If you want to get out and see the best of Wichita and Kansas City high school hoops this year, we have provided some help. Here is a look at games we think are “don’t miss” match-ups, either because of the top players involved or because these teams downright hate each other.
Thursday, December 2 – St. James Academy vs. Ottawa – This has turned into a high-stakes 4A rivalry in Kansas with last year’s game ending in a thrilling two point win for Ottawa. It also features two big-time prospects in Clint McCullough and Semi Ojeleye as well as the Cyclones four-year starting guard Adam Hasty.
Friday, December 3 – Wichita Northwest at Wichita Southeast – Both of these teams have a chance to challenge Heights for the City League title, and as far as a season opener goes, this is as good as it gets. Three premiere bigs in this game with Thurman, Gales and Gunter and we have heard chatter all fall about which team is better.
Tuesday, December 7 – Maize vs. Derby – These are two of the best teams in the AVCTL and Maize went undefeated in the league last year while Derby should be much improved led by the physical Cameron Cornelius and Jabril Richardson. Maize will have 6’7″ 290 pound Steven Wolgamott in the middle and the confidence of a team that fared very well at last year’s state tourney. This will be a battle with title implications.
Friday, December 10 – Wichita Heights at Wichita Northwest – Two of the best teams in the state who don’t exactly like each other in the CL. Two-time defending state champs Heights will be favored but NW has 6’7″ Spencer Gales inside and water-bug Craig Nicholson at the point. Expect a frenzied fan environment and some big dunks.
Wednesday December 15 – Saturday December 18 – Hy-vee Shootout with Kansas against Missouri – Among the many state line battles that will take place at Avila this year, you can include teams from the kcprephoops power rankings such as Lee’s Summit North(#7), Wichita Heights(#1) and O’Hara. Columbia Rock Bridge and Maize are two good teams that will also be in town. But the two marquis match-ups are on the 18th. Ray South’s(#2) Corey Hillard will go head-to-head with Sumner‘s Bennie Parker at 730pm and then Rockhurst(#5) and Blue Valley NW(#3) will battle in the last game of the showcase. These will be big-time games and will be sell-outs so get there early. Metro Sports will televise these games in case you can’t get in.
Friday, December 17 – Wichita East at Wichita North – The terrific East backcourt of Ja’ln Williams and Jalen Love join 6’5 PF Nate Jackson as three of the best players in the City League, but North’s electrifying sophomore Conner Frankamp is worth the price of admission all by himself.
Tuesday, December 21 – Lee’s Summit North at Lee’s Summit West – North’s Chase Salazar and BJ Dunbar are gone but the Broncos have David Kravish, Tory Miller and Kenny Berry back. West will feature a strong senior class led by Roderick Clark, and 6’5″ youngster Trevor Gregory should help ensure an improved season for the Titans. The city of Lee’s Summit has a great basketball tradition and this game is sure to draw a big crowd.
December 27-30 – Bank Midwest William Jewell Holiday Tournament – This is probably the best showcase all year of teams from Missouri (Kansas teams not eligible due to KSHSSA hiatus rules). Programs such as Liberty, O’Hara, Park Hill South, Rockhurst and St. Joe Central will be playing in multiple divisions. No better place to camp-out and watch hoops for four days, especially when you look through the record books and see who has played in the past. It is a who’s who of top college players.
Tuesday, January 4 – O’Hara vs. St. James Academy – Coach Mark Scanlon inherits a talented O’Hara team that we have ranked as the fifth best team in KCMO. Maybe the best backcourt in the city with Jevon Lyle and DJ Jackson, but St. James has two McCulloughs and transfer Jonathan Anakwe from our #9 team on KC’s Kansas side.
Wednesday, January 5 – Liberty vs. Park Hill South – In the renewal of a great rivalry that saw a split last year, this is your chance to see the Bluejay’s Princeton-bound Denton Koon and a Park Hill South team that made a deep run in the state tourney last year and returns some size and scoring with seniors 6’9″ Adam Schemenauer and scoring guard Christian Hildebrandt.
