Category Archives: KSHSAA

Kansas spreading them very far and very wide

The Kansas State High School Activities Association determined its nine football state champions at eight different locations today. Silly. Just silly.
If KSHSAA used half a brain, it could easily get it down to three, which is still not ideal (ONE site is ideal), but three is a hell of a lot better than eight.
Hold 6-man and both 8-man divisions at one location, then three 11-man title games at two others. Who goes where could be determined by the teams in the finals. I would prefer to see 5A and 6A, the two largest classifications, split up, so the rural folks from the smaller towns can see big-city teams and vice versa.

My alma mater, Brother Martin of New Orleans, has advanced to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Division I SELECT semifinals.
This is the tenth season the LHSAA has operated with “select” and “non-select” divisions to determine football champions.
What’s weird is the schools play in districts like usual during the regular season, but then they are split for the playoffs, with brackerts filled based upon power ratings.
From 2013-21, the “non-select” side was much larger. “Select” schools were basically private schools, whether they were religiously affiliated or not, and a few other laboratory and charter schools.
In the largest division for “select” schools, there were only two public schools, Shreveport Byrd and Baton Rouge Scotlandville, both of which have been magnet schools for a long time.
Prior to the 2022 season, the LHSAA drastically expanded what constitutes a select school. This moved over 100 schools from non-select to select.
The Crusaders go to Lafayette Friday to play Carencro, which produced LSU All-American and longtime Patriot Kevin Faulk, who won three Super Bowl rings under Darth Belichick.
Carencro was moved to the select division this season because Lafayette Parish (county) has open enrollment for its high schools. This also applies to public schools in Caddo (Shreveport) and Rapides (Alexandria) parishes, among others.
The LHSAA also chose to reduce the number of non-select divisions from five to four. This forced many schools which play in 4A during the regular season into the highest classification for the playoffs.
Monroe Neville was the most notable school affected. The Tigers were a powerhouse for 30 seasons (1963-92) under coach Charlie Brown (Neville won a fourth in 1995 under Brown’s successor, Joe Coates), winning three titles at the top level despite having an enrollment which would have allowed them to play at a lower level.
Neville dropped from 5A to 4A in 2001 after the rise of West Monroe, which won five titles between 1993 and 2000, as well as the continued strength shown by perennial powers Ouachita and Ruston.
Neville reached the quarterfinals of Division I non-select before losing 21-10 last night at New Iberia Westgate.
Brother Martin has not reached a championship game since 1989. Its only title was in 1971, when the Crusaders defeated Catholic League archirval St. Augustine 23-0.
The Crusaders and Neville played three dramatic playoff games in the space of 368 days in 1971 and ‘72. More on that later.

A terrible side effect of the split was select schools being forced to play championship games in a stadium other than the Superdome.
The LHSAA first staged all their championship games in the Superdome in 1981. Many large schools raised hell and demanded the title games return to campus because they were losing money, but the LHSAA stuck with it, and soon nobody was clamoring for the title games to leave the home of the Saints.
If it were up to me, I would prefer all games at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. But it is ONE site. Better than Kansas!
The championships were forced out of New Orleans in 2005 due to the catastrophic damage Hurricane Katrina wreaked upon the Superdome. They were moved to the opposite end of the state at Shreveport, but returned, along with the Saints, in 2006.
In the first year of the split, all nine championship games were held over three days at the Superdome. The next year, the select schools held their title games a week earlier than the non-select, and that continued through 2016 before all nine were returned to one weekend in 2017 and 2018.
In 2019, the LHSAA ruled the select schools had to find their own championship sites for football and basketball.
The smallest select division petitioned the LHSAA to play at the Superdome and was successful.
Sadly, the other three divisions were split between Tulane, UL Lafayaette, and worst, St. Thomas More High in Lafayette, marking the first title game in a high school stadium since 1980.
STM treated the game vs. New Orleans De La Salle as another home game, not as a true championship game. Terrible.
In 2020, COVID brought all schools back to one site, but it was shifted from the Superdome to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, 65 miles south of Shreveport.
Last year, one select class played at the Superdome, two at UL Lafayette and one at Tulane.
This year, all eight title games are at the Superdome Dec. 8-10. Will it stay that way? Who knows.

The KSHSAA doesn’t get it. It never will. It’s sad to stage the state’s most important games at facilities which host junior colleges, Division II colleges and only high schools.

The KSHSAA also gave us the scourge of high school football overtime. Therefore, we will never, ever see what Brother Martin went through in the space of 18 days during the 1972 playoffs.
In my next post, I’ll go back 50 years to three games on three fields against two opponents.

LSU is getting hammered by Texas A&M. So much for the College Football Playoff.

