LARNED — Put away the leftover turkey and put away the pigskin. It’s Basketball Time!
The colleges have already begun and this week our high schools jump into the action with preseason tournaments.
So get ready for the longest sport of the school year. It’s going to get hot in these gyms on these cold nights!
We’ve already seen the huge shift in officiating on the college level in an attempt to try to clean up the rough and physical play.
A Junior College game a week ago actually had a whopping 84 fouls called. That must have melted a few whistles!
Will that new emphasis trickle down to the high school level?
It’s not supposed to as high school officials have been instructed to call the game just as they have in the past.
One wonders though. The officials, coaches and players in high school watch those televised college games and one has to think there will be some trickle down effect, so be prepared for a lot more whistle tooting than you’ve been used to, especially in early-season games.
The 2014 high school sub-state assignments have already been made and a quick look at the Class 4A sub-states points out one of the reasons that yours truly was against splitting 4A into two divisions.
The 4A sub-states now are made up of just four teams. Win just two games and you make it to the state tournament.
Heck, let’s throw a party and let EVERYONE go to the state tournament!
Of course 5A and 6A schools have had that luxury for some time and it is one of the reasons there have not been the votes to totally overhaul the Kansas classification system.
Take a look at the 4A Division-II sub-state at Russell. Larned, Russell, Nickerson and Pratt.
One of those four is going to the state tournament. Last year those four schools had a combined record of 19-66.
This is not to say they will all have that poor of a season again, but chances are that not many of them will have a winning record.
Somehow it seems there ought to be a better way to reward schools with a trip to the state tournament than reducing the competition to just a couple of games!
I hope we don’t get to the place where everybody gets a ribbon or trophy just for competing.
LOCAL OUTLOOK — The Great Bend Boys and Girls both tip off the 2013-14 season today with games against the Colby Eagles.
Both the Eagles and Lady Panthers are coming off of successful seasons and expect to have good seasons. This first-round game in the Hays City Shootout is a good test for both ball clubs.
Similarly, but at the opposite side of the wins and losses scale, the Colby boys and Great Bend boys tangle.
Colby is coming off of a 7-15 season and the Panthers fell to a 4-14 record in head coach Chris Battin’s fourth year. Both ball clubs are short on big men so look for a fast-paced game with the key element being outside shooting.
Can Great Bend improve on last years’ record? The Colby game is a good place to start.
The winner of this game gets the winner of the Thomas More Prep and Garden City game.
With only one returning starter in Bryce Beck, the Panthers obviously will be depending on a lot of young talent.
It’s important for Battin’s young team to get off to a good start in this tournament to instill confidence in the young players as they look to improve over last years’ performance.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned