Everyone is back in the swing of things as the first full week of January arrives, and there were two city-vs-city games that highlighted last night’s action. Let’s take a look back…
-In my 10-plus years of covering high school basketball, I have never seen a girls basketball game quite like the one that took place between 6A #6 Topeka High and 5A #7 Highland Park at The Pressure Cooker last night. Defense was fully optional as the two teams showed off their offensive prowess. The Lady Trojans ended up with a 94-77 victory because for the balance of the night the Lady Scots did not have enough size to match up with Topeka High’s big lineup with both Jaryn Benning and NiJaree Canady on the floor. Canady finished the night with 25 points to lead the Lady Trojans and showed her full skill set on both ends, rebounding and blocking shots on defense, leading the break and going coast to coast on the dribble, and finishing with a soft touch around the basket. Benning chipped in with 22 points as she and Canady feasted on offensive rebound opportunities. Without Jae’Mya Lyons, who is close to a return for the Lady Scots, Highland Park didn’t have enough size to deal with both Lady Trojan bigs at once, though TiaLah Taylor put forward a game effort on both ends and scored 16 points of her own on post touches. Ariyana Grassity was the scoring star for the Lady Scots, pouring in 32 points on the night and showing off both her shooting range and her ability to finish drives at the rim. Neither coach will be thrilled with the defensive effort on display, but the flip side is that both teams showed off the variety of ways they can score which will make them dangerous as the season rolls on. It was a frenetic, and fun, game to watch.
The 6A #8 Trojan boys pulled out a 58-48 win over Highland Park in the nightcap, but it was tough sledding for Topeka High all night. They struggled mightily from behind the arc against a Highland Park zone that gave them plenty of open looks. But when High got the ball inside to King Sutton, the Scots had no answers. Sutton had nine first-quarter points to help the Trojans take the lead and added eight more of his 21 total points in the fourth quarter to close the game out. He also combined with Grant Cooney, Kee’Andre Smith and DaVonshai Harden to defend the rim and make it tough for the Scots to get easy buckets. Juan’Tario Roberts scored 19 points and CJ Powell added 17 for Highland Park in the loss. The effort and commitment on both ends is certainly there for the Scots, and in players like Roberts, Powell and Jahi Peppers, the pieces are in place for future success. But Topeka High’s experience and physical maturity really showed over the course of the 32 minutes, and a 10-0 4th quarter run finally put the pesky Scots away.
-Last night’s boys basketball game between Hayden and Topeka West at the Chargerdome was, shall we say, less contentious than the last one, but the same result will go into the book – a Hayden victory. The 4A #9 Wildcats pulled away for a 67-58 win, and for the best shooting team in the city, the three-ball was the key once again. Hayden made eight threes in the victory, with five coming from sophomore Jack Hutchinson, who has quickly shown that he deserves the same ‘DO NOT LEAVE OPEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES’ distinction as his teammate Levi Braun. Braun led the city in three-point shooting last season, but he showed how much his game has grown in scoring 27 points with the benefit of only one made three. Korbin Kido scored 16 to lead the Chargers, but the Wildcats iced the game at the free throw line and never allowed West to make a final run in the late stages. Hayden has won three straight heading into what should be a fun matchup with Seaman Friday night at The Ken.
In the girls game, Hayden got off the schneid for the season with a 48-42 triumph. The Lady Chargers led by a point at halftime but the tide turned in the second half, with the Lady Wildcats winning the second 16 minutes by a 29-22 margin. The fourth quarter in particular belonged to Hayden, who stretched a three point lead out to 12 and held West scoreless for nearly six minutes to start the period. Hayden got the dominant game they needed from Brooklyn Hunter, who scored 20 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. Topeka West got 16 points from Miyah Larson but never quite got their post offense on track as the Lady Wildcats tightened up their paint defense.
-In other action last night: the dynamic duo of Trey Duffey and Kobe Bonner combined for 48 points in a 73-59 Seaman victory over Junction City, with Bonner’s 27 points leading all scorers and a personal 7-0 run from the senior point guard finishing off the third quarter to open up breathing room for the 5A #9 Vikings… like the boys, the Seaman girls have also won five straight games, with Megan Skoch stepping up for some injured players and dropping in 19 points in a 66-23 rout of the Lady Blue Jays… 5A #7 Shawnee Heights’ perfect record in the United Kansas Conference is no more after they were unable to recover from a slow start and got rolled on the road by 5A #8 Basehor-Linwood 74-47.. the Lady T-Birds lost a tough one 49-42 to Basehor-Linwood despite 19 points from Alie Fulks.