Trivia and tacos

Today’s trivia adventure comes from the Taco Bell at 1730 Vine Street in Hays, Kansas USA.

That’s right. I am a little under 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from The Golden Q, where I normally play trivia in Hays. If you read my blog post from last Wednesday, you know The Q is undergoing a massive renovation which has closed its kitchen until next Tuesday, and the air conditioning and televisions are not functioning.

Buzztime updated its app last week. The questions now appear on the screen with the answers. The only drawback is clues are not given for Lunchtime and Countdown, meaning it’s all or nothing, unless lightning strikes and you figure it out in the middle of the question. For Late Shift, the game which runs from 2200 to closing, and others like it, the wrong answers wipe out. The app still cannot handle the hour-long games Tuesday through Saturday meaning if I want to play SIX Wednesday and Thursday at 1930, I have to be somewhere, which means Salina this week.

I had to come to Hays today to get my eyeglasses adjusted. Dr. Jones did it herself. I also had to get the correct case, which wasn’t a big deal.

Nickole Byers in Ellis called me while I was driving to Hays. I called her back and she wanted information on tournaments for the upcoming school year in case we wanted to print programs for them. Therefore, I stopped at Taco Bell to work.

I decided I would see how far away Buzztime could pick up the signal from The Q so I could play.

It worked. I’m about ready to leave to go home because I am dead tired. I didn’t get a lick of sleep last night, and it wasn’t because anything was wrong; for some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep even after taking Seroquel. I think I’ll be in bed very early tonight, because I would like to wake up early tomorrow, go to Wichita to get my car cleaned, then come back to Salina for trivia and a haircut with Amber.


I understand why Wimbledon instituted a tiebreak in the deciding set of matches when the score reaches 12-12. The All-England Lawn Tennis Club does not want marathon matches such as 2010, when John Isner and Nicholas Mahut needed 138 games to decide the fifth set, with Isner prevailing 70-68.

That’s right. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT games. It took 11 plus hours over three days to complete.

Back to yesterday, when Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled for the gentelmen’s singles championship.

Federer choked away two match points in the fifth set. Lo and behold, it got to 12-12.

Djokovic won seven of the 10 points in the tiebreak and won his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam.

Djokovic also won the first and third sets by tiebreak after it was tied 6-6.

The 12-point tiebreak was introduced to Wimbledon in 1972. From 1972-78, the tiebreak was played in all sets EXCEPT the decisive set (third for ladies, fifth for gentlemen) when the score reached 8-8. It was pared down to 6-6 in 1979 and remained that way through 2018.

Through 1970, all sets had to be played out until one player had a two-game advantage. In 1971, an ill-conceived tiebreak was used; it was a maximum of nine points, period, meaning if it were 4-4, it was a sudden death set point.

I’m not a tennis fan. I haven’t followed the sport much since the heyday of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and later, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker.

If it were up to me, I would say no way to tiebreaks in all Grand Slam tournaments, at least in the decisive set. And for the championship match, it would be no tiebreaks, period.

This is akin to the four major golf tournaments eliminating the 18-hole playoff when two or more players were tied after 72 holes.

  • The U.S. Open was the last to eliminate the fifth round, going to a two-hole playoff starting in 2017; the last 18-hole playoff was at Torrey Pines in 2008, when Eldrick Woods defeated Roccco Mediate in 19 holes.
  • The last 18-hole playoff at The Masters was 1970 when Billy Casper defeated Gene Littler; Augusta National adopted sudden death in 1976, and it was first used in 1979. The Masters uses sudden death for one reason and one reason only: to make sure 60 Minutes is not delayed too long on CBS should the tournament run past 1900 ET (1800 CT). It’s the same reason why NFL games which kick off at 1505 or 1525 CT on CBS have fewer commercials than the 1200 CT kickoffs on CBS or all games on Fox and NBC.
  • The Open Championship last held an 18-hole playoff in 1975, when Tom Watson bested Jack Nicklaus at Carnoustie. The 18-hole playoff remained the tiebreak format for the Royal & Ancient through 1985; in 1986, it changed to a three-hole playoff, and later, four holes.
  • The PGA Championship eliminated the 18-hole playoff in the 1970s, first using sudden death, then changing to a three-hole playoff in the late 1990s.

Winning a major tournament in tennis and golf is supposed to be among the most difficult tasks in sports. Not to to detract from Djokovic’s thrilling victory on Centre Court, but if there weren’t tiebreaks, would the Serb win? Who knows?


That said, I am on the other side of the fence as far as overtime in gridiron football and hockey.

