The 35th Annual HDN All-Area Basketball Teams
6-2, Sr., G/F, Ness City
Though he missed nine games, Colin Foos, an inside-out threat still managed to put up a team-high 317 points, and helped Ness City back to the Class 2A state tournament for the third time in three tries under coach Matt Overlease.
The Eagles finished 17-9 and won a game at state for the first time in those three tries, and ended up taking fourth after back-to-back losses.
Foos averaged 18 points a game, but missed some time with an ankle injury. He was back in time for the sub-state at Plainville, helping Ness City knock off three higher seeds en route to Manhattan. At 6-foot-2, Foos averaged 6.3 rebounds and one assist per contest.
In Ness City's first-round 53-48 upset of second-seeded Lyndon at state, Foos scored 11 points. In the Eagles' two previous trips to state, Ness City had lost close first-round games (six points combined).
"It's great," Foos said after the win. "There is no other way to describe it. Coming here and getting beat here in the first game for two years in a row, it sags you down."
In the semifinals, Ness City fell 51-37 to Belleville-Republic County. Foos had 17 points in the game, then exploded in the final day for 33 points, but Ness City fell 3-points shy of Moundridge, 71-68.
6-4 Jr., G/F, Plainville
Plainville coach Lonnie Weiser, a veteran of more than 20 decades of coaching high school sports, observed the Cardinal basketball team the previous two winters. This year, Weiser took over the team when Plainville needed a coach. He returned just two players that saw significant minutes: his son, Nolan, the lone returning starter; and junior Hadley Gillum, last winter's sixth man.
Coach Weiser discovered quickly he could often let Nolan and Gillum freelance and run the team.
"Just kind of making things happen," coach Weiser said.
The result was a surprising 15-6 season. Gillum averaged 18.3 points, 14 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game, 2.7 blocks and shot 50 percent from the field. Weiser collected 15.4 points per game; the pair combined for 62 percent of the team's scoring.
"Sometimes me and just Nolan just improvised," Gillum said.
Coach Weiser called Plainville "a completely different team" when Gillum wasn't on the floor. Plainville was 7-2 when Gillum scored at least 20 points and 0-3 when the junior finished with single figure rebounds. Gillum sometimes looked tired in games, but managed to play five positions if needed.
"He is a big kid and he takes up a lot of room under there, and then he could jump, too," Coach Weiser said.
6-3 Sr., F, Weskan
Even coaches who didn't coach against McKinney put the 6-foot-3 senior from Weskan on their list of the area's top players. McKinney was a true matchup threat to any team the Coyotes went up against, and it showed in his numbers
An inside-out threat, McKinney put up 18 points per game for 15-6 Weskan, which was eliminated in the semifinals of the Class 1A Division II sub-state by eventual state qualifier Sharon Springs-Wallace County.
He scored 20 or more points six times, and had posted nine double-doubles. He averaged 9.5 boards per contest. He was Weskan's only big man, and held his own against several of the area's best big men, including Stockton's Justin Wiltfong (6-foot-4) and Jaden Williams (6-foot-5). In that game, a 58-52 Stockton win, McKinney put up 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
McKinney stepped up against Weskan's toughest opponents, such as Wallace County, but the Coyotes came up short on both occasions. In the first meeting with the Wildcats, who later won their first state tournament game in program history, McKinney posted 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 68-61 loss. Then in the sub-state semifinal rematch, he notched another stellar double-double with 29 points and 15 boards in a 79-55 loss. He also had eight blocked shots in one of those meetings.
6-2 Jr., PG, Hoxie
Last year, Kade Spresser delivered a strong sophomore season on a Hoxie team that took third in Class 1A, Division I. Spresser finished as the Indians' second-leading scorer behind Jaxsen Moss, a first team all-area player, and averaged 13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
This year, Hoxie had just one senior, Cameron Nelson, a little-used reserve, and graduated Moss and Luke Friess, a multi-year starter. Spresser, despite missing three early season games when he tore three ligaments in his ankle, finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists a contest. Spresser, the team's third-tallest player at 6-foot-1, sometimes had to play inside after he mainly played a guard last year.
Still, Spresser and his good friend, junior guard Chase Kennedy, helped Hoxie collect a 20-4 record and return to the Class 1A, Division I state tournament where it lost to Stockton in the first round. Kennedy averaged 17 points per contest. Spresser finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds in the state game against Stockton. No other Indian had more than five points.
"We can kind of read each other's mind out on the court," Spresser said. "It's kind of funny how we do it. Me and him both know that we are thinking the same thing out on the court. We push each other, we push our teammates, and they respect us for that."
