With Class 1A having wrapped up its regular season and the other classes concluding their regular seasons this week, there are still 13 undefeated teams left in Kansas.
Only one school, however, can boast two.
The Central Plains boys and girls each completed undefeated regular seasons last Friday with a sweep of Kinsley. The Oilers head into this week’s 1A regionals with identical 20-0 records.
But how they got there was anything but identical.
For the Central Plains boys, balance has been the key to a dominant season in which they’ve had only four games decided by less than 20 points — the closest victory a 42-31 win over rival St. John in mid-January.
Four Oilers average between 8.1 and 16.5 points per game with Brett Liebl leading the way at 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a contest. Devin Ryan adds 14.1 points per game, Alex Hickel is at 13 points per game and Myles Menges chips in 8.1 points and 7 rebounds per game.
“Balance on both end of the court and team chemistry have been the instruments of our success,” Oilers boys coach Brett Rolfs said. “All of them are willing and able when their number is called. Finishing the regular season undefeated is an amazing accomplishment for these young men as we faced many good teams.”
As good as the Central Plains boys have been, the Oiler girls have been even more dominant. A 26-point win over St. John in December is their closest game and Central Plains’ average margin of victory this season is 51 points per game.
Unlike the boys, Central Plains has a bonafide superstar. All-Stater Emily Ryan became just the third girl in Kansas history to reach 2,000 career points during her junior season, joining Claflin’s Jackie Stiles and Moundridge’s Laurie Koehn.
Ryan averages 30.1 points, six assists and 5.5 steals per game. But Oilers’ coach Pat Stiles is quick to note his team is far from a one-woman show.
“Emily’s stats only tell part of the story,” Stiles said. “Her leadership qualities are well beyond her years. She is surrounded by awesome girls, they all play the right way and have created a team atmosphere where they love playing with each other and truly play for each other.”
Central Plains is steamrolling toward a sixth straight state championship and enter regional play with 104 straight wins, just three shy of tying Hoxie’s state record of 107 straight. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Oiler girls are 149-1.
Both Central Plains naturally retain the No. 1 rankings in Class 2A.
Three of last week’s No 1s, however, tumbled from their top spots after losses last week.
In girls’ Class 3A, Nemaha Central fell from No. 1 to No. 2 after a 57-43 loss to Big Seven League rival Jefferson West. Cheney took over the top spot in a class loaded with legitimate title contenders.
Garden Plain’s girls fell in overtime to Wichita Trinity and dropped from No. 1 to No. 3. Jefferson North takes over at No. 1 followed by Wabaunsee at No. 2.
In boys’ 3A, Santa Fe Trail lost on a half-court shot at the buzzer by Burlington’s Jace Watkins, falling 60-57. The Chargers slip to No. 3 in 3A with Beloit moving up to No. 1 and Maur Hill, the lone unbeaten in the class, moving to No. 2.