There should be no overtime, period, in the regular season in those sports. If a team cannot get the job done in 60 minutes, it doesn’t deserve another chance. Better to have ties factor into a record than some convoluted tiebreaker based upon net points in conference games (NFL) or “regulation and overtime wins” (NHL).

Football and hockey are physically draining sports. Bruises, sprains and other injuries are a way of life. Why expose the players to more risk when it’s not necessary?

College and high school football should do away with their stupid version of overtime, which was foisted upon us in 1971 by Brice Durbin, then the Executive Director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, and later Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The “Kansas playoff” is ridiculous. Starting from the 10-yard line slants the playing field so heavily in favor of the offense. Any team which can’t make three yards per play for four plays doesn’t deserve to win. Not allowing the defense to score on an interception or fumble is just as asinine. Why should the team which turned the ball over deserve a chance to stop the team forcing the turnover? If the defender runs 95 yards the other way, then that team deserves to win.

The NCAA version of overtime, also adopted by Missouri, Texas and other states, is little better. The 25 is still too close.

In 1972, my future high school, Brother Martin, played Monroe Neville to a scoreless tie in a state semifinal in New Orleans. At that time, the team which advanced was determined by first downs, and if that was tied, penetrations inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

That didn’t work for the Crusaders and Tigers, who each had nine first downs and one penetration. Louisiana High School Athletic Association director Frank Spruiell suggested the Kansas overtime to break the tie.

The coaches, Martin’s Bobby Conlin and Neville’s Charlie Brown, told Spruiell to jump in the Mississippi River. The Crusaders and Tigers got together four days later in Alexandria and played it over again. Neville won 8-0 and went on to defeat Bossier Airline three days later for the title at Monroe.

To be honest, first downs, penetrations and other statistics such as yardage, third down conversions and time of possessions are more appropriate ways to determine a victor than the Kansas playoff. The Kansas playoff is a crapshoot if there ever was one.


The last time I was in Kansas City, I watched nine innings of a Rays-Twins game in Minneapolis.

I missed the first nine innings driving from Hays to Kansas City.

Eighteen innings? Are you kidding me?

Major League Baseball should do what the Japanese Leagues do and limit games tied after nine to a maximum of three extra innings. If the game is still tied after 12, the statistics count, but the game is thrown out and doesn’t count.

Teams play 162 games a season. What would a few ties hurt? Not a darn thing.

What is the American aversion to draws in sports? There does not have to be a winner in everything.


I’m still at Taco Bell. That’s all for now…at least on the blog.

Pains in the neck–literally and otherwise

The right side of my neck was killing me much of yesterday. It hurt to turn to my right. I probably slept wrong Wednesday night.

I took aspirin and used heat massage (good move carrying the massager in my travel bags) before going to bed. It reduced the pain, but when I woke up at 0400 this morning, it hurt again. I wonder what it could be. I’ve never had problems with sleeping at the TownePlace Suites at Briarcliff in Kansas City.

I did not take Seroquel last night before going to bed. I was groggy much of yesterday before leaving the hotel. I might be taking it early tonight. It’s supposed to rain anywhere from 1 to 3 inches in Kansas City between 1800 tonight and 0900 tomorrow. I wanted to stay at Buffalo Wild Wings until at least 2030 to play trivia, but Mother Nature might make me change my plans.

My neck may hurt, but nowhere near how much they’re hurting in Jefferson City.

A violent tornado tore through Missouri’s capital late Wednesday night, causing much destruction. The state capitol building was spared, but many homes were levelled. It happened on the eight-year anniversary of the monster tornado in Joplin, 205 miles to the southwest, which killed more than 100. Imagine if one of those tornadoes tore through Kansas City or St. Louis.

Russell is very fortunate it has never experienced the types of tornadoes in Udall (1955), Topeka (1966), Hesston (1990), Andover (1991) or Greensburg (2007). Katrina was horrendous, but I got out of town 48 hours before the storm arrived. I doubt I would have 48 minutes if a tornado as strong as the one in Jefferson City, or even worse, the ones in Greensburg and Joplin, were barreling towards Russell (or Hays if I were there for something).

The Missouri State High School Activities Association had to move its track and field state championships for Classes 3, 4 and 5 to other sites. Classes 3 and 5 will simply move 30 miles north on US 63 to Columbia, with Class 3 at the University of Missouri and Class 5 at Battle High. Class 4, however, has to go to Washington, 50 miles west of St. Louis along the Missouri River. Tough break for schools from the western half of the state having to make that long drive. Classes 1 and 2 held their state meet last Friday and Saturday.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association holds its mass chaos of a state track and field meet this weekend in Wichita. For the fourth consecutive year, I won’t be there. Praise Jesus. I absolutely despised covering that event. It may be great for the fans, athletes and coaches, but for the media who have to cover it, it is hell. It was much worse for me because I was trying to cover athletes from different classifications, and events were all going on at once in all six classes on Saturday. It sucked. It really sucked.

The KSHSAA began its baseball and softball state tournaments yesterday. The KSHSAA continues to insist on eight teams in every state tournament in those sports. Four would be far more manageable.

Another bad thing about KSHSAA state tournaments in many sports is the continued insistence on playing a third place game. Yes, I understand the KSHSAA insists the third place games are a reward, but in many cases, the coaches and players see it as a chore, one they would rather not undertake. They are heartbroken from seeing their state championship dreams die, and winning a meaningless game isn’t going to make it go away.

It has rained each of the last four days. It will rain again today. The KSHSAA is trying to beat Mother Nature and get these tournaments in. They were mostly successful yesterday, except in Salina, where evening games in Class 4A were suspended until today.

That’s what makes what I am about to type beyond asinine.

The KSHSAA has rescheduled all third place games in baseball, and in softball in Classes 6A (Lawrence), 5A (Maize) and 3A (Emporia), to be played after the championship games. Two sites in softball, 4A in Salina and 2A in Pratt, are using two diamonds simultaneously, so teams in the third place games won’t have to wallow in their sorrows waiting around.


Third place games in baseball are a very, very, VERY bad idea. Many teams are out of pitching, and some pitchers can’t pitch, anyway, because the KSHSAA limits players to 105 pitches in any 72-hour period. They are a very bad idea in softball, too, although the underarm motion doesn’t cause quite the wear and tear.

It makes ZERO sense to play third place games after championship games. It’s bad enough the teams which lose in the semifinals have to stick around, sometimes on a very hot and humid day, to play a game for next to nothing (the winner gets a trophy, so there is technically something on the line). Now the KSHSAA is going to make the teams which lose in the semifinals sit for two hours or more and watch the championship game?

If I were coaching a team which loses a semifinal and then had to sit through the championship just to play a third place game, I would be livid. I would not want to subject my players to that humiliation.

Unfortunately, the KSHSAA holds the proverbial gun to the heads of its member school by threatening stiff penalties, including fines, suspensions, probation, and potential bans from future championships, for teams which forfeit a state tournament game. None have because of these threats. Administrators and coaches should be lauded for not exposing their student-athletes, and future student-athletes, to repercussions, but it has to be very unpleasant at times.

In recent years, third place games in baseball and softball state tournaments have been cancelled when rain delays occurred. Both teams received third place trophies. Why not go this route? The umpires who are scheduled to work the third place game are paid regardless of whether the game is played or not, so nobody will be out any money.

The state track meet has now been delayed until 1000. The first race was scheduled for 0730. Another reason I am glad to be far, far away from Wichita right now.

What’s in a name?

The girls basketball team of Schlagle High in Kansas City took third place today at the Kansas State High School Activites Association’s state tournament in Emporia.

Schlagle’s nickname is the Stallions. An alliterative nickname, not uncommon for schools in the KCK school district. You also have the Harmon Hawks, Sumne rSabres and Washington Wildcats.

However, why is the GIRLS team from Schlagle nicknamed the Stallions?

A stallion can never, ever be female.

How hard would it be for Schlagle to nickname its female teams the Mares or Fillies?

Iola uses Fillies as the nickname for its girls teams, while using Mustangs for the boys. Not hard.

I understand Schlagle would like to keep the alliteration, but the school is doing its students a huge disservice by using an anatomically incorrect nickname. It’s a school. They are supposed to be educating. And educating people that stallions can be female isn’t right.

Schlagle isn’t the only school in Kansas that leaves me scratching my head over its choice of (a) mascot, (b) colors and/or (c) name.

Exhibit #2: the Catholic high school in the city where I have spent three of the past four days.

Hutchinson Trinity is nicknamed the Celtics. Good nickname for a Catholic school.

Yet Trinity has a terrible color scheme, red and white.

What? Red and white when you’re nicknamed the Celtics? Come on. Green. GREEN. So what if you’re copying the Boston NBA franchise? Green and white scream Celtics. Red and white do not.

The public high school in Hutchinson got it right with Salthawks. Whenever you say Salthawks in Kansas, you know it’s Hutch High. Same with Ringnecks and Hill City. Any school can be Tigers, Eagles, Bears, Lions, Wildcats, Broncos or Trojans. It takes creativity to figure out a unique nickname.

Now, on to the actual name of some schools.

Wednesday evening, I was listening to Thunder Ridge’s girls basketball game against South Central.

I don’t know how the folks in Agra and Kensington came up with Thunder Ridge when they consolidated school districts in 2008, but it is a unique name and a name you would recognize right away if you follow high schools in Kansas enough.

