Category Archives: basketball

MIAA, KCAC and Jayhawk title races

Fort Hays State's Craig Nicholson (FHSU photo)

Fort Hays State’s Craig Nicholson (FHSU photo)

Title races are coming down to the wire in the MIAA, KCAC and Jayhawk — along with races for league MVPs, where it’s not hard to identify the players who have separated themselves as the best.

Here’s a look at the men’s and women’s title races in each league:

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Beyond the Cutline: Merissa’s Moment



CUTLINE: Emporia State forward Merissa Quick receives the MIAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player plaque from MIAA commissioner Bob Boerigter after the Hornets defeated Central Missouri in the MIAA championship game last Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. Quick scored 22 points in the win.

BEYOND THE CUTLINE: This photo stood out to me mainly because of Quick, a Cheney native who has battled back from microfracture knee surgery after last season and has dominated as the knee has gotten better and the season stretched on. Props to ESU assistant AD Don Weast for sending me the pic as part of a larger feature I’m writing on Quick.

MATTHEW S. HICKS: Basketball games are a free for all once games start, and after a big win things can get even more unpredictable. I’ve covered the MIAA Tournament for all 11 years it’s been in Kansas City, and I think Emporia State has been in the championship game here 5-6 times and this is the first time they won so the emotions the girls were showing was really kind of special … I even remember a lot of them walking around saying “This is just unbelievable” and they were kind of just taken with the moment. With the shot of (Quick), I’m not one of these photographers that will yell out to someone to get them to look my way. I just wanted to let her have that moment, do her thing and make sure I press the button.

MERISSA QUICK: We’d just won the conference tournament so we got to extend our season, which was the main thing. I was just shocked to find out I was outstanding player of the tournament, that was exciting. I just wanted to do anything I could do for the team to win, getting the award that was just extra bonus. I was so happy I wasn’t even thinking about who was handing me the award.


All-Jayhawk picks, Alex Davis, looking back at Region VI picks



It’s easy to be critical of all-conference teams when you’re not the one picking the teams … but sometimes the mistakes are so egregious they can’t be ignored. The Jayhawk Conference made one of the more head-scratching mistakes in recent history when they left 6-foot-9 Hutchinson forward Alex Davis off the All-Jayhawk West and All-Region VI Division I teams. Davis, who is headed to Fresno State, is the best big man to play in the Jayhawk since Seward County/Texas Tech forward Darko Cohadarevic, who led the Saints to the Region VI title (just like Davis)  in 2008 and might be the best to play in the Jayhawk in the last decade.

Davis averaged 13.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and a league-best 2.8 blocks for the Blue Dragons, who are 31-3 headed into next week’s NJCAA Division I Tournament in Hutchinson. If you saw Davis play last year, it was easy to see the potential was there. If you saw him this year, it was easy to see he’d tapped into it. An All-Jayhawk team with five guards … think of an all-conference football team with all running backs and quarterbacks.


Here were my picks for Region VI – missed on the women, hit it right on the head with the men. My biggest whiff? Putting the Barton men out in the quarterfinals, of which I got a suttle reminder of while sitting on press row Friday night.






Region VI semifinals

I’ll post updates from the games as the results come in.

At Hartman Arena, Park City

Women’s semifinals

No. 3 Hutchinson 60, Butler 59 FINAL — Hutchinson’s Chrisstasia Walter led all players with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Butler had to play the final 10 minutes without All-Jayhawk West guard Jamillah Bonner, who injured her ankle.

Cowley 68, No. 12 Garden City 52 FINAL — Cowley rolled to the win over a depleted Garden City squad.  Cowley’s Tonisha Walker led all scorers with 28 points, including 13 of 14 at the free-throw line. Deni Jacobs led the Broncbusters with 16 points. Cowley plays Hutch at 5 p.m. Saturday for the Region VI title.

Men’s semifina

No. 24 Barton 70, Seward County 64 FINAL — All-Jayhawk West guard Algie Key scored 22 points to lead Barton to a win over the defending Region VI champions. Wichita native Kaheem Ransom led Seward with 14 points.

