Pirates football team leads the way in awards

Eight different Piper Pirates football players earned awards at last weekend's KCK Preps Awards Presentation. Head coach Chris Brindle and linebacker Colton Beebe took home two of the top three awards.

PHOTOS: KCK Preps Awards ceremony

Check out some photos from last weekend's awards show at The Legends Theatre in KCK!

Prospect Profile: Tanner Eikenbary (Piper)

Here's a look at Piper Pirates quarterback Tanner Eikenbary.

KCK Preps Prospect: Kendall Short, Mill Valley

Despite missing nearly half the season, Mill Valley Jaguars running back Kendall Short finished with over 700 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.

Saluting two special senior classes: Sumner Academy, Basehor’s dominance of 4A basketball



By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

Since 2009, the 4A state championship has been shared by Sumner Academy and Basehor-Linwood High School.

Basehor won their first title in 2009. Sumner Academy won back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011. Basehor won the title this season.

The four titles between the two teams made me do some research on the senior classes.

This year’s senior class for Sumner Academy, led by Benny Parker, Vernon Vaughn and Marcus Allen, were 86-13 as a class in basketball. The Sabres won three Kansas City Kansas League titles during their run and of course, won the two state titles.

Basehor’s class, led by Ryan Murphy, Colin Murphy and Brad Waterman, won 83 games and lost just 14. They also won three league titles and those two state championships.

When you combine the records, the Sumner Academy and Basehor seniors had a 169-27 record on the court, won six league championships and won four state titles. Winning percentage wise, the two senior classes combined won 86.2 percent of their games.

The two senior classes combined for a 12-1 record in Salina as well.

That’s dominance.

It should also be noted Sumner Academy had to beat Basehor to even get to state to win their two trophies. It’s fitting both senior classes won big.

They each had their stars – Sumner with Benny Parker and Basehor with the Murphy Twins – and both had role players.

Both senior classes are filled with incredible human beings who put their teammates and other individuals above themselves when it comes to accomplishments on the court. It’s no wonder how successful the basketball programs have been.

Knowing people at both Sumner Academy and Basehor, this is a healthy rivalry where the players respect each other, as well as the parents.

Dennis Murphy, the uncle of the Murphy Twins, sent me an email wondering about the condition of Vernon Vaughn when he got injured. On Twitter Saturday night, I saw Vaughn congratulate Ben Johnson and other players from the Bobcats.

Johnson’s father congratulated David Brox on Vaughn’s signing shortly after it happened.

These two schools respect each other and both have won big.

Congratulations to both schools on incredible accomplishments the past four years.

Outside of Perry Ellis and Wichita Heights’ run, the dominance displayed at both schools is almost unmatched state-wide.

How Basehor did it: Five thoughts and additional notes on the Bobcats' state title


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

Having covered Basehor-Linwood from the beginning of the season, I was able to get a grasp of how a championship team is built and how it evolves as a team over the year.

Early on, it was easy to see this Basehor-Linwood team going places. Colin Murphy, Ryan Murphy and Ben Johnson were one of the true great front-lines in high school basketball this year in the state. Basehor had a championship-winning coach in Mike McBride who coached Basehor to a title in 2009.

Looking back on this year's team, there were distinguishable reasons why this club went all the way.

Here are some thoughts on how it happened and other notes about the season for the Bobcats. 

1. Chase Younger and J.P. Downing grew up during the course of the year.

This can be said of the entire team, but both Younger and Downing were sophomores and both started all week in the state tournament in Salina. Early on, both were very shaky to begin the season. I saw a little fear in their eyes during the Sumner Academy game when the Sabres started pressing some and started to make their comeback.

In a tough, emotional game against Bonner Springs in sub-state, you could see how much they had matured. Younger was outstanding in the state title game, hitting four three-pointers and leading all of Basehor's scorers with 18 points. Downing hit some clutch free throws against Topeka-Hayden and hit some key shots down the stretch for Basehor.

Younger and Downing, along with junior Ben Johnson, makes Basehor one of the top five or six teams in 4A entering next season. A lot of people think Basehor is done now that the Murphy Twins are set for graduation. I don't think so. They may not reel off 83 wins in four years like they did, but Basehor was a winning program before Colin and Ryan arrived.

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2. Whenever Basehor's backs were against the wall, they responded and maintained their poise in tough stretches. 

This was especially true in the tournament. They came back from 11 points down against Pratt in the second half and 10 points down against Wichita-Collegiate in the first half. Though they didn't play great basketball in either first half, Basehor didn't meltdown or fold. They responded with great come backs and played smart basketball. They may have made mistakes in the game, but they never panicked.