Friday, January 7 – Olathe Northwest vs. Olathe South – This has been one-sided for the Falcons in years past, but the Ravens have a talented junior class with Shavon Shields, Davis Reid and 6’10” transfer Willie Cauley. They will face Olathe South’s terrific backcourt with DJ Cole and Charles McCallister. You might see some big-time college coaches in attendance too.
Saturday, January 8 – Wichita Heights vs. Wichita Southeast – Heights, the reigning state champs, will be led by D1 future stars Perry Ellis and Evan Wessel, but you can expect to see a great match-up inside where SE’s twin towers Gavin Thurman and Kevin Gunter will definitely challenge Ellis.
Friday, January 14 – Rockhurst vs. Raytown South – Dan Tapko, Frank Arbanas, Pat Jones and company vs. Corey Hilliard, Ishmael Wainright and Nodie Newton. One of the best rivalries in KC and a game that promises alot of scoring from both teams. Ray South is likely the best team in the metro but The Rock will give them plenty.
Tuesday, January 18 – Central vs. Lincoln Prep – There is nothing like the IL for run and gun hoops, and this night you will be able to see some talented players from Central such as SG Kyle Murray, who led his team past Northeast last year despite 57 points from the legend, Daylen Robinson. Lincoln Prep features seniors 6’4″ Maurte Harrison (KC Keys AAU) and 6’2″ Marcus Mondaine who both can score it.
January 20-22 – Saints Classic – This tournament at St. Thomas Aquinas always draws big crowds and great rivalries. Top teams on the Missouri side such as Ray-Pec and Grandview will join Kansas teams including SM Northwest and a much improved Aquinas team featuring Joe Downey and a host of juniors who will contribute. A re-building Bishop Miege team will feature talented sophomore Montel Cozart around seniors Curtis Okafor and Bobby Lacy. Great taunting battles between student bodies and the energy in the Saints gym is off the charts.
Tuesday, January 25 – Lawrence vs. Lawrence Free State – One of the area’s best rivalry games as this town still hasn’t gotten over the two-school split. Get there early if you want seats and be prepared for wild fans. Danny Manning, Kevin Pritchard and Bill Self will all have sons in this game, and Free State is featuring Georgi Funtarov, a 6’6″ junior transfer from Bulgaria, as well as a deep team with balance. Lawrence will be much improved too.
Friday, February 4 – Shawnee Mission Northwest vs. Olathe East – This game features two of the Sunflower League championship contenders plus two great guards in the Hawk’s Tyler Kalinoski and NW’s AJ Spencer. And the Northwest gym has the feel of a great, old hardwood arena. SMNW is ranked #5 and East #6 in our pre-season Kansas City (on the Kansas side) poll.
Tuesday, February 8 – Harmon at Schlagle – These two teams have a shot at the KCKL title, and the Rozell Nunn vs. Jauan Wilson match-up will feature two of the best scorers in the city. Mix in some young talent like Harmon junior Jordan Horn and the Stallion’s LaRay Young and you have some legit battles. This rivalry takes on a new wrinkle with a new head coach at Harmon after the sudden dismissal of Heath Cooper.
Tuesday, February 15 – Blue Valley Northwest vs Blue Valley North – No love lost between these two teams, which both reached the Kansas state tournament last season. This game features a loaded NW team led by Brett Fisher and Morgan Smith while North may have lost a bunch of seniors but returns players from an undefeated JV team. This game has a key impact on sub-state seeding when you consider the 8-team bracket will have several programs capable of winning a state championship.
Friday, February 18 – Sumner Academy at Washington – Nothing better than the KCKL for scoring, and in the old Wildcats gym on Leavenworth Road you will see the pure scoring of Washington’s Tra’vaughan White against the up-tempo style of the Sabres Bennie Parker and Eli Alexander. Big-time energy and buzz for this one.
Friday, February 25 – Shawnee Mission East vs. Shawnee Mission South – A big-time Johnson County rivalry game that will showcase
the Raiders post-Will Spradling era versus an East team that has been down but features two strong sophomores in Vance Wentz and Zach Schneider (the league’s frosh of the year last year). Get there early for a seat, its senior night at East. And if you can’t make this game at East, hit the SME at Rockhurst game on January 28. They hate each other too!