No. 9 Hutchinson (29-3) vs. No. 2 Coffeyville (31-1), 7:30 p.m.

Scouting the Region VI semifinals


Everything goes down beginning tomorrow at Hartman Arena — two women’s semifinals followed by two men’s semifinals.

Here’s a look at the teams, but first …

My picks

I filled out brackets for the Region VI Tournament. I went 4 for 4 in the women’s semifinals and 3 for 4 in the men’s semifinals. The only team I didn’t pick to make it in? The Barton men.

And yes, I got a “3 out of 4 ain’t bad!!!” e-mail from Barton coach Craig Fletchall on Wednesday morning.


No. 3 Hutch (31-1) vs. Butler (26-6), 1:30 p.m. – The Blue Dragons are the defending Region VI champions and lost in the NJCAA championship game last season. Butler has never won a Region VI title. Hutchinson’s sophomores have more wins — 67 — than any other two-year run in school history. Last titles: Hutchinson (2012), Butler (n/a).

No. 12 Garden City (29-3) vs. Cowley (28-4), 3:3o p.m. -- The Broncbusters are responsible for Hutchinson’s only loss this season – 64-62 on Feb. 6 at Garden City. Garden City sophomore forward Tamara Jones leads the Jayhawk in scoring (20.5 points) and is second in rebounding (10.2 rebounds). Montia Johnson leads Cowley in scoring at 12.2 points per game. Last titles: Garden City (2003), Cowley (1989).


Seward County (25-7) vs. No. 24 Barton (26-6), 5:30 p.m. – Barton sophomore Algie Key does a little bit of everything, leading his team with 17.7 points, 1.8 steals and 4.1 assists per game. The Saints are the defending Region VI champions. Kaheem Ransom leads Seward at 16.6 points. Last titles: Seward (2012), Barton (2001).

No. 9 Hutchinson (29-3) vs. No. 2 Coffeyville (31-1), 7:30 p.m. – It’s tough to draw an attention away from the madness that is is the Kansas state high school basketball championships. This game does it. Coffeyville has a pair of surefire Division I players in 6-7 freshman forward Montel James (17.6 points, 8.8 rebounds) and 6-3 freshman guard Earl Peterson (12.5 points). Last titles: Hutchinson (1997), Coffeyville (2011).

I’ll be covering all four games tomorrow from Park City – will post updates here and on Twitter.





Filling out Region VI men’s and women’s brackets

Simple as this – I fill out the brackets and we’ll see how I do in the next week.


I think this is Hutch’s year. I also think Cowley is just starting to become the team I thought they could be all year. One of the most competitive years I’ve ever seen in the Jayhawk, the credit going to that extra NJCAA Tournament berth. Coffeyville should already be in, leaving that one spot up for grabs.


Garden City coach Alaura Sharp outrecruited her competition in the offseason and it has paid off in one of the best regular seasons in league history – don’t forget the Busters made it to an NJCAA Final 4 in the last decade, so there’s some tradition there.

Beyond the Cutline: Mac Madness


“Mac Madness” 

Cutline: McPherson’s Kasey Miller shows the student fans the championship trophy after the Bulldogs defeated Sterling College 87-80 in the 2013 KCAC Championship at Hartman Arena Tuesday night.

Beyond the Cutline: Just a great job by Fernando of capturing the emotions of McPherson’s improbable run to the KCAC title and a fourth straight NAIA Division II Tournament berth. The improbability of the Bulldogs winning the tourney … they barely made it in the tourney, y’all. Here’s Taylor Eldridge’s game story from Tuesday night, which includes a link to a photo gallery from Fernando. The shot of Miller ran on the front of our Wednesday sports section.

Fernando Salazar: By the time the game is over, you already have an idea of which players or coaches are the ones that are really showing emotion and might make for some good shots. You try to find the one or two guys you know might deliver, but in this case as soon as the game was over and they were passing around the trophy, I was just following whoever had it and (Miller) went over to the fans

Kasey Miller: We’d been through so much adversity this year that at the moment the picture was taken I was just so happy, which I think you can tell, and just grateful to be a part of this team and with this particular group of guys that did this. I’m from Derby, so the picture running in my hometown paper was pretty cool, and I’ve kind of felt like a celebrity since it came out because a lot of people have been approaching me and saying stuff about the shot. My mom came into work on Wednesday morning in Derby and all the people she works with were telling her about it and she sent me a picture of the paper. It was the end of a crazy week of basketball for us, and like I said I’m just glad I got to be around this group of guys and this team.