However, South Central? Where the heck is that? It could be anywhere.

For the record, South Central is in Coldwater, the county seat and largest town in Comanche County along the Kansas-Oklahoma state line.

There was a time when there were two high schools in Comanche County, one in Coldwater and the other in Protection. However, the high school in Protection, despite being placed on the National Register of Historical Sites, closed more than a decade ago and is now serving as the middle school for the school district in Comanche County.

Why does USD 300 not call the high school “Comanche County High School”? People could easily look on a map and find Comanche County and where Coldwater is located. However, South Central is very nebulous. Nobody who attends school in Comanche County right now went while Protection High was still open. It’s time to make the change.

If Russell High School were not located in the city of Russell, I would hope it would be called Russell County, because it is the only remaining high school in Russell County.

Another thing I don’t get is why almost all school districts in Kansas are loath to name high schools after people. Kansas City is an exception.

Wichita has eight public high schools, nearly all of which take in a direction on the compass. The original Wichita High is now Wichita East. There’s also North, South, West, Northwest, Southeast and Northeast. The other is Wichita Heights, named for the neighborhood in the northern part of the city.

Olathe has five directional high schools. So does Shawnee Mission. The original Salina High changed its name to Salina Central when Salina South opened in 1971.

Strangely, the original Topeka High did not add a direction when Topeka West opened. Highland Park is named after the neighborhood.

I’m sorry I’m boring you with semantics. Just had to get it off my chest.

To console or not to console

The last day of Kansas’ high school basketball season is upon us. However, it’s all sideshows and consolation games until 1600, when the girls championship games start at six (five too many) sites. The boys games will start at 1815.

I have never been a fan of third place games. Never will be a fan. In Louisiana, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association does not require losers in the semifinals to come back. Kansas, along with Missouri and several other states, do.

The NCAA had a third place game in its men’s tournament from 1946 through 1981. It’s amazing it took 35 years for the NCAA to realize the teams which lost their national semifinals were in no mood to stick around at least 36 more hours to play a meaningless game. The last third place game, Virginia vs. LSU in 1981, was played the same day President Reagan was shot in Washington by John Hinckley Jr. There was serious consideration given to cancelling both the third place and championship (Indiana vs. North Carolina) games, but in the end, the games were played.

If the NCAA had been smart about it, it would have told Virginia and LSU to head for the airport and go home, because the third place game would be cancelled and not played. Then Indiana-North Carolina could be put on hold and postponed to the following day if need be. In the end, it worked out okay, because the president made it through surgery and served two full terms.

To its credit, UCLA won the only third place game it played under John Wooden, defeating Kansas in 1974 after a heartbreaking double overtime loss to North Carolina State, which defeated Marquette for the championship. Two years later, Gene Bartow coached the Bruins to victory in the consolation game against previously undefeated Rutgers. UCLA lost in that year’s semis to Indiana, which completed the last undefeated season in NCAA Division I men’s basketball by defeating Michigan.

I have never heard of a team forfeiting a third place game in Kansas, but I would applaud any coaches who would. It might force the KSHSAA to reassess the worth of third place games.

Basketball isn’t the only sport with a third place game in Kansas. ‘

Volleyball has them, but they go on at the same time as the championship match, which doesn’t add time. I think that’s a big mistake; I would like to see the championship matches played on a center court after completion of the semifinals in both classifications at a site.

Softball usually plays simultaneously on different diamonds. The biggest problems are baseball and soccer, where games can and often do go longer than regulation. Baseball is particularly troubling, since most teams have very few pitchers available due to pitch count limits.

If it were up to me, I would award each team which loses in the semifinals a plaque and medals immediately after that game, and that’s it. If the final day were only two championship games, the KSHSAA could make more money by charging two admissions and spacing the games out by four hours, playing one game at 1300 and one at 1700, alternating between boys and girls early/late each year.

If I were forced to coach in a third place game, I would play the seniors who are graduating and the players who rarely played varsity. The players on the end of the bench have worked just as hard as the starters all season. They deserve the opportunity to shine, if only for one day.

For the varsity starters who were returning the next season, I would play them, but not as much. I would explain it to them as gently as I could. Hopefully they would understand.

I remember Osborne’s girls playing in back-to-back third place games in 2007 and ’08. The Bulldogs won in the former year, and looked impressive in doing so. The next year, their hearts didn’t seem to be into it as much, and they lost.

I’m interested to see how Norton and Nemaha Central handle this. There is a trophy at stake. I don’t want a foul fest, and I don’t want a blowout.

