AREA BASKETBALL TEAMS AT STATE
Boys Class 6A
First-round games, Wednesday at Koch Arena, Wichita
No. 1 Blue Valley Northwest (22-0) vs. No. 8 Free State (11-11), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Derby (18-3) vs. No. 5 Garden City (15-7), 4:45 p.m.
No. 2 Wichita North (20-2) vs. No. 7 Blue Valley West (13-9), 6:30 p.m.
No. 3 Shawnee Mission East (20-2) vs. No. 6 Wichita East (15-7), 8:15 p.m.
Girls Class 5A
First-round games, Wednesday at Kansas Expocentre, Topeka
No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (21-1) vs. No. 8 Leavenworth (14-8), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Newton (18-4) vs. No. 5 Andover (18-4), 4:45 p.m.
No. 2 Mill Valley (20-1) vs. No. 7 Salina South, (16-5), 6:30 p.m.
No. 3 Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel (19-3) vs. No. 6 Bishop Miege (17-5), 8:15 p.m.
Boys Class 5A
First-round games, Thursday at Kansas Expocentre, Topeka
No. 1 Shawnee Mission South (22-0) vs. No. 8 Salina South (9-12), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Mill Valley (18-3) vs. No. 5 Andover (17-5), 4:45 p.m.
No. 2 Lansing (20-1) vs. No. 7 Hays (14-7), 6:30 p.m.
No. 3 Emporia (20-1) vs. No. 6 Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel (16-6)
Girls Class 4A
First-round games, Thursday at Bicentennial Center, Salina
No. 1 Wamego (22-1) vs. No. 8 Pratt (14-9), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Fort Scott (17-5) vs. No. 5 Clearwater (16-6), 4:45 p.m.
No. 2 McPherson (20-3) vs. No. 7 Altamont-Labette County (15-7), 6:30 p.m.
No. 3 Paola (18-4) vs. No. 6 Tonganoxie (15-7), 8:15 p.m.
Boys Class 4A
First-round games, Wednesday at Bicentennial Center, Salina
No. 1 Topeka-Highland Park (22-0) vs. No. 8 Winfield (14-9), 6:30 p.m.
No. 4 Abilene (19-4) vs. No. 5 Independence (18-5), 8:15 p.m.
No. 2 Ottawa (22-0) vs. No. 7 Garnett-Anderson County (17-6), 3 p.m.
No. 3 Andale (20-2) vs. No. 6 Kansas City, Kan.-Piper (17-5), 4:45 p.m.
What Free State High's boys basketball team has known since it beat Olathe East Friday night for a Class 6A sub-state championship became official on Sunday: the Firebirds will face the state tournament's No. 1 seed, unbeaten Blue Valley Northwest, in the first round Wednesday at Wichita.
KSHSAA unveiled the brackets for all the state tournaments Sunday morning. Owners of the lowest winning percentage among state-qualifying teams, the Firebirds knew they would draw 6A's top team. No. 8 seed FSHS (11-11) and No. 1 BVNW (22-0) will open the 6A boys tournament at Koch Arena at 3 p.m., with three more first-round games to follow.
Free State's run to Wichita wasn't expected by many outside of the program. Most thought O-East would win its sub-state bracket and end the Firebirds' season. FSHS coach Chuck Law said confidence never wavered, though, within Free State's circle.
"There was a real belief," Law said after Free State's 45-44 win at O-East, "that we could come in and win.
"The credit goes to the kids," he added. "They did the job."
The next task in front of the Firebirds won't be easy. BVNW hasn't lost since last season's state championship game, when Wichita Heights won their fourth consecutive 6A title by beating the Huskies. BVNW has lost two games in the past two seasons and won all but two if its games this season by double digits.
But Law, whose Firebirds entered the 2007 state tournament 11-11 and finished third after knocking off Shawnee Mission West in the first round, said records don't matter at state, because all eight teams have proven they are among the best in Kansas. And, just like before Free State's sub-state championship, few outside the program expect FSHS to win.
"It's gravy at this point," Law said. "We're playing with the house's money."
Free State senior forward Cody Scott said he and his teammates heard from some before their win at O-East that the Hawks were the better team and they should get ready to clean out their lockers because their season was about to end.
"We weren't gonna listen to them," Scott said. "We knew that we had this."
After the Firebirds advanced to state for the fifth time in program history and the first time in six years, junior forward Cole Moreano said they could enjoy that accomplishment until about midnight Friday, then start worrying about BVNW.
"We've just got to keep this thing going, hopefully," he said.
The winner between FSHS and BVNW will advance to Friday's semifinals and meet either No. 4 seed Derby (18-3) or No. 5 Garden City (15-7).
Area teams playing at state
Four other area teams won sub-state championships this weekend and will vie for state titles this week in the smaller class tournaments: both the Mill Valley girls and boys remain alive in 5A, as do the Ottawa boys and Tonganoxie girls in 4A.
The 5A tournaments begin Wednesday at the Kansas Expocentre, in Topeka. The No. 2 seed Mill Valley girls (20-1) take on No. 7 Salina South (16-5) at 6:30 p.m. At 4:45 p.m. Thursday, the No. 4 seed Mill Valley boys (18-3) face No. 5 Andover (17-5).
The 4A boys tournament gets started first Wednesday at the Bicentennial Center, in Salina. Led by Duke University signee Semi Ojeleye, unbeaten Ottawa (22-0) drew the No. 2 seed and will face No. 7 Garnett-Anderson County at 3 p.m. Topeka-Highland Park is the other 4A unbeaten and the No. 1 seed.
Tonganoxie (15-7) earned the No. 6 seed in the girls 4A tournament and will play against No. 3 Paola (18-4) at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.