6-5 Soph., C, Hays High
Hays High School center Brady Werth made a significant jump from his freshman to sophomore season.
As a freshman, he started some of the season, but he averaged 6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. As a sophomore, he became Hays High's top option and averaged 14.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. He also bumped up his shooting percentage from 46.8 as a freshman to 59.8.
He still has plenty of room to grow as a player.
"He got a lot of attention as a freshman. You could tell he was going to be a good player. This year, he's had some really good nights, but he's still young. He's gotten stronger, and he'll keep getting stronger," Indian coach Rick Keltner said.
Werth worked hard in the off-season between those two years, going to camps and playing on MAYB team called Mid Kansas. It was with Mid Kansas he got his first taste of being the go-to player.
It carried over.
Werth, the WAC Player of the Year, served as Hays High's focal point on offense, more than doubling the points total of the Indians' next best scorer. He scored 20 or more points five times and recorded four double-doubles.
"To be a good team, you've got to have a post presence," Keltner said. "He's a guy that will give us some of that."
Partly due to his strong sub-state performance, the Indians broke a 10-year state appearance drought, defeating Great Bend and Liberal by 38 combined points to make it to the Class 5A state tournament.
Name Year School
Colin Foos Sr. Ness City
*Hadley Gillum Jr. Plainville
Sam McKinney Sr. Weskan
Kade Spresser Jr. Hoxie
Brady Werth Soph. Hays High
Name Year School
Kip Keeley Sr. La Crosse
Josh Keltz Sr. Cheylin
Eli Kuhlman Sr. Wallace County
Sean Newlan Sr. Phillipsburg
Clayton Riedel Jr. Trego
Name Year School
Jacob Brooks Sr. Norton
Shane Jones Jr. Hill City
Chase Kennedy Jr. Hoxie
Stephen Llewellyn Sr. Oakley
Justin Wiltfong Soph. Stockton
Lane Clark, jr., Hays High; Austin Baalman, jr., Oakley; Jaden Williams, soph., Stockton; Koby Beougher, sr., Stockton; Dalton Gantz, sr., Ness City; Nolan Weiser, sr., Plainville; Jordan Gottschalk, jr., TMP; Payton Buckmaster, sr., Smith Center; Gavin Mote, sr., Wallace County; Seth Derr, sr., Phillipsburg; Philip Murphy, sr., Natoma; Dylan Wissman, sr., Otis-Bison; Chase Newell, sr., Palco; Tyler Walters, sr., Ellis.
5-10, Sr., F, Russell
Committed to Iowa Western Community College, Beagley was one focal point on a Russell team that accomplished something no Bronco squad had accomplished in nearly 30 years -- a state tournament appearance.
Beagley, at 5-foot-10, averaged 16.3 points, 6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game during the regular season.
In Russell's first state trip since 1974, Beagley put up 17 points as Russell knocked off third-seeded Caney Valley, 50-42. Caney Valley had only one previous loss. Beagley was contained to 11 points in a semifinal loss to Garden Plain, but bounced back to end her career with 20 points in the third-place game against perennial 3A power Hillsboro, a 59-44 loss.
"Just to make it to state was amazing. I'm thankful that I had a chance to play with these girls and for coach (Frank Schulte)," Beagley said after the fourth-place loss. " The outcome here wasn't what we hoped for, but still we're very proud of what we've done."
Beagley, one of three seniors, was at the center of rebuilding the program. Shulte, in his fourth year as the varsity head coach, saw his team go from a winless program a few years back to 15, 14 and 19 wins the past three seasons.
5-9, Sr., G, Smith Center
Smith Center head coach Nick Linn might have described point guard Sydney Benoit best: "She is a gamer."
Benoit was the top player on Class 2A's best team, averaging 19 points, nine rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.7 assists per game and leading the Lady Red to a 24-2 record.
Benoit isn't a flashy player, but she produces results.
"She does it quietly, and she is very consistent," Linn said.
Benoit provided historic performances for the Lady Red. She averaged 24 points and nine rebounds at the state tournament and was a primary reason why they netted their first state basketball title in school history.
"I don't think it's really sank in yet," Benoit said a week and a half after winning the state title.
Benoit, who has played varsity since her freshman year, has assumed a larger role on the squad each year. By her senior year, Benoit had to carry much of the weight on her shoulders, especially in crunch time.
Benoit admitted being nervous during state. After all, she didn't want to end on a loss, but she didn't let it affect her.
Smith Center had leads late in the game in all three contests, and each time, Linn made sure the ball was in Benoit's hands.
She finished the tournament, making 26 of 34 free throws. In the semifinal, she tied the 2A state tournament record for free throws made in a game with a 15-of-21 day.
