In his freshman season at Fort Osage, Austin Regier and the Indians won only six games. He thought things couldn’t get much worse. They did. The team won five games the following season. That seems like long time ago, because Fort Osage has clinched a league championship for the first time since 1970 and will take a 19-4 record into tonight’s regular season finale against Staley. First, though, Regier — a 6-6 senior forward — went Four Quarters with The Star.
Q. What did winning the conference for the first time in 43 years mean to you guys?
A. “We wanted to make a statement this year, and winning conference was definitely one of our goals. That’s not only huge for our basketball program, but also our school. We’re getting this train going so that future teams can keep it going.”
Q. As one of three starters 6-5 or taller, how do you use that size to your advantage?
A. “It’s really nice because having guys like Zach Adams (6-6) and D’Vante Mosby (6-5) on the roster, that lets me play (small forward) and get some really good matchups. As far as rebounding, we’re able to do that well because we get a third guy above 6-5 that’s able to go down in there and control the boards and limit everybody to one shot. That’s been one of the keys for us.”
Q. Do you ever look back at the strides this program has made in your time here?
A. “Yeah, it’s amazing when I think about the state of the program. Whenever I look back at it, I think it was more attitude than anything. It wasn’t about the team back then. Now, if you go into our locker room, it’s amazing how we’re a cohesive unit and how much we just like being around each other.”
Q. Most important, how are you spending the snow day Thursday?
A. “Unfortunately, I can’t play basketball, so I’m just watching some basketball. Maybe I’ll hit up some NBA 2K on the XBox or something.”
By the Numbers
.121 That was the Leavenworth girls team’s winning percentage in Sunflower League games the last three seasons (4-29 overall). Now, in the first season under coach Derek Zeck, the Pioneers, 11-8, are guaranteed to finish above .500 conference after improving to 6-4 in conference with a 39-36 win at Olathe East.
11 Current winning streak for the North Kansas City girls since back-to-back losses to St. Joseph Benton and St. Joseph Lafayette in early January. A year after finishing 18-9, the Hornets are 21-3 under coach Jeff Lacy.
21 Consecutive games in which Blue Springs senior Jay Corwin has scored in double figures. The streak helped Corwin reach 1,000 career points in a victory against Lee’s Summit last week.
300 Career wins for St. Thomas Aquinas girls coach Rick Hetzel, who hit the milestone in a 61-30 win Feb. 11 against Blue Valley West. Hetzel, whose squad has added two wins since to clinch the East Kansas League championship outright, is 302-63 in 15 seasons with the Saints — an .827 winning percentage that now includes nine EKL titles. Aquinas, ranked No. 1 in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 5A poll, has been to state every season in Hetzel’s tenure.
Game to Watch
• SM South at SM East boys: It’s always a big game when SM South and SM East meet, and that’s never been more true than tonight. The undefeated Raiders, 19-0, ranked No. 1 in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 5A poll, enter hostile territory against the host Lancers, 18-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class 6A. Both teams are 10-0 in Sunflower League play, making this a de facto league championship game.
• Blue Springs South at Lee’s Summit North boys: The top two teams in the Suburban Gold Conference meet in the regular season finale. Blue Springs South, 22-2, has clinched the league crown, as well as the No. 1 seed in Class 5, District 14, but the Jaguars still have motivation to send a message. Lee’s Summit North, 15-8, is seeded second for the same district tournament next week, meaning tonight’s game could provide a preview of the district championship.
• Park Hill South at Truman boys: A stout defense will meet an offense defined by its consistency. Park Hill South has allowed more than 60 points only three times this season, while Truman has scored that number in 11 of its 25 games. The Panthers won the first battle, 43-36, and look to again slow Truman’s attack.
• Piper at Lansing boys: The host Lions, 18-1, will try to avenge their only loss of the season against Piper, 14-5, which topped Lansing 62-55 in a Jan. 8 meeting in Kansas City, Kan. Led by junior Luke Long, who averages a team-best 12.1 points per game, the Pirates would love to pull another upset, but the Lions, whose leading scorer is junior Joe Schneider (13.5), need a win to clinch the Kaw Valley League title outright.
The Star’s Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Sam McDowell, email@example.com, contributed to this report.
| Sam McDowell, firstname.lastname@example.org