Even as Ottawa was making their charge in the second half, Younger made some great shots. The Murphy Twins made some good plays on defense and Basehor responded just enough to win. An underrated "overcoming the odds" moment was against Bonner Springs in sub-state. Bonner Springs' defense was able to do some damage early on against Basehor and the Braves were up 8 in the game. Basehor responded in the second half and showed great maturity.

It was after the Bonner Springs game that my friend Derrick Estelle, the head coach of West Middle School, told me that Basehor was going to win state because of the maturity and composure they displayed after having everything go against them in the first half. I thought he was a little crazy immediately crowning Basehor the champions, but he was right.

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3. Basehor losing last year to Sumner Academy prepared them for this season. 

This is not an effort to praise my alma mater just for the sakes of praising it. Having talked to McBride during the year, last year's loss to Sumner Academy in the sub-state finals motivated him and it improved the mindset of the Twins. The loss motivated the Twins to get better and motivated McBride to work harder on the sidelines, as if that was possible.

The beauty of sports - or frustration of it - is you must sometimes experience heartbreak and disappointment before you experience the golden accomplishments. The loss to Sumner Academy was devastating for last year's group, but without that loss, I'm not sure Basehor wins the title this year. Losing to Sumner Academy put a chip on the shoulders of the Twins and it made them work harder - a lot harder.

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4. Basehor took the tough road to the title.

The last five opponents for Basehor-Linwood this season were a combined 104-12 entering their games with the Bobcats. Bonner Springs (16-5), Topeka-Hayden (19-3), Wichita-Collegiate (20-3), Pratt (24-0) and Ottawa (24-1) all stood in the way of Basehor's championship run. Basehor passed each test beautifully. They did not sneak up on anyone. They did not have the fortunate breaks of a bracket falling apart. Each and every time, the toughest road-block was there. Basehor cleared it.

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5. The Murphy Twins and Ben Johnson played unselfish basketball and their unselfishness allowed the team to grow confidence.

Colin and Ryan Murphy are guys who could score 23 to 24 points a game easily. They did so a lot in the games this year. However, stats were not important to them or the rest of their teammates. Whatever needed to be done to win games, each and every player in the rotation stepped up.

Let's look at Colin's week at state. He struggled from the field percentage wise. However, he guarded Pratt's Mikah Swank really well and more often than not, he drew the toughest defensive challenge all year. Playing tough defense wears you down. It makes jump shots harder to hit. Murphy sacrificed stats for a title.

Ben Johnson is probably someone who could have averaged 17 or 18 points this season. Instead, Johnson knew that he had to play defense and grab rebounds in order for Basehor to win a title. He did just that, grabbing 10 rebounds in a victory against Pratt. It's fitting Johnson had the game-winning basket in the final against Ottawa. Johnson became a bruiser when he could have just settled for jump shots.

Younger, Brad Waterman, Tanner Garver and Downing all benefited from the Big 3 deferring to them during the season. Younger grew significant confidence - enough to hit four three-pointers in the state title game. Garver had a good state tournament and he scored some valuable points for the Bobcats. Waterman was absolutely the unsung hero for the Bobcats. Without him, Bonner Springs wins the sub-state game. Waterman's two jumpers from the corner helped Basehor build a big lead against Ottawa. It seemed like Waterman made two big shots in each postseason game. Downing played tough defense and he hit some shots after growing confidence.

Point is, had the Murphy Twins been interested in scoring over 20 points a game each night, Basehor doesn't win the title. They are the glue to the Bobcats and everyone improved because of them. Not caring for stats allowed the other players to step up and fill the void if either Murphy Twin had a below average performance.

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Additional thoughts:
  • It's time for Mike McBride to be considered among the best coaches in the metro area. He's on some radars, but not enough of them. After losing three games this season, McBride put together good game-plans to help his team avenge all of them. Those five points mentioned above came true directly due to McBride's ability as a coach and court general. He's an excellent coach. Prior to McBride arriving, Basehor-Linwood was 46-126 in eight seasons. In the past six years, McBride has guided Basehor to an 117-24 record with two state championships. McBride had better win some coach of the year awards in the metro this year. He's literally taken Basehor from worst to first and he's won two titles. 
  • Speaking of McBride, I found it fascinating how he was as far away from the championship trophy as possible. In many of the team photos that were taken with the trophy, McBride was not in many of them. I saw several of them pop up from Basehor fans on Twitter and Facebook and outside of the first trophy presentation on the court and one in front of the KSHSAA banner off of it, he was not in them. Perhaps he felt it was just a players' accomplishment, but I found it interesting.
  • As they entered city boundaries following their trip home, police officers in Basehor actually gave the Bobcats' team vehicles a police escort to Basehor-Linwood High School. That's pretty cool.
  • A handful of businesses and churches in Basehor-Linwood had put up lettering in their signs congratulating the Bobcats team on winning the title. This was just a few hours afterwards. Having been born in a big city, I will always respect the passion small towns and communities show for their athletes and teams.

