Preps notebook: Predicting which area teams will win their sub-state bracket this week

LHS's Mayson Quartlebaum (10) drives the ball past Free State senior Noah Butler (5) in the City Showdown at Lawrence High School, February 11, 2019.

It is that time of year again.

Few things rival postseason high school basketball, especially when so many area teams will have an opportunity to host sub-state games this week. I understand the allure of state tournament week in college arenas, but at least for me, nothing beats meaningful games in packed high school gyms.

The postseason officially began Monday, and many area teams have a good shot of playing for sub-state titles this weekend. As a result, I thought it would be fun to take a look around the area hoops scene and see who I think will be playing in the state tournament next week and which area teams I predict to make it to the sub-state championship.

Sub-state champions: (3) — I like the chances of these three teams making it to their respective state tournament.

Lawrence High boys — The last two 6A state championship games have featured a team from Lawrence, and the Lions appear to have a reasonable shot for making it three in a row. LHS (17-3, No. 5 in Class 6A) has won three titles already this season, including a Sunflower League crown. Seniors Trey Quartlebaum, Clarence King and Brett Chapple, along with sophomore Zeke Mayo, are on a mission, and I fully expect LHS to make a fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament.

Baldwin girls — With the new seeding system in Class 4A, the Baldwin girls basketball team should get two winnable games at home in its sub-state bracket. The Bulldogs (17-1, No. 3 in Class 4A) will face Atchison (6-13) in the first round before playing either Parsons (13-6) or Louisburg (9-10) in the championship. Baldwin, the defending state champion, has three players averaging double figures in Macey Frost (14.2), Kayla Kurtz (13.4) and Kate Ogle (10.6).

Perry-Lecompton boys — The Kaws (17-2, No. 6 in Class 3A) have a tougher road to state, simply because they have to win three games. Fortunately for PLHS, it has won 15 games in a row and gets to play all three games at home. Perry-Lecompton will need prolific play from Conner Morgison, Colton Mallonee, Connor Anderson and Blake Farmer to survive a bracket that features a pair of ranked teams in No. 4 Santa Fe Trail and No. 10 Silver Lake.

Sub-state runner-ups: (5) — Anything can happen once a team gets to the sub-state championship, and I think these five teams will make things interesting in their respective title game.

LHS girls — The Lions will be a difficult team to eliminate just based on their experience in the postseason. Multiple players have not only been to the state tournament in basketball, but contributed to state titles for volleyball and track in 2018. Lawrence center Chisom Ajekwu, a 6-foot-3 center, is a matchup nightmare for any team. Hannah Stewart is a savvy point guard. If Derby, the defending state champ, wasn’t in this sub-state bracket, I’d probably pick LHS.

FSHS girls — The Firebirds have shown this season that they are capable of playing with anyone if they are on. Caely Kesten, Shannon Clarke, Sam Lawrence and Haley Hippe are talented enough to carry FSHS to two wins over anyone. Still, playing both games in western Kansas is less than ideal.

Eudora girls — Eudora’s dynamic duo of Riley Hiebert and Reagan Hiebert has demonstrated the ability to post big performances. As the No. 5 seed, Eudora (No. 9 in Class 4A) would likely have to travel to No. 4 Labette County for the sub-state championship. Labette County ended the regular season with a loss to Parson, but still went 16-4 on the year.

Bishop Seabury boys — In order to return to the Class 2A state tournament, the Seahawks (No. 10 in Class 2A) would have to win three games, including two at Pleasanton this weekend. Bishop Seabury has won six of its last seven games thanks to the play of Zach Bloch, Stavian Jones and Miles Branch down the stretch. This is a talented young team that could make some serious noise if it is clicking this week.

FSHS boys — Senior Noah Butler is the only player from last year’s team that played in the first state championship game in program history. That being said, junior DK Middleton and freshman point guard Mozae Downing have both played very well this season for the Firebirds. If both teams win, a sub-state championship between Free State (No. 10 in Class 6A) and Topeka High (No. 4 in Class 6A) in The Dungeon would be a must-watch game.


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