March Madness is looming in high school basketball.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The February conference battles, meanwhile, are just heating up.
With less than three weeks until district tournaments begin March 3, teams from the four Suburban Conferences will play league games only over the remainder of the regular season.
Let's take a look at what to expect for the stretch run in each of the boys conferences. Records are through games Monday.
1. Blue Springs South (15-3 overall, 4-0 in conf)
2. Lee's Summit (13-5, 3-1)
3. Lee's Summit North (8-10, 2-2)
4. Liberty (13-5, 1-2)
5. Blue Springs (10-8, 1-3)
6. Raymore-Peculiar (6-12, 0-3)
Outlook: Blue Springs South took a strong hold atop the league standings with wins against Lee's Summit and Liberty on back-to-back nights. The Jaguars are starting to get scoring from a better variety of sources with guard Brandon Kilgore working his way into a mix that already featured Kevin Puryear and K.J. Robinson. Liberty, once seen as Blue Springs South's strongest conference rival, lost two games last week. More than half of the league schedule remains, but another slip could spell the end to the Blue Jays' championship hopes.
1. Park Hill South (14-4, 3-0)
1. Ruskin (5-12, 2-0)
3. Lee's Summit West (15-3, 3-1)
4. Park Hill (9-10, 1-3)
5. Truman (6-11, 0-2)
6. St. Joseph Central (3-13, 0-3)
Outlook: In what will likely emerge as a two-team race for the conference crown, Park Hill South gained the upper hand last Thursday with a 61-53 win against Lee's Summit West. The Panthers scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to defeat last year's conference champion. Park Hill South isn't an easy team to defend because of its balanced scoring. Hudson Welty, Robert Lane, Ryan Welty, Payton Meek and Evan Hines have all taken turns as the team's top offensive options.
1. Fort Osage (12-5, 5-1)
2. Raytown (12-6, 4-1)
3. Oak Park (7-10, 4-2)
3. William Chrisman (10-8, 4-2)
5. Staley (9-7, 3-3)
6. Belton (5-12, 0-5)
7. North Kansas City (2-16, 0-6)
Outlook: After a 5-5 start to the season, Fort Osage has won seven straight games to vault to the top of the league standings. Sophomore Skylar Thompson has excelled during the streak, and he leads the Indians with 16.4 points per game. But the race is far from over. Raytown, led by double-double machine Jailen Gill, trails the Indians by only one victory and will play host to Fort Osage on Feb. 21. William Chrisman and Oak Park are much-improved from last season, and they are only one game back as surprise contenders.
1. Grandview (12-5, 2-0)
2. Kearney (10-8, 3-1)
2. Liberty North (12-7, 3-1)
4. Winnetonka (9-8, 2-2)
5. Platte County (7-11, 0-3)
5. Raytown South (7-11, 0-3)
Outlook: It has been a bit of a rocky ride for Grandview since its 9-2 start, but the Bulldogs scored a huge overtime victory at Liberty North last Friday. It took a last-minute comeback from point guard Tyrone Taylor for the Bulldogs to knock off the defending chamion, and it will take a similar effort to remain in the top spot. Kearney and Liberty North are two of the most physical teams in the conference. They won't go down easily.