McBride, Twins react to second title

By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

Both Basehor-Linwood head coach Mike McBride and the Murphy Twins (and senior class) will be able to claim two state titles on their resumes now.

Which one was better?

For McBride, the answer was easy.

“This one was a lot more exciting,” McBride said. “We put a lot more work into this one. We had an X on our back. The first time was really unexpected and under the radar.”

In 2009, Basehor-Linwood snuck up on the field that included a loaded Topeka-Hayden team, a very good Girard team and a Sumner Academy team led by Neil Watson, Reese Holliday, Davonte Chaney and Benny Parker.

This year, Basehor entered the tournament as one of the favorites after knocking off Bonner Springs and Topeka-Hayden in the sub-state regional.

“We beat Bonner Springs in a very emotional game,” McBride said. “We snapped Topeka-Hayden’s streak. Wichita-Collegiate is used to playing in state tournaments and Pratt was undefeated and had one of the best guards in Kansas. Of course, Ottawa had Semi (Ojeleye) and he can do anything."

The last five opponents Basehor-Linwood defeated had a combined record of 103-12 entering their respective games with Basehor. At the state tournament, Basehor played three teams with a combined four losses.

For the Murphy Twins, they leave Basehor-Linwood High School after achieving an 83-14 record and two state titles in basketball. Averaging almost 21 wins a season is never a bad thing.

“Going out on top really means a lot,” Ryan Murphy said. “We wanted to win this one for Basehor, the fans and city who supported us."

“It’s the best way to go out,” said Colin.

For McBride, the twins going out on top is special, too.

“On the personal side, they are great kids,” McBride said. “They had unrealistic expectations coming into high school. For them to put it together is great.”

It was not a statistical fun-fare like they’ve had throughout the season, but both Twins got the job done when it mattered.

Colin Murphy helped shut down Mikah Swank, holding him to just 6-of-21 from the field. Swank, the great guard from Pratt, had scored 41 points the night before.

Ryan Murphy almost averaged a double-double and hit some big shots in Basehor’s comebacks against Pratt and Wichita Collegiate.

Colin Murphy was 10-of-10 from the free throw line against Collegiate to help the Bobcats comeback from a nine-point deficit.

Harmon falls one step short after late 10-1 run by Kapaun

By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

For the second year in a row, a Kansas City, Kan., team found heart-break in the championship round of the Kansas 5A state tournament.

Midnight struck for the Harmon Hawks and their magical run this March, as Kapaun defeated Harmon 68-57 in Topeka, Kan., Saturday evening.

Both teams started off slowly and it was clear butterflies were there.

Only two Jordan Horn free throws were scored in the first 2:18 of the game. Kapaun did not get on the board until Jack Martin hit a shot to tie the game at 2-2.

From there, it was really game on.

There were five lead changes and two ties in the quarter alone, which ended up with Kapaun on top at 11-9. Both teams shot just 25 percent from the field in the quarter.

Scoring began picking up in the game at the 6:55 mark of the second quarter. There were eight baskets during a two-minute stretch. Kapaun was able to build a six-point lead during the offensive blitzkrieg. Two straight baskets from Branden Roark cut that lead down to two points.

With the game 22-20 in Kapaun’s favor, the Crusaders went on a 13-6 run to close the half with a 35-28 halftime lead. Michael Martin’s three-pointer was the key shot during the run.

Both teams burned the nets down in the second quarter, with both shooting over 60 percent from the field. In the second half, Kapaun felt in control of the game, but Harmon never quite went away.

The Crusaders built a nine-point lead early in the third quarter, only to see Harmon chip the lead down to four. Devontae Newton hit two baskets during the run and Branden Roark hit a three-pointer that brought the Kapaun lead down to 40-36.

Two free throws from Sheldon Carson cut the deficit down to three.

During the fourth quarter, a Newton field goal tied the game at 47 and another field goal from Newton tied the game again at 51.

Kapaun would not be denied.

The Crusaders would out-score Harmon 17-6 the rest of the way. A Nick Cook three-pointer gave Kapaun the lead for good. Newton made a shot at 2:53 to cut the lead down to 58-56.

That’s as close as it got.

Kapaun scored on three straight possessions to push their advantage to eight points. Late free throws sealed the deal for the Crusaders.

In his final game as a Hawk, Roark struggled at times. He was just 6-of-19 from the field, including missing on eight three-point attempts. Roark also committed a technical foul and turned the ball over six times.

Harmon was led by Mike Carson’s 19 points. Newton stepped up and had 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Overall, Harmon out-rebounded Kapaun 40-37 and actually out-shot Kapaun from inside the three-point line.

It was not quite enough.

Harmon finishes the season 15-10.