Some sub-state fields loaded, others very weak

By Steve Sell
February 29, 2016

McPherson High’s basketball teams are on both sides of the coin this week when it comes to the yearly argument of sub-state tournament inequity.

The MHS boys are in arguably the strongest Class 4A Division I sub-state in terms of depth. They take a 19-1 record into the Ulysses sub-state and if you throw out the host Tigers the other teams are a combined 50-10. Two state-ranked teams are going to be outsiders next week at Salina.

What rankles many observers is you have a sub-state like the one in Wellington where Mulvane (2-18) and Winfield (1-19) have the two-worst records of the 32 teams and Rose Hill (6-14) is near the bottom. Only 10-10 Wellington is mediocre at best.

What really has everybody up in arms is that the Basehor-Linwood sub-state includes the host Bobcats (18-2) and Miege (17-3), which means at least one of the top three teams is going to be staying home. Then at Towanda-Circle, you have 17-3 Andale and 16-4 Andover Central. How about Ottawa where you have 17-3 Wamego, 15-5 Abilene and 13-7 Ottawa?

On the girls’ side, the 18-2 Bullpups would appear to have a clear path to Salina, provided they take care of business. They play 3-17 Ulysses to open on Thursday, then play either Hays or Buhler, which are 8-12 and 7-13, respectively.

Howling about that can be heard all the way from Basehor-Linwood, where you have 20-0 Miege, 18-2 Piper and 14-6 Sumner. Or from Coffeyville where you have 18-2 Labette County, 16-4 Chanute and 12-8 Independence.

This happens every year, but until KSHSAA can come up with a better plan we’re stuck with it. 

Here’s my picks as to who gets in.

• BOYS •

• At Basehor-Linwood •

Teams — Sumner (11-9), Miege (17-3), Piper (9-10) and Basehor-Linwood (18-2). 

Basehor-Linwood played McPherson High tough in the state finals last year and has much of its firepower back from a team that was 24-0 until losing to the Bullpups. But I’m going with Miege as it has added 6-11 Bol Bol and 6-8 Jonathan Robinson-Earl. Bol is the son of former NBA star Manute Bol and Robinson-Early is the son of former KU player Lester Earl. Last year’s star Semaj Ray isn’t even the best player on his own team.

• At Towanda-Circle •

Teams — Augusta (10-10), Andale (17-3), Andover Central (16-4) and Circle (12-8).

Andale has the best record, but it’s not the explosive team of the last few years. Still state-worthy, but I don’t see it getting past Andover Central.

• At Coffeyville •

Teams — Labette County (6-14), Chanute (12-8), Independence (11-9) and Coffeyville (11-9).

My childhood friend Craig Null of Independence is the guru of Southeast Kansas basketball so I defer to him. He said to pick Coffeyville and who am I to argue with the old wise one?

• At Louisburg •

Teams — Spring Hill (10-10), Fort Scott (11-9), Paola (18-2) and Louisburg (6-14). 

Paola has been strong for the past few years and I think it makes it without much pressure.

• At Ottawa •

Teams — El Dorado (4-16), Wamego (17-3), Abilene (15-5) and Ottawa (13-7). 

Wamego has the best record, but I’m going with Abilene. It has four players who can match up with anybody. Don’t fall asleep on Ottawa at home though.

• At Tonganoxie •

Teams — Atchison (14-6), Tonganoxie (4-16), DeSoto (7-13) and Eudora (16-4).

Eudora should get through by beating Atchison in the finals.

• At Wellington •

Teams — Mulvane (2-18), Rose Hill (6-14), Winfield (1-19) and Wellington (10-10).

I bet the folks at KSHSAA are covering their faces about this one. None of the teams are state-worthy, but Wellington should advance by default.

• At Ulysses •

Teams — McPherson (19-1), Hays (16-4), Buhler (15-5) and Ulysses (6-14). 

Three of these teams should be at Salina, but only one will go. The way the Bullpups are playing defense right now they should get a chance at a 3-peat.


• At Basehor-Linwood •

Teams — Sumner (14-6), Piper (18-2), Miege (20-0) and Basehor-Linwood (8-12).

Despite a great field it’s all Miege. You can put 25-0 in the book. The only question is who will the Stags face in the state finals.

• At Towanda-Circle •

Teams — Andale (8-12), Andover Central (14-6), Augusta (8-12) and Circle (13-7).

Again I don’t see much suspense as it should be Andover Central easily over Circle in the finals.

• At Coffeyville •

Teams — Independence (12-8), Chanute (16-4), Labette County (18-2) and Coffeyville (6-13).

Again I tapped my old friend Craig Null and he assures me it’s Labette’s title to lose.

• At Louisburg •

Teams — Fort Scott (7-13), Spring Hill (11-9), Paola (18-2) and Louisburg (3-17).

The girls’ side seems much easier to pick. Paola in a breeze.

• At Ottawa •

Teams — Wamego (6-14), Abilene (16-4), El Dorado (7-13) and Ottawa (8-12).

Another very weak sub-state. It will be a no-stress weekend for Abilene.

• At Tonganoxie •

Teams — Atchison (8-12), Tonganoxie (6-14), Eudora (4-16) and DeSoto (12-8).

Must be a lot of bad teams this year. DeSoto easily moves on.

• At Wellington •

Teams — Winfield (7-13), Rose Hill (12-8), Mulvane (1-19) and Wellington (20-0).

I know Wellington has a glittering record, but at least Rose Hill will make it work in the finals in what should be a competitive game. This is a history-making season for Wellington and it should last a little longer as it has two great players that can carry it to the semifinals.

• At Ulysses •

Teams — McPherson (18-2), Ulysses (3-17), Hays (8-12) and Buhler (7-13).

The Bullpups should erase the sting of last year’s sub-state loss and make it to state for the 19th time in the last 21 years.