LSU’s men’s basketball program is under serious fire for a wiretapped phone call involving coach Will Wade and the recruitment of Javonte Smart, a Baton Rouge native who is a starting guard on this year’s team. Wade is suspended indefinitely, and Smart will not play tonight vs. Vanderbilt. If the Bayou Bengals win, and they should, since the Commodores are 0-17 in the SEC, LSU will win at least a share of the conference championship and be the number one seed for the SEC tournament. Boy what bad timing, but if Wade indeed committed NCAA violations, he has to man up and pay the piper.

College basketball is corrupt. Yet people keep watching. I’m seriously considering taking a pass on this year’s NCAA tournament. I know I’m not filling out a bracket, that’s for sure.

Norton’s dreams dashed

Norton gave it all it had this afternoon, but Mary Broxterman proved to be too much.

The Royal Valley standout scored 26 points, going 9 of 14 from the field and 8 of 11 from the foul line, to help the Panthers from Hoyt to a 53-44 victory and a berth in tomorrow’s state championship game against Cheney, which leads Nemaha Central by 20 in the final minute of the third quarter.

The Bluejays, who got 16 from Taryn Kuhn and 12 from Hadley Hauser, will face the ladies from Seneca–the birthplace of John Riggins–at noon for third place.

Royal Valley is probably glad to see a new face in the championship game, even if Cheney is the obvious favorite. The Panthers lost twice to Nemaha Central in Big Seven League play during the regular season.

Riggins was born in Seneca because it has the only hospital in Nemaha County. The Diesel grew up in Centralia, a tiny hamlet 12 miles southwest of Seneca.

I’m not a fan of third place games. But I’m not playing in the game. I’m hoping Norton will regroup and come out strong. It deserves to take home something from Hutchinson after a stellar season, one where it had to navigate a difficult Mid-Continent League where Trego has its best team in at least 15 years, maybe ever, and Thomas More Prep is still a tough out even without Kayla Vitztum and other standouts.

I am ambivalent about going. Part of me says stay away because it’s a third place game. Part of me says go because it would be disrespectful to Norton. I stopped covering third place games when I was still going regularly. I missed Russell’s girls playing for third in 3A at Hutchinson in 2013; I had to be in Manhattan to watch Smith Center’s girls play for–and win–the 2A championship vs. Jefferson County North.

The carrot for the third place game is the trophy. The loser of the consolation game doesn’t get one. Now the players will have medals, but other than the sub-state championship plaque, nothing tangible commemorating the trip to state.

Norton won’t hang a banner in the Stull Gymnasium for this one, win or lose. Norton only hangs banners for state champions, a policy I like. Really like. Set the bar very high and challenge the athletes who wear the Norton colors to meet it. And that bar has been met plenty.

There is one school I covered extensively which recognizes just about any trip to a state tournament. Another filled up walls with league championship banners and sub-state championship banners, even if the team was one-and-done at state.

It was not a good day for the Mid-Continent League.

Trego’s girls lost 67-49 to Sterling in 2A, and Thomas More Prep’s boys fell 62-50 to Girard in 3A. No basketball titles for the league this year. Last year, Phillipsburg’s boys reached the 3A final, only to lose 44-42 on a buzzer beater by Halstead.

The Golden Eagles should be a force again next year. Donnie Shubert, who coached Trego’s boys to a state title many moons ago (see below), returns a ton of talent, including his daughter Lili, who was Trego’s leading scorer as a sophomore.

The MCL’s last championship, male or female, was Nick Linn’s Lady Red six years ago. The last MCL boys title? Trego in 2006. TMP won in 4A in 2007, but it was in the old Mid-State Activities Association at that time.

At least the MCL can crow about football championships by Phillipsburg and Smith Center in the fall; Trego’s girls winning cross country, led by individual 2A champion Helen Giefer; Plainville’s Jordan Finnesy winning a wrestling title; and looking forward to what should be good years in track and field and golf.

As I was running a couple of errands in Wichita this evening, an announcer referred to the girls basketball team at Kansas City Schlagle as the Stallions.

Big problem: stallions are always MALE. Schalgle and a couple of other schools perplex me with their choices of nicknames, colors and even school names. I’ll elaborate at some point tomorrow.

The tilapia from Outback was outstanding. Lunch? Not so much. I’m swearing off most fast food seafood forever (not Popeye’s). Why the heck am I eating it in the first place, considering I grew up in the best city in America for seafood?

I have problems in my life, but I could be in Venezuela, where the electricity is out in nearly the entire country, adding more misery to a country where millions are starving, the unemployment rate is 35%, $1 of currency would get you about .00000001 cents American, and the military is blocking all humanitarian aid from Colombia and Brazil.

