Kansas substate basketball tournaments are already under way this week in lower classifications, but the first rounds of Class 6A, 5A and 4A Division I action begins Wednesday for 913-area schools. Here are a few boys storylines to monitor.
One of the more intriguing matchups in Class 6A might be SM East at SM South at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, since it will be the second game between these two squads in six days. SM South won the first game, 55-39, and both teams enter with 11-9 records in the SM South substate.
Despite struggling to find a rhythm in Eastern Kansas League play, Blue Valley West has won four consecutive games to finish the regular season with a 13-7 record. The Jaguars are the top seed in their Class 5A substate and will host Harmon at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
In Class 4A Division I, Bishop Miege will host Bonner Springs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Miege won four of its last five games to end the regular season and a victory against the Braves could mean a matchup against top-seeded Eudora in the substate finals. Those two teams are ranked fifth and sixth in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll.
Kansas girls substate preview
Here are a few storylines to watch when the girls substate tournaments begin heat up this week.
Although Olathe East and Blue Valley North are seeded second and seventh in their Class 6A substate, history suggests it will be much more competitive when the two teams meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Olathe East. The two squads already played once this year and Olathe East escaped with a three-point victory. They are trying to bounce back from four consecutive losses to end the regular season.
Mill Valley will try to take some momentum from its Kaw Valley League title when it hosts Blue Valley West at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Jaguars are 17-3 and seeded second in the BV West Class 5A substate.
Bishop Miege carries a 20-0 record into the 4A DI substate tournament and will host Eudora at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the first round. The Stags are ranked first in the KBCA poll and were champions of the Eastern Kansas League.
State bowling on deck
The Sunflower League — week in and week out — has proven to be one of the toughest bowling conferences in the state. The way Olathe North coach Jim Anderson sees it, that can only help his Eagles entering the Kansas Class 6A bowling state tournament on Friday at Northrock Lanes in Wichita.
Both his Eagles squads qualified with second-place finishes in their regional meets last week. The Olathe South girls and Olathe East boys took home regional titles, only to have the Olathe North girls and Olathe Northwest boys win the Olathe City tournament the next day. Lawrence and Lawrence Free State had won the Sunflower League meet the prior week.
“For a lot of years, all the Wichita schools were the schools to beat,” Anderson said. “They are still really good, but our Sunflower group has definitely made the turn.”
Olathe Northwest’s Mackenzie Saulnier, who won an individual state title in 2013, is currently leading the Kansas Class 6A girls with a 216 average. Fellow Sunflower League bowlers Nicole Edwards of Shawnee Mission North and Allie Brachtenbach of Olathe East are also ranked in the top five.
Olathe North’s Drake Rapue, who bowled a 300 in the Olathe City tournament, is tied for first on the boys side with a 226 average. Olathe East’s Devonte Brown and Olathe North’s Branden Russell also represent the Sunflower League in the top 10.
St. James Academy’s Alanna Dierking and DeSoto’s Danny Erickson are each ranked sixth in Class 5A. The Class 5-1A bowling state tournament will take place on Thursday at Northrock Lanes.