The Olathe South High School girls basketball team had been looking forward to its matchup with Leavenworth, and the cancellation of the Firebird Winter Classic championship game a week earlier had only added to the anticipation.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
When the Falcons finally got to face the Pioneers with the chance to take sole possession of the top spot in the Sunflower League, they knocked off The Star’s top-ranked big-class team 61-48 last Friday. The Falcons, who were the third-ranked team, improved to 12-1 and 5-0 in league play, while Leavenworth dropped to 12-1 and 4-1.
“We were the underdogs coming in because they were undefeated,” Olathe South senior Bailey Rinehart said. “It’s always good to beat an undefeated team.”
With the victory, Olathe South also took over the top spot in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A rankings.
Cougars growing up
The Shawnee Mission Northwest girls basketball team might have only one senior player, but that has not held them back.
Entering Tuesday night’s game with Lawrence, the Cougars had records of 9-5 overall and 3-2 in the Sunflower League.
“We have great senior leadership in Amanda Hoelting, and we have some young players really coming into their own,” head coach Jeff Dickson said. “We share the ball very well, we are continuing to up our level of intensity in practice and hopefully that is carrying over into games.”
Sophomore Brenni Rose leads the Cougars with 13.2 points per game. She also ranks second with five rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
Tigers staying positive
In a league as tough as the Eastern Kansas League, Blue Valley girls basketball coach Ryan Mahoney says a big part of the battle is self-validation.
Although the Tigers are 8-7 overall and 5-4 against EKL teams, they reappeared in the KBCA rankings this week to take the No. 9 spot in the 6A poll.
“It’s really tough trying to keep the kids positive and understand that even if they get beat by a really good team, that does not mean that they are now a bad team, because we are going up against someone who is really, really good every night,” Mahoney said. “When we do get big ones though, they know we’ve earned them.”
The Tigers won one of the big ones over the weekend against Blue Valley North, which was previously undefeated in league play, and they will go for another against defending class 5A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday.
Despite losing to Olathe South last Friday, Leavenworth kept its No. 2 ranking in the KBCA 5A poll. Olathe South also kept its second-place ranking in 6A where it trails Wichita South.
Blue Valley moved back into the rankings at No. 9 in 6A, joining Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission Northwest, fourth and seventh, respectively. St. Thomas Aquinas is third in 5A, and Bishop Miege is second in 4A.