KCAC championships postponed until Tuesday, looking back on Newman’s loss, the Oscars

Just a heads up on the KCAC Tournament championship games – they’ve both been moved to Tuesday and are both still going to be played at Hartman Arena in Park City. The men’s final between McPherson (14-17) and Sterling (21-10) is at 6 p.m., followed by the women’s final between Kansas Wesleyan (18-12) and Southwestern (22-7) at 8 p.m.

Here’s the KCAC’s official release on the postponements.

I like McPherson in the men’s final and Southwestern in the women’s. Here are the stories from Saturday night by Eagle stringer Lionel Tipton on the Friends men losing to McPherson on a last-second shot. The top-seeded Friends women – the KCAC regular-season champs – lost to Kansas Wesleyan at home in the semifinals but already have a bid to the NAIA Division II Tournament next month in Sioux City locked up.


I covered No. 21 Newman’s loss to Arkansas-Fort Smith on Saturday at Newman – the Jets and UAFS were tied for first place in the Heartland, and the win clinched at least a share of the title for the Lions and the right to host the Heartland Tournament. The Lions won this game in the post and from beyond the three-point arc — Newman can usually negate any team’s three-point shooting when Trae Beck gets hot, but he was ice cold on Saturday. In the post, there wasn’t much the Jets could do … especially when UAFS big men showed they were able to hit the three, handle the ball in the open court and then post up in half-court sets. That’s a tough out for anybody.  UAFS swept the regular-season games against Newman this year and a third matchup, at Fort Smith, would be incredibly entertaining. Key for Newman? Senior guard Shamar Acuay has to stay out of foul trouble. He’s a physical guard


Last night’s Oscars were as much fun as I’ve had watching the Academy Awards in I don’t know how long. Yeah, I know it’s long, but it’s long every year. Yeah, I know it can be a little stuffy, but it’s stuffy every year. That’s just the Oscars.

From the variety of movies that won (Jennifer Lawrence, Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee, Daniel Day Lewis … wow) to MacFarlane as a host to Ben Affleck’s amazing, heartfelt speech at the end, this was a home run.




All about KCAC basketball


Two big happenings in the KCAC this week – All-KCAC picks are out and KCAC Tournament quarterfinals begin Friday.

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Beyond the Cutline: Star-Spangled Sons

This is a new, weekly feature for Sunflower Slate where I’ll take a picture from off the beat and get the story behind it – from the person that took it and the people in it. If you have ones you think might be worthy, feel free to e-mail them to me:

Be safe out there in all this snow.

“Star-Spangled Sons” 


Cutline: Butler Community College men’s basketball coach Mike Bargen stands for the national anthem with his son, John, before Butler’s Feb. 9 game at Hutchinson. Butler defeated Hutchinson, then No. 1 and undefeated, 70-64.

Beyond the Cutline: I saw the picture, taken by Mike Bargen’s wife, Kacy, on Facebook while I was in Orlando last week. When I got back I was interviewing Mike and asked him about it.

The Grizzlies have won five straight and were 21-6 and 9-4 in Jayhawk West play headed into Wednesday afternoon’s game at Cloud County. I thought it was striking because Mike would have been about the same age as John, who is five years old, when Mike’s father, Gary, was the head men’s coach at Hutchinson from 1978 to 1986.

Mike Bargen: (Kacy) and I talked for awhile about finding a road game that we could bring (John) to that was close enough where we wouldn’t have to keep him up too late. I want him to get to experience some of the things that I experienced with my dad when I was young. I’ve got some very similar (pictures) of me with my dad when he was the coach at Hutchinson.

Kacy Bargen: I’m from a military family and was brought up with some fairly strict guidelines … including attention during the national anthem. I was so proud of his posture! I hated to be snapping a photo during the national anthem … but the moment was too good to miss.