The squad heavily utilized its starters with a shallow bench, and injuries further depleted that depth. However, Benoit said her confidence never wavered.
"I never thought we couldn't do it," Benoit said. "I was just hoping we could."
5-10, Jr., F, Oakley
Just a junior, Dennis already owns a school record for perennial Class 2A contender Oakley. Opposing teams couldn't keep her off the free throw line, and she repsonded by shooting 87 percent from the stripe, a new Plainsmen record.
At 5-foot-10, Dennis could play anywhere on the floor. She finished inside, and could shoot the 3-pointer. A 52-percent field goal shooter, Dennis averaged 19 points and nine rebounds per contest.
"Offensively, she could score inside and outside," Oakley coach Randall Rath said. "She made it hard for people to guard her.
"She really did a good job finishing inside when we got her the ball."
Dennis' production inside also made other players better, and vice versa. Teammate Marlee Rath also set a school record, averaging 6.4 assists per contest.
"We had girls that could shoot the 3 as well, and that made (Dennis) more effective."
Dennis was the top vote-getter on the all-NWKL first-team. When teams had a slight advantage inside, Dennis went outside, and she had a mismatch if teams tried to cover her with a smaller guard.
"She's good off the dribble, too," Rath said. "She drew the best defender pretty much every game."
5-9, Fresh., G/F, Ellis
Coach Perry Mick and the Ellis High School fan base knew freshman Alexcia Deutscher was a prodigious talent in three sports. She excelled in volleyball, basketball and track at the junior high level and then collected second team all-league honors in volleyball this fall. In basketball, coach Perry Mick expected Deutscher to start.
"I knew she would be a good player," Mick said.
Instead, Deutscher surprised even her coach. Deutscher consistently tallied double-doubles and helped Ellis collect the Mid-Continent League tournament championship and finish 20-3. The Railers tied the school record for victories and had an 11-win improvement from last year. After a sub-state final loss to Smith Center -- the eventual state champion -- Mick said he was pleased with the year.
Deutscher ran Ellis' fast break well and often grabbed a rebound, quickly dribbled down the floor and scored instead of making an outlet pass.
Deutscher averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and four steals a game and finished second in the MCL voting behind Smith Center's Sydney Benoit, the HDN Player of the Year.
5-7, Soph., PG, Hoxie
When it comes to Hoxie basketball as of late, it's really a coin flip to see which player will stand out on any given night. Through a dominant run in the regular season, and an even more impressive undefeated run to its second straight state championship, Hoxie had four players average in double figures.
Heim put up a big game to seal the deal on a 26-0 state title for the Indians, their second straight title in Class 1A Division I.
Heim, who averaged 10.7 points in the regular season while seeing minimal time because of blowout wins, scored 21 points in a 68-63 win against fellow perennial contender Olpe in the title game at Emporia. She ended the season averaging 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.7 steals per game.
Heim, who Hoxie coach Shelly Hoyt labeled the best point guard in 1A, heated up from 3-point range in the second half of the title game, helping thwart off a comeback for the Eagles. She finished the game with three 3-pointers, and also had 11 rebounds to lead the way. In Hoxie's semifinal win against St. John, a rematch of last season's state championship, Heim led Hoxie with 13 points.
Heim, a two-year starter, was one of three Indians named to the Northwest Kansas League first team, along with juniors Kristina Farber and Gabi Spresser.
Name Year School
Madison Beagley Sr. Russell
*Sydney Benoit Sr. Smith Center
Laura Dennis Jr Oakley
Alexcia Deutscher Fresh. Ellis
Carly Heim Soph. Hoxie
Name Year School
Danica Casey Sr. Natoma
Jordan Christensen Jr.. Golden Plains
Kristina Farber Jr. Hoxie
Heather Ruder Sr. TMP-Marian
Katelyn Schumacher Sr. Hays High
Name Year School
Mattison Dusin Jr. Phillipsburg
Bailey Hensley Sr. Ellis
Kristin Huser Jr. Victoria
Shayna Rogge Soph. Tri-Brewster
Gabi Spresser Jr. Hoxie
Brittany Kirchhoff, sr., Thunder Ridge; Fallyn Handley, jr., Palco; Brooke Flax, sr., Quinter; Kristin Berger, fresh., Thunder Ridge; Regan Casey, fresh., Natoma; Taylor Herman, sr., Hays High; Tawni Griffey, sr., Norton; Jessica Princ, jr., Osborne; Trenna Cox, sr., Smith Center; Brittany Plummer, jr., Triplains-Brewster; Rachael Kuhlman, soph., Wallace County; Colbie Decker, sr., Smith Center; Caitlyn Miller, jr., Osborne.