Kansas High School Basketball State Tournaments begin Wednesday, and four Hutchinson-area teams are still alive
The Buhler boys, Nickerson girls, Pretty Prairie girls and Central Christian girls will play in the state quarterfinals, which for all start Thursday.
The Buhler boys will face McPherson at 2 p.m. at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina while the Nickerson girls will kick off at 6 p.m. at Hutchinson Sports Arena against Frontenac, who was in the last four last year. The Pretty Prairie Girls will face Osborne and the Central Christian Girls will face South Haven, both games at 4 p.m. with Pretty Prairie at the Class 1A Division I State site in Dodge City and Central Christian at Barton Community College for the site 1A Division II.
Nickerson is returning to the state tournament for the fourth time in the past five years and is looking to drive through a resilient Frontenac who was also in the bottom four the past two seasons. Nickerson dropped from 4A to 3A in the realignment. The Lady Panthers were sub-state runners-up after falling to McPherson, who is also competing in the state tournament this year in 4A.
The Central Christian and Pretty Prairie girls have competed in the state tournament for the past few years and are looking to take it one step further. Pretty Prairie is a top team with most of its players coming off of runners-up in the 1A Division I State Volleyball Tournament.
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Buhler vs. McPherson, Part III
It’s always tough to beat a team a third time, but Buhler’s boys are up for the challenge after sweeping McPherson in the regular season and winning an AVCTL-DIII title as well as a substate championship.
After beating McPherson twice, junior Jack Voth is confident he and his team can beat them again and advance to the last four.
“I’m confident we can do it again,” Voth said. “It’s a tough draw to draw them for our first round, but we were probably going to have to play them no matter what. So might as well get rid of them.”
Senior Isaiah Hernandez was on Buhler’s last state tournament-bound team and believes this team has what it takes to make a deep run.
“We know going into this game they’re going to play their game,” Hernandez said, “And they’re going to be scrappy with us. We’re just going to have to go in there and play, just like the coach said. , play like men and toughen it up. It should be a good game.”
Nickerson girls take on Frontenac
Junior Ava Jones’ grandfather, Dale Honeck, celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. It would have been her 76th, but instead Jones received a photo showing Honeck holding her when she was two years old.
The photo was also taken after Honeck and her Hillsboro women’s basketball team won the state championship at Sports Arena in 2008.
Now, 14 years later, Jones will play at Sports Arena with the second-seeded Nickerson Panthers.
Another memorable moment featured senior Kieryn Ontjes. Before her first state tournament in high school, she was sick, everyday.
“I went to school and slept through all of my classes because the teachers were like, ‘Oh, go ahead and go to sleep,'” Ontjes said. “When I was on the pitch, I was like gagged. I was like, ‘I need to get out.’ So the referee said, ‘She needs to get out,’ and I ran away and threw up and just came back after that like nothing happened.”
Jones called it his flu game against Michael Jordan after Ontjes scored 16 points. Jones also talked about being back in the state tournament after the dominant season she and her team had. They know they will face a tough team in Frontenac.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Jones said. “We’re the second seed, but Frontenac is obviously a great school and it’s going to be a competition for us. It’s just a great opportunity, and we’re going to go out there and get it. We’re going to work for it.”
Continued:What you need to know about the 75th NJCAA Division I Men’s National Basketball Tournament at Hutchinson
Central Christian and Jolie Prairie
The Central Christian and Pretty Prairie girls will play at 4 p.m. Thursday, Central Christian at Great Bend against South Haven and Pretty Prairie at Dodge City against Osborne.
One of the things that allowed Central Christian to leapfrog McPherson-Elyria Christian in the substate final was defense, and seniors Samantha Ramsey and Aly Lambert are looking to use their size and spit the offense of ‘Osborne.
“Watching a movie, I haven’t seen so many big girls,” Lambert said. “Sammy and I think we can dominate them on the boards. That’s our thing. We have to dominate on the boards, and I think we’ll be in good shape.”
After winning the substate over the weekend, Ramsey was excited, especially for breaking the substate barrier.
“We’ve been here for a few years, and it’s just nice to finally get over that wall. We’re all thrilled. We were so loud and pouring water on the coach (DJ Kauffman) in the dressing room. ‘was great.”
Pretty Prairie beat Norwich to avenge last year’s Understate final defeat and also used heavy defensive effort. Pretty Prairie’s offense is also dominant with the two-position system led by junior Bailey Young and senior McKenna Vogl.
Billy Watson is the sports reporter for The Hutchinson News and has been in Kansas since March 2021. To pitch story ideas, you can email [email protected] or direct message on Twitter @hutchsports Where @billywatson4l.