Maduro is a psychopath, right on par with the fatso running North Korea. Anyone who supports him is also a psychopath. Huey Long was never this bad.

I’m going to try not to think of Maduro as I prepare for bed. There’s much more pleasant stuff to think of.

64 minutes to a title…or 32 to heartbreak

My iPad was off when i dug it out of my bag at the arena in Hutchinson. Not the first time it happened; it did so in January at Kansas City. I was panicked then because I thought it was not working. Turns out I only needed to execute a hard reboot. This time, I knew to do that, and it was back online in seconds.

Yes I am in Hutchinson. Norton takes on Royal Valley in the first Class 3A girls semifinal at 1500. The winner gets the winner of Cheney vs. Nemaha Central at 1830. In between are boys games, Beloit vs. Perry-Lecompton at 1645 and Thomas More Prep vs. Girard at 2015.

I took my SLR camera with me. I haven’t taken photos at a basketball game since Caitlyn’s last game for Norton two years ago. I remember the Bluejays lost by three at Beloit, and Caitlyn missed a tying shot in the final seconds. I hustled out of there to drive to Kansas City. I pulled into the hotel at 0001.

The WiFi provided by Hutchinson Community College is working today. It wasn’t Friday. I have plenty of data with my Verizon plan, but every bit I can save helps. I have never gone over half my allotted data for a month. The most I used was 42% last April, and that was because of the trip to Baton Rouge, since I was using my hotspot while driving.

Peggy isn’t here. She went to Lincoln to watch Caitlyn play beach volleyball for Ottawa in a tournament at Nebraska. Hopefully the courts are climate controlled; it isn’t as cold as it was early this week, but it is chilly enough. It was foggy most of the drive to Hutch today, but the sun is trying to peek out of the clouds.

It’s down to Wichita for me after this. I’ll give my parents a chance to clean the basement and not have to cook tomorrow. I’m planning on being home Sunday by noon. I don’t really have much writing to do this week, only for the teams we have left: Thunder Ridge girls, Osborne boys and Plainville boys, who lost Wednesday to Inman. Thunder Ridge has the Herculean task of facing Central Plains, which has won 109 consecutive games and is going for its sixth consecutive state title, something never done in Kansas before by a boys or girls team.

My high school, Brother Martin, lost in the state semifinals of the diluted Louisiana High School Athletic Association boys playoffs yesterday. This is the third year the LHSAA has held separate playoffs for “non-select” and “select” schools. Non-select is basically all public schools with traditional attendance zones and charter schools which do not have strict admissions requirements, while select schools are private and religious schools, plus those charter schools which have a strict admissions policy.

Scotlandville falls into the very last category. The north Baton Rouge school is a public school, yes, but there is a significant magnet component, forcing the Hornets to battle the likes of Baton Rouge Catholic and members of the New Orleans Catholic League in the state playoffs.

Sure enough, Scotlandville will play St. Augustine, Brother Martin’s archival, for the “Division I select” state championship tomorrow in Lake Charles. Meanwhile, the “Class 5A non-select” championship game is Walker vs. Thibodaux. I’m sure the “non-select” schools of 5A are overjoyed Scotlandville is a select school, because the Hornets have owned Louisiana basketball in recent years.

Lake Charles is not the best place for these games. I have never seen Burton Coliseum, the facility hosting the boys semifinals and finals, but it’s not conveniently located, and there are much better options. The best are the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at LSU, but both of those facilities have logistical problems with the home teams. The NBA has been flexible with teams wishing to allow amateur organizations to use their arenas, but the Southeastern Conference has not, and LSU has not hosted high school title games since 1996.

The same thing exists in the Big 12, a reason why there haven’t been any high school championship games in Lawrence since 1987, and there are none in Manhattan this year.

If Louisiana can’t get either of the showcase arenas, the Cajundome in Lafayette worked very well when it hosted, as much as it pains me to say it. I can’t stand the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but it is a fine facility which is centrally located.

Tip in 30 minutes. Time to go for now.

Should have used a compass!

Norton’s quest for its first girls basketball state championship in 36 years is alive, although it wasn’t easy.

The Bluejays scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 11 in the second half, but Scott City fought the whole way, forcing Norton to expend more energy than it would have liked.

In the end, it all worked out. Norton defeated the Beavers 48-45 to advance to a semifinal Friday at 1500 against Royal Valley, which defeated Eureka 56-36. Royal Valley is in the small town of Hoyt, 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Topeka on US Highway 75. Royal Valley is an afterthought in its league, the Big Seven, where such heavyweight athletic programs like Holton, Nemaha Central and Sabetha reside.

