Picking the 4A D-1 sub-state winners

By Steve Sell
March 02, 2015

More often than not, McPherson High's basketball teams have advanced to state by surviving some of the toughest sub-states in their class.

That's because the best basketball in the class is generally played within their proximity.

Once again, the Bullpup teams will have no bargains as they have to journey to Hays.

Thank goodness it wasn't to Ulysses. No offense to the good folks there, but it's like going to freaking Colorado (229 miles, according to Google).

I really don't expect either Bullpup team to trip up against Ulysses in the first round. But the championship games should be doozies.

Much of the season, it was expected the MHS boys would play Hays for the right to advance to Salina and attempt to defend their championship.

But the way Hays has played the second half of the season and the improvement Buhler has made, don't pencil in the Indians just yet.

What they have in their advantage is playing at home. Another advantage should be 6-7 center Brady Werth, but Buhler's 6-6 Jace Williams can match him and actually has more athleticism. Williams is one of the most gifted athletes I have seen in all my years. He's a football player first, a radar-breaking pitcher in baseball and an athlete who moonlights in basketball. While he's somewhat raw as a basketball player, he more than makes up for it with two or three highlight-reel plays a game.

I still think Hays will probably get through against Buhler if it can bring any ball pressure at all. Buhler, in the two games I've seen, simply doesn't handle it that well.

On the girls' side, MHS and Buhler will have little trouble on Friday. Who knows what will happen Saturday when they play on a neutral court, there is so little difference between the teams. It all comes down to whether or not the Bullpups can keep Buhler star Jessica Steffen in check and hopefully draw some charging fouls when makes her mad rushes to the basket.

Class 4A Division I may be the toughest boys class in Kansas. It currently houses three of the state's nine undefeated teams. Some good teams are going to be left at home, for sure. 

All I know is the Bullpups would love to have Winfield's draw. Does any school get more fortunate every year than the Vikings? 

Here's how I see the sub-states breaking down:

• BOYS •

• Augusta •

Thursday – El Dorado (4-16) vs. Andale (17-3), 6 p.m.; Circle (15-5) vs. Augusta (9-11), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — Circle has been a surprise, but Andale has a huge advantage in experience and will get in handily.

• Hays •

Thursday – Ulysses (6-13) vs. McPherson (20-0), 6 p.m.; Buhler (12-8) vs. Hays (13-7), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — The Bullpups will have to survive a huge challenge no matter who makes it. They've come too far to let Hays spoil their season, which I believe will be the final.

• KC Piper •

Thursday – Tonganoxie (4-16) vs. Basehor-Linwood (20-0), 6 p.m.; KC Sumner (8-12) vs. KC Piper (13-7), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — Basehor-Linwood, which like McPherson is undefeated, also has to beat a good team on its home floor. But it will get the job done.

• Labette County •

Thursday – Chanute (9-11) vs. Independence (20-0), 6 p.m.; Coffeyville (10-10) vs. Labette County (11-9), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — Independence is my alma mater, so my Bulldog alums would disown me if I picked against them. Look for Labette County to push them in the finals though.

• Miege •

Thursday – DeSoto (8-12) vs. Eudora (17-3), 6 p.m.; Bonner Springs (13-7) vs. Miege (16-4), 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — Miege. Just because it's Miege.

• Paola •

Thursday – Louisburg (6-14) vs. Fort Scott (14-6), 6 p.m.; Spring Hill (8-12) vs. Paola (13-7), 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — Paola at home will be too much for Fort Scott to overcome.

• Topeka Hayden •

Thursday – Wamego (14-6) vs. Abilene (17-3), 6 p.m.; Ottawa (18-2) vs. Topeka Hayden (13-7), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — What a great sub-state. Hayden, which is the No. 4 seed after making it to the state title game last year, has lost star Marcus Maier to injury, but when push comes to shove, the Wildcats will survive. Ottawa and Hayden in the first round. Are you kidding me? The system is broken when you get a first-round game like that.

• Winfield •

Thursday – Mulvane (4-16) vs. Wellington (10-10), 6 p.m.; Rose Hill (3-17) vs. Winfield (13-7), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

• Prediction — McPherson High has beaten Winfield by 84 points in two games this year. Yet, the Vikings have an easier path to state than the Bullpups. If the Vikings don't make it, it will be the upset of the year.

• GIRLS •

• Augusta •

Friday – Andale (17-3) vs. Augusta (4-16); El Dorado (5-15) vs. Circle (12-8), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — The Indians recovered from their three-game snafu that started with a loss to McPherson High. They shouldn't have any problems.

• Hays •

Friday – Ulysses (5-14) vs. McPherson (16-4), 6 p.m.; Buhler (16-4) vs. Hays (6-14), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — Both McPherson and Buhler deserve to make it and only one will. The Bullpups have recent history on their side.

• KC Piper •

Friday – Tonganoxie (6-14) vs. KC Sumner (16-4), 6 p.m.; Basehor-Linwood (8-12) vs. KC Piper (15-5), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — A Sumner-Piper final should be a dandy. I like Piper at home.

• Labette County •

Friday – Coffeyville (10-10) vs. Chanute (16-4), 6 p.m.; Independence (12-8) vs. Labette County (16-4), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — Another decent sub-state, though the level of Southeast Kansas basketball sometimes leaves a little to be desired. Going with Labette. Sorry Indy fans.

• Miege •

Friday – DeSoto (11-9) vs. Bonner Springs (14-6), 6 p.m.; Eudora (3-17) vs. Miege (20-0), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — I'll be brutally honest. Everyone else in 4A Division I is playing for second place this season. Miege will win its sub-state and go on and win state hands-down. 

• Paola •

Friday – Fort Scott (4-16) vs. Louisburg (10-10), 6 p.m.; Spring Hill (4-16) vs. Paola (20-0), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — How can it not be Paola? 

• Topeka Hayden •

Friday – Ottawa (13-7) vs. Abilene (15-5), 6 p.m.; Wamego (15-5) vs. Topeka Hayden (15-5), 7. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — Great sub-state. Again, these schools should have big gripes. Wamego has been riddled with controversy as five players have quit during the year. I think the Wamego-Hayden winner gets in. One player can't beat five, so I'll go with Hayden.

• Winfield •

Friday – Mulvane (5-15) vs. Wellington (13-7), 6 p.m.; Rose Hill (5-15) vs. Winfield (11-9), 7:30. Saturday’s final – Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

• Prediction — Wellington is the No. 1 seed, but Winfield is going to get in. Again, not much basketball excellence in this part of the state.


Close