)
Highland Park took a 65-51 home Meadowlark Conference win over Atchison on Tuesday while Sumner is coming off a 50-46 loss to KC-Wyandotte. Highland Park beat Sumner 64-20 earlier in the season.
By RICK PETERSON
HAYDEN (9-8, 3-5) at TOPEKA HIGH (3-15, 0-8)
Hayden will be looking for its third win of the week affter beating non-league foe Tonganoxie on Monday and taking a 56-45 home Centennial League win over Junction City Tuesday night. Senior Joe Otting led the Wildcats with 19 points and 10 rebounds against Junction City while senior Jake Muller added 13 points. Topeka High is coming off a 61-35 league loss to Washburn Rural, with senior Mason Gomez scoring 12 points to lead the Trojans. Hayden will be playing Topeka High for the third time this season, with the Wildcats taking 67-57 and 64-47 wins in the earlier two games.
BASEHOR-LINWOOD (6-11, 5-8) at SEAMAN (10-7, 7-6)
Seaman has won three straight games after a 56-50 United Kansas Conference decision over Leavenworth on Tuesday. Senior Aron Davis led the Vikings with 25 points against Leavenworth, including 21 points in the second half. Seaman took a 48-39 UKC win over Basehor-Linwood in the first meeting between the Vikings and the Bobcats.
KC-SUMNER (10-8, 7-4) at HIGHLAND PARK (16-0, 8-0)
By RICK PETERSON
After sweeping Tonganoxie on the road Monday, Hayden's girls and boys basketball teams posted their second wins in as many nights on Tuesday, taking a home Centennial League sweep over Junction City.
Hayden's girls, tied for the No. 10 spot in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 4A rankings, rolled to a 48-21 win over the Blue Jays while Hayden's boys posted a 56-45 win over Junction City.
Hayden's girls, who improved to 11-6 overall and 3-5 in the Centennial League, got 14 points from sophomore Norma Greco while junior Lauren Sandstrom added 11 points and sophomore Brylee Meier 10.
The Hayden boys, now 9-8 overall and 3-5 in the league, got a double-double from senior Joe Otting, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Jake Muller added 13 points.
Hayden built a 29-21 lead at the half before pulling away down the stretch.
SEAMAN GIRLS 61, LEAVENWORTH 22 --Seaman, the top-ranked team in Class 5A for the past four weeks, rolled to its 16th win in 17 starts on the season, taking a 61-22 United Kansas Conference road victory at Leavenworth.
Page 4 of 16