Surprising finalists in KCAC men's tourney

By Steve Sell
March 02, 2015

Monday’s musings...

• KCAC MEN’S TOURNEY TOPSY-TURVY — I was shocked — SHOCKED ! — Saturday with the results of the KCAC Men’s Basketball Postseason Tournament.

Having seen Tabor play four times this season, I didn’t see any way for the Bluejays to lose — at home, no less — to Friends.

It just reinforced my belief that Friends’ Dale Faber was the KCAC Coach of the Year — just as I posted in a column last week.

You’re not going to lose many games making 30 of 45 shots as Friends did. KCAC first-team selection Toby Baxter — a hometown Wichita product — was an astounding 13 of 14 from the field and scored 35 points.

The Falcons play the perfect style to pull off upsets — they befuddle teams with their 3-2 and 2-3 zones and shoot the 3-ball well. They always have a puncher’s chance as they have an uncanny knack of making teams play at their pace.

This had to be a shocking blow to Tabor, which was rollicking with confidence by the way it played against McPherson College. 

I still believe the Bluejays have the type of team that can make a significant run at nationals. They just have to put this game out of their mind.

As for the other semi, Grant Greenberg couldn’t carry the Saint Mary Spires into the tourney finals as they were upset at home by Sterling, 65-64. The Warriors, remember, were 0-4 at the start of conference play, but snatched a victory away from Bethany in the first round of the tournament by prevailing in overtime and then won at Leavenworth, which is no easy feat. That gym is maybe the second-loudest in the KCAC next to the Concrete Jungle at Ottawa.

I really don’t know how to pick tonight’s title game. How can you not pick against Friends, which should have a tremendous following since the game is being played in Park City at Hartman Arena? If any coach and team can pull it off, though, it’s Dean Jaderston’s Warriors.

The women’s title game matches Friends and Southwestern. Tabor, the No. 1 seed, was knocked out in the first round by Saint Mary, but still has a national berth clinched, so the other national spot goes to tonight’s winner.

Friends plays great defense, but I’m a big believer in Dave Denly and his Moundbuilders. They say defense wins championships, but in this game I’m going with the offensive team — Southwestern.

• TOUGH SUB-STATE FOR HESSTON GIRLS — I had breakfast with Hesston girls coach Matt Richardson on Saturday and he said he was asked by a reporter about the inequities in various sub-states, such as the one Hesston is hosting this week.

His reply was “no comment.”

The defending Class 3A state champions have been ranked in the top spot since Day One and have basically tore through the season without much resistance.

They’ll get it in their sub-state.

A probable semifinal game with 15-5 Southeast of Saline looms on Thursday. In the championship game Saturday, it will be either Lyons (17-3) or Sterling (16-4).

Of course, it was Lyons that Hesston defeated for the state championship last season. The Swathers defeated the Lions earlier this year (48-40) and also have defeated Sterling (56-46). Perhaps their most impressive win was a 54-38 decision over ranked Class 4A Division I school Buhler. Their closest game was a 36-30 win over Emporia.

• WATCH ELYRIA GIRLS — The Elyria Christian School girls are the top seed in the Sylvan-Lucas Class 1A Division II sub-state.

The Eagles of coach Greg Fields are 14-6 on the year and have been red-hot the second half of the season. They have been especially strong on the defensive end, while riding the three-pronged offensive attack of Anna Adamyk, Rachel Adamyk and Addison Fields.

The Eagles have a first-round bye and then will probably play Central Christian, a team they just walloped last Thursday. 

More than likely, the Eagles will have to beat tourney host Sylvan-Lucas to advance to state.

• MUM’S THE WORD — Normally somebody has loose lips and leaks information.

But the lack of knowledge surrounding the Cliff Alexander situation at KU is surprising.

Bill Self held out his freshman forward from Saturday’s game against Texas, which it struggled much of the way before emerging with a 69-64 win. The NCAA informed KU there could be a problem with his eligibility and left it at that. Self was in the dark about the situation and seemed as dismayed as anybody.

Alexander has been a puzzlement to me this year. At times he plays with a big motor, and other games seems dazed and confused. He’s the best complement to Perry Ellis inside, as he has a power forward’s body, though sometimes he runs like a guy with bad knees.

I’m sure later today somebody will unearth the reason and shed the light on this situation.