Here are five things to watch — post holiday break — on the Kansas high school girls basketball side.
1. Who will contend with Leavenworth?
On Saturday, Leavenworth faced some of its toughest competition of the season and passed the test with flying colors by defeating Rock Bridge and its two Division I recruits.
Now the question becomes who can keep up with the Pioneers when it comes to Sunflower League play? Olathe South split the season series last year and tied Leavenworth for the title, but Olathe South is playing without star guard Kylee Kopatich. The Falcons took an early loss, but seem to be adjusting well. SM Northwest and Lawrence Free State may also be in the mix, with 6-0 and 5-0 records, respectively.
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2. Can Bishop Miege pull off a repeat?
The Stags brought back all but one player from their Kansas Class 4A Division I state title team, which slots them as a favorite to win it all again.
They are off to a solid 4-0 record and have outscored opponents by an average of 28.5 points per game. They are the top ranked team in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll.
Madeline Homoly, Tristen McFeders and Shelbie Piggie have stepped up as early leaders for the Stags.
3. Where will Olathe South land?
The Falcons are playing without their best player — Kylee Kopatich — who tore an ACL before the season, but that has not seemed to slow them down.
Before the break, Olathe South won the Lady Eagle Classic Tournament in Joplin and the Falcons are still ranked third in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll. That is a tribute to coach Steve Ingram’s success and consistency.
4. Do the Cougars have a shot?
Shawnee Mission Northwest’s biggest strength right now is experience.
They lost just one senior from last year’s team, which helped Cougars coach Tyler Stewart make the transition to head coach this year.
They are currently ranked fourth in the coaches poll for Class 6A and trail only Olathe South for Sunflower League schools in the top classification. Leavenworth is on top of the 5A state poll.
5. Can the Saints contend in Class 5A?
Another intriguing team in the 913 area is St. Thomas Aquinas, which will likely compete with Bishop Miege for the Eastern Kansas League title.
The Saints are currently ranked second in the Class 5A poll, with early victories against Blue Valley, Blue Valley North and Blue Valley West in league play.