Class 4 and Class 5 district tournaments begin next week at locations around the state, including several in the metro area.
1. A marquee matchup looms
The Lee’s Summit West Titans are looking to make a return trip to the Class 5 Final Four next month, but they may face one of their tallest road blocks — or perhaps the tallest — in the Missouri Class 5, District 13 tournament, which will take place inside their home gym. Rockhurst earned the top seed in the district, thanks in large part to a 20-point blowout of the Titans this month. Don’t let that result fool you, though. LS West, 20-4, has come back to avenge two of its four losses this season and toppling Rockhurst in a potential district title game would make it three. Rockhurst senior Kyle Wolf, a 6-6 post player who can shoot from the perimeter, too, presents matchup problems for a LS West team defined by its athleticism. The Titans open with Raymore-Peculiar on Tuesday, while Rockhurst, 20-5, will see the winner of Ruskin and Belton.
2. A district full of possibilities
Few district tournaments are as talented top-to-bottom as the Class 5, District 15 bracket. The district’s sixth seed — William Chrisman — sports a winning record and has won 10 of its last 12 games. Top-seeded Liberty, 16-7, has a dynamic player in junior guard Kellan Turner. Fort Osage, which won the Suburban White Conference for the first time in 43 years, has reeled off 10 straight victories. The Indians’ size — starters Austin Regier, D’Vante Mosby and Zach Adams are each 6-5 or taller — presents matchup problems. And Truman, Winnetonka and Kearney are certainly no slouches, either. The tournament begins Monday at Liberty High School.
3. Peaking at the right time
One of the great things — well, if you’re an optimist — about the district tournaments is the ability to wipe the slate clean. Overall records become virtually meaningless, and instead, the key is playing well entering the postseason. That should make for an intriguing Class 4, District 14 tournament, where Raytown South, led by J.C. Johnson and Tyrone Gibbs, has picked up the slack as of late to move above .500 for just the second time this season. The same could be said for Grandview, which upended Liberty North this week. The Bulldogs, paced by point guard Tyrone Taylor, have won three straight. But the team to beat in this district — held at Grandview High School — will be Center, an under-the-radar, fast-paced team that uses its deep bench liberally. The Yellowjackets are 21-4.
1. One 20-game winning streak must end
Looking for a girls tournament to keep an eye on? You won’t want to miss a potential championship game between Truman and Kearney in the Class 5, District 15 girls bracket. Truman is a perfect 23-0 this season yet doesn’t have a star player. The Patriots are selfless with the basketball and have shown no weaknesses as the state’s top-ranked team. Amazingly, another team in their district has nearly matched their streak. Kearney, 22-2, has won 21 straight games since a 1-2 start, possessing many of the same qualities as Truman. Taylor Doan leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 10.7 points per game, but Meagan Paul, Mackenzie Cook and Cassidy Lee have all shared time in the scoring spotlight.
2. Are the Blue Springs girls poised for another run?
Not long into the season, Blue Springs was an afterthought. The Wildcats were blown out by Rock Bridge and St. Joseph’s Academy in December, and their chances to make a fifth straight trip to the Class 5 championship game seemed slight. Not so fast. Blue Springs has won 17 straight games behind seniors Lizzy Wendell, Karyla Middlebrook and Tyra Bickham. They will be playing on their home court in the Class 5, District 14 tournament, which also includes Lee’s Summit North, Blue Springs South, Lee’s Summit and Raytown.
3. Contender or pretender?
The top two seeds in the Class 5, District 16 tournament — Park Hill South and North Kansas City — have experienced unusually dominant seasons. Both teams are 21-3, yet neither has a high profile. The chance to prove themselves begins Monday at Park Hill South. The Panthers use a frantic full-court trap, led by junior Samantha Roy, to disrupt opponents’ offenses. North Kansas City, meanwhile, possesses one of the area’s most talented point guards in Lexus Bradley. Staley, St. Joseph Central, Park Hill and Oak Park round out the tournament field.
| Sam McDowell, firstname.lastname@example.org