Evaluating MHS, area basketball teams

By Steve Sell
February 05, 2014

We’ve just completed the annual midseason basketball tournaments and a snow day gave everyone Tuesday night off.

So it’s a good time to evaluate where our high school teams are and what they have to look forward to in this final month of the season.

• McPherson High boys — It can’t get much better for the Bullpups, whose only loss unfortunately came in the first round of the McPherson Invitational. They showed no ill effects of that, bouncing back strong with great games against Buhler, Blue Valley West (their best performance of the year) and Circle. This is a Bullpup team that’s a treat to watch and if it can survive sub-state, it has a chance to make a deep state tournament run since Class 4A Division I is wide, wide open.

• McPherson High girls — After a 2-4 stumble of a start, the Bullpups have recovered nicely to win six of seven and showed in the Mid America Classic that they can play with anybody in the state. It’s a team that relies greatly on the 3-pointer and good defense, but a nice sign is the emergence of bench players like Ally Ulsaker, Madison Hoffman and Cassidy Wedel to augment the starting five. When Janae Barnes can avoid foul trouble, this is a team capable of making state, with troublesome Buhler the sub-state hurdle.

• Hesston boys — Ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and with good reason. The Swathers are practically last year’s 20-3 team getting a do-over and making the most of it. They won the Hillsboro Classic and have a good shot to run the regular-season table — and beyond.

• Hesston girls  — Also ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, the Swathers are loaded with talent and depth. A Feb. 14 rematch with Hillsboro might be the only potential pothole the rest of the regular season. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Swather teams pull a McPherson of 1999 — both teams holding the state championship trophy when all is said and done.

• Little River boys  — The Redskins have ridden strong performances by Tevin Renken and Chord Zeller to another great year. The schedule is pretty light the rest of the way, but a Feb. 21 home game against Inman should be the test this team needs prior to postseason play.

• Little River girls  — It’s a typical Shane Cordell team, relying on solid defense to wear down opponents. Nice years are being turned in by Skylar Johnston and Emily Baldwin. The schedule is favorable the rest of the regular season.

• Moundridge boys  —The Wildcats performed admirably in the Adolph Rupp Classic by taking second place. Coach Vance Unrau has put together a real nice rotation that has the ingredients of making sub-state noise, though Hillsboro could be a problem. Five of the last seven games are on the road, as they have spent most of the year at home. A Feb. 14 game at Berean could be interesting, not to mention a makeup game with Bennington.

• Moundridge girls  — The Wildcats are on a high, coming off the championship of the Haven Classic that included victories over ranked Class 5A Buhler and ranked Class 3A Cheney. The senior leadership of Brooke Holloway and MacKenzie Suderman has rubbed off on the likes of Ashley Holler and Michelle Schrag, who have stepped it up. A Feb. 18 home game against Remington is the one to mark on the calendar. Hillsboro looms in the sub-state and that would have the makings of a titanic game.

• Inman boys  — It’s been an up-and-down year for the Teutons, who are better than their record indicates. They have lost two brutally close games to Moundridge, so that shows what they are capable of. The Teutons were undefeated in February last year and have a couple of tough ones left with Bennington (Feb. 11 at Inman) and Trinity (Feb. 18 at Inman).

• Inman girls  — Maybe a 2-1 tourney performance at Sedgwick is the kick-start the Teutons need. They have a nice core of Kaitlynn Goalden, Abby Ropp and Naomi Williams, just need others to chip in. There are some winnable games left.

• Canton-Galva boys  — The Eagles have made some strides this year under second-year coach Shane Duncan. They are dangerous from the standpoint they can make 3-pointers in bunches, with a couple of nine-trey games last month. Some tough games still dot the schedule.

• Canton-Galva girls  — Kelly Unruh’s team is dangerous when both Cassidy Enns and Erika Smith are both on their games. Tough schedule for the Eagles the rest of the way.

•  Smoky Valley boys   — At this point in the season, the goal is to win a game. The Vikings play hard, but struggle to put the ball in the basket. Games left with Hillsboro, Lyons and Hesston won’t help.

• Smoky Valley girls  — Bill Nelson is playing a lot of young players who hopefully can pour a foundation for future success. Games with Hillsboro and Hesston won’t be fun.

• Elyria Christian School boys — The Eagles are in much the same boat as the Smoky Valley boys, wanting to at least win a game before the regular season is over. Help is on the way, though, as the ECS Junior High boys were very strong this season.

• Elyria Christian School girls — If you're looking for a sleeper team come postseason time, it might just be the Eagles. The Adamyk sisters, Adam and Rachel, have been getting some better support in recent games. Camille Anderson has really picked it up at both ends of the court.