When high school basketball resumes Tuesday, the Great Bend Panthers will kick off the Western Athletic Conference season at Dodge City.
The WAC girls race appears to be a balanced race. The Dodge City girls (2-2) captured the WAC title last year, but the Red Demons graduated several starters. Liberal (5-0), Hays High (4-1) and Great Bend (3-2) sport winning records.
Leading scorer Carley Brack (20 ppg), Carly Dreiling (10 ppg) and Camryn Dunekack (6 ppg) have led the Panthers. Brack scored 19 points in a 41-31victory over Hutchinson High.
Hays High (5-0) and Liberal (5-0) are poised to headline the boys race. Great Bend (1-4) starts with winless Dodge City (0-4), a chance to earn a league road victory for the first time in two years. All-league Kody Crosby (17 ppg), Konner Ireland (9 ppg) and Brayden Smith (10 ppg) have led the Panthers’ balanced offense.
Defending champion Hesston (5-1) joins Hillsboro (5-1) as the co-favorites, and seven teams sport winning records.
Larned (2-4) and Hoisington (1-4) will attempt to move up in a competitive league race. Larned’s Johnathan Herter, Dalton Bright and Mason Schartz have led the Indians.
Kingman’s girls (6-0) are a solid league favorite. Halstead (5-2) has been the biggest surprise. Hesston (4-2) and Haven (3-2) have reloaded with younger talent.
Larned’s girls (2-4) have been a pleasant surprise led by . Hoisington (1-4) has pieced together a lineup behind Emma Harmon.
Hoisington opens at Lyons Tuesday and plays at Kingman Friday. Larned travels to Hillsboro Friday.
The Central Prairie boys division features four state-ranked teams.
The No. 1 ranked Class 2A St. John boys (6-0) will start with Kinsley Tuesday after they beat the Coyotes 103-6 in December. The Tigers’ next serious challenge will occur Friday when No. 2 Class 2A Ness City (7-0, 2-0) plays at St. John Friday.
All-league point guard Cole Kinnamon (18 ppg, 4 apg), defensive leader Jorge Calleros (10 ppg) and Chase Fisher (12 ppg) have led the Tigers.
No. 7 ranked Class 1A Otis-Bison (5-0) has been a pleasant surprise keyed by Maitland Wiltse (18 ppg), Clade Anderson (12 ppg) and Kade Urban (9 ppg).
Defending champion Central Plains (5-2) will make a big jump when center Alex Barton returns in January from a football injury. Macksville (4-2) is led by Jacob Rein (15 ppg), Diego Delgadillo (15 ppg) and Brigdon Russell (10 ppg). Ellinwood (3-2) has played competitive basketball keyed by Tyson Martinez.
Central Plains freshman phenom Emily Ryan (22 ppg) has assured the Oilers (7-0) are heavily favored to defend their league championship after winning three Class 2A state championships in a row.
Kinsley (4-2) qualified for the Class 2A state tournament for the first time in school history last year. Otis-Bison (5-0) has started fast behind high-scoring Taylor Regan. Macksville (3-3, 1-0) is led by Sophie Filbert (15 ppg), and Emma Stimatze (7 ppg). St. John (3-3) is paced by Bailey Burns and Tara Nelson averaging in double figures. Ellinwood (0-5) is led by Brittney Beck.
Tuesday, Ellinwood travels to Ellis and Stafford plays at Otis-Bison. On Friday, it’s Macksville at Central Plains and Otis-Bison at Victoria.
Pawnee Heights plays Ashland at home Friday. The Pawnee Heights boys (6-1, 1-1) have matched their win record from last year. Kade Scott, Spencer Vanmeter and Caleb Karst have led the Tigers. Ashlee Miller and Katie Amspacker have led the Tiger girls (1-6, 0-2).