Here are five things to watch — post holiday break — on the Kansas high school boys basketball side.
1. How will the Olathe schools shake out?
Not only do the four Olathe schools get to fight for a Sunflower League title, but after that they will all meet again when it comes time for substate.
This could get especially interesting because, between the four, there are currently only a handful of losses which seem to set up an exciting league race. They will also have the Blue Valley schools in their substate, which includes the Kansas Class 6A state champion and state runner-up from a year ago.
For now, Olathe Northwest is leading the way with a 5-0 record and team title in the Paola Tournament.
2. Can BV West contend for a title?
Blue Valley West has lost just once this season and that was by one point to one of the best teams on the Missouri side — Blue Springs South.
As the Jaguars get ready for conference play, their biggest challenge in the Eastern Kansas League and possibly the entire Class 5A classification is undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas.
Blaise Gammon is leading the Jaguars’ attack with double figures in each of their games and a season-high 27 points in a victory against Shawnee Mission South at the Hy-Vee Shootout. He also had 25 points against Blue Valley on Friday.
3. Can BV North turn the trend in close games?
Blue Valley North finished second in Kansas Class 6A last season and came in as another strong contender this year.
The Mustangs have had a rough start, so far, which left them with a 2-2 record entering the new year. The good news for the Mustangs is that each of their losses came in one-possession games, which seems to say they are close to breaking through once they hit Eastern Kansas League play.
Cooper Cook, who had a season-high 33 points against Center, is the top returner for the Mustangs.
4. Can BV Northwest get back to the title game?
Blue Valley Northwest has played in five consecutive Class 6A state championships and won two in a row, but both streaks may be at risk this season.
The Huskies lost their entire starting lineup, which featured Iowa State guard Clayton Custer. They also have taken a pair of losses to Rockhurst and Bishop Miege.
Dalton Schoen, who was a first-team all-EKL wide receiver for the Huskies’ football team, has stepped up early. He scored 17 points against Miege, with five three pointers.
Blue Valley West will play at Blue Valley on Friday.
5. Miege getting a spark from Zych
After going 5-16 last season, the Stags are off to a 3-0 record with some help from an old friend in coach Rick Zych.
Zych spent two seasons with Park Hill South, but elected to return to Miege, where he had spent 17 years and won 308 games, including two state championships.
Alston Jones has led the Stags early with two double-digit games. He scored a team-best 23 points in a victory against Liberty.