Peggy showed up with Clark and other members of the extended Cox clan. Jennifer Hauser, whose daughters Hadley and Tessa play for the Bluejays, is Clark’s cousin.

A lot of people from Norton were surprised to see me, and with good reason, considering I had not been to a high school basketball game in over a year. Now Sue Rossi, George’s wife, wants me to come back Friday (and hopefully Saturday). Even though Peggy can’t make it Friday, I’ll probably oblige Sue and return to Hutchinson.

This time, I’ll know the proper entrance at the arena. I went to the wrong one when I arrived, and two people from Hutchinson Community College yelled at me I was at the wrong entrance and looked at me like I was totally clueless.

I haven’t been to this facility in six years. I don’t know cardinal directions like I do for the Superdome, LSU’s basketball arena, or Kauffman Stadium. Geez.

It would have helped if there were signs pointing towards the media/official entrance. There were none. I guess I was supposed to automatically know where the northwest entrance to the arena was. There were no indications outside the arena posted by HCC what entrance was what.

In that regard, covering state tournaments at Kansas State was far easier. The entrance nearest Bill Snyder Family Stadium was for the media and officials. Easy. It’s just as easy at Fort Hays.

Now I’m in Salina at Old Chicago. I was hoping to play Buztime trivia, and I am–but not the way I like. The Internet feed which supplies Buzztime’s tablets at the restaurant is kaput, and I’m forced to play as a guest, meaning I won’t have a record of the games. Beggars can’t be choosers. Not the first time this has happened; it occurred many years ago at the old B-Dubs in Lawrence.

I saw on the Buzztime website the Golden Q in downtown Hays has it now. Going to investigate. I have to be there tomorrow to pick up meds at Walgreens, so I’ll have time to see.

There’s something bugging me at Old Chicago. Not just the trivia snafu. That’s another topic for another post.

Hike to Hutchinson

I am dragging myself out of my basement to attend a high school basketball game this afternoon, something I have not done in over a year.

That used to be a way of life for me from early December through early March from 2006 through 2015, but I’ve hardly done it any more.

I’m doing it today because I need to see Peggy, whom I have not seen since before Thanksgiving. Four months is too long.

Norton is playing in the Kansas Class 3A girls state tournament at Hutchinson against Scott City at 1500. Hutchinson is a nice city, but it is just so hard to get to Hutch. There is a significant amount of time on two-lane highways coming from western Kansas, unless you go the long way, which goes through Salina and then McPherson, where four-lamed Kansas Highway 61 veers southwest into Hutchinson.

I’m thinking I’m going to the long way. I’m in need of good seafood, this being Ash Wednesday. The only fast food restaurant which has it is Popeye’s. And I have to go to Salina to get that.

I have been to the Hutchinson arena only once. That was 2013, when Russell’s girls played in the state tournament. The arena has been completely rebuilt from the inside, and I am interested to see the upgrades. I have heard nothing but great things about it.

The Bluejays are in the girls state tournament for the first time since 2008. Norton’s boys went in 2016 and ’17, so its fans know the place.

Norton’s only girls basketball state championship was in 1983, when Kevin Jilka was in his first season as coach. He retired after 30 seasons at the helm in 2012, but I’m sure he and Janet will be there, cheering for his pupil, George Rossi.

I wish this game, and all other Kansas high school state tournament games, were in Manhattan or Lawrence, but I’m not going to get my wish. I would go into detail, but I’m afraid if I do, I’ll write so much I’ll (a) bore people to tears and (b) lose track of time and not get to Hutchinson.

I thought about staying overnight, but nah, I’ll have plenty of time to get back to Russell before 2200, which is my appointed bedtime in order to get into a better sleep routine. If I can get back to Salina in time, I might be able to play an hour or two of trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings or Old Chicago. I haven’t done it since January 27. Too long.

Speaking off too long, if I don’t post this, I will start rambling TOO LONG. Bye for now!

Voicing my opinion

This letter to the editor appears in Sunday’s edition of the Kansas City Star.


High school wrestling concluded in most states last month with state tournaments. While the four states bordering Kansas all held their championships for all classifications in one location, Kansas held its tournaments in three locales.

Kansas is one of the few states that hold tournaments in more than one location. In fact, only one state, Connecticut, uses more than three sites for its state tournament.

Sadly, this is typical of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which forces fans to pick and choose one location to watch state championship competition, except for track and field.

I’m sure many coaches in the Kansas City area envy Missouri, where all the wrestling championships are under the same roof at Mizzou Arena, instead of spread out among Park City, Salina and Hays.

The KSHSAA would not have to hunt far and wide for an appropriate site for state wrestling. Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka and the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina are all excellent options.

Get with it, KSHSAA. The student-athletes and coaches deserve better.