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Top seeds steamroll into semis

Thomas More Prep and Lakin easily won their quarterfinal matches of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin.

The Monarchs improved to 36-2 by spiking Southwestern Heights 25-10, 25-7; and the host Broncs (32-7) rolled over Hi-Plains League rival Syracuse 25-8, 25-10.

Next up is #4 Hugoton (16-20) vs. #5 Cimarron (15-19) on the West court, and #3 Norton (22-13) vs. #6 Hoisington (8-25) on the East court.

TMP gets the Hugoton-Cimarron winner in the semis, and Lakin plays the Norton-Hoisington winner.

Norton has won just one sub-state match since making it to the 2007 state tournament. That was two years ago at Scott City, when the Bluejays won in the first round over Southwestern Heights before losing to Lakin in the semis.

This is the first match Norton is the higher seeded team in sub-state since 2005, when Chelsea Cox was a senior. How time flies.

KC for a different reason

The Russell Lady Broncos’ offense was missing in action last night in Hoisington. It was going to be difficult to defeat Ellinwood if Russell’s offense was functioning, but without it, the Broncos were in big trouble.

The Eagles won 41-30, defeating Russell for the second time this season and winning the Hoisington Winter Jam for the second consecutive season. Russell is 6-6 heading into

The Bronco boys fell to 2-10 after losing 60-51 to Hoisington in the third place game.

I got home at 8:15 last night, got packed and got to bed. I had to go to sleep at a decent hour, because I knew I had a four-hour drive today with my parents to Kansas City.

My father is having heart surgery tomorrow at the University of Kansas Medical Center in KCK. My mother does not like to drive the part of the trip through the Flint Hills, so I agreed to drive. We stopped for a good lunch at Qboda in Junction City, and following a break for gas between Lawrence and Tonganoxie, we got to the Holiday Inn across the street from the medical center at 3.

After they checked in, I motored on across the Missouri River to my usual lodging place in the Northland, the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs. Everything looked good in the room.

I went to Hy-Vee on Barry Road pick up some necessities–pop and sushi (LOL)–before going to Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa for the first time since my awful incident of Jan. 4. Liz was overjoyed to see me. So was Tori. It’s nice to be missed.

I have work to do tonight and tomorrow morning before i head to Overland Park in the afternoon to get my Chevrolet serviced. My father’s surgery is set for 3 p.m. I will be praying it goes well, but trying to keep my mind off of it. I’m very fortuante this is the first major hospital stay for him since he had a concussion in November 1970.

So far so good. Hope it stays that way, both for my father and for me.

Hoisington finale

I’m in Hoisington for the fourth time in the past six days. Nothing against the town or the people, but I’m glad this will be the last time I’m in the Activity Center until September, when the Cardinals host their volleyball tournament.

I’ve got a break right now while Hoisington and LaCrosse are playing the third place girls game. Victoria played a doubleheader earlier with both squads winning, and Russell has a twinbill next, starting with the boys vs. Hoisington in the third place game, followed by the girls vs. Ellinwood for the championship. The Eagles defeated the Lady Broncos 63-40 in the season opener Dec. 5 at Ellinwood, and Russell will have to play over its head to win today. Ellinwood is 10-0, but sadly, it is assigned to the same sub-state as Central Plains, the reigning Class 2A state champion.

Russell’s girls played their best game of the season in routing LaCrosse 56-34 yesterday. Megan Boxberger was hitting just about everything she put up, including five 3-pointers, and Kyleigh Kasper dominated the paint on both ends.

Wednesday night at Buffalo Wild Wings Salina went very well. I stayed until 9:30.

I did absolutely nothing Thursday. The Seroquel I took before going to bed the night before whipped my butt. I did not get out of bed until after 3, and I had no energy whatsoever to go to Hoisington later in the evening for Victoria’s games. But since I could go today, no big deal.

This may be my last basketball for January. I’m scheduled to leave for Kansas City tomorrow and not be back until Friday, but by that time it will be too late to go anywhere, and besides, I have to be in Oberlin at 9 a.m. Saturday for a wrestling tournament.

It’s been an amazingly good stretch of weather this month. All of the snow has melted, and the temperatures have been hovering between 45 and 55 (7 to 12 Celsius) for the last week. I;ve been wearing short sleeves to Hoisington with only a sweatshirt on top.

I’ve been productive during the wait for Russell’s games. I got three stories written for Osborne, meaning all I have to do is write my column and I’m done with that. With the trip coming up tomorrow, that gives me a great head start. The more I can do now, the less I have to rush Monday and Tuesday.

Lots to catch up on

I went into another Howard Hughes phase since last Monday and disappeared from the face of the blogosphere. I apologize.

Part of it was because the bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone stopped functioning last Tuesday (Jan. 13), the day I went to Gypsum to cover the Russell at Southeast of Saline basketball games. It just plum stopped. Nothing. It wasn’t the batteries, because I tried new batteries in it.

I ordered a new one immediately from Best Buy that day before I went to Southeast. I was intending on going to Wichita the next day to pick it up, but after getting my work done at 2:30 that afternoon, I just went back to Buffalo Wild Wings and stayed until 8:30, when I drove back to Russell.

I could not get my butt up early enough Thursday to go down. I took a Seroquel pill the night before, and I did not fully wake up until almost 3. I went to Hays that evening with Larry Bernard and Jerry Driscoll to watch Russell’s dual wrestling meet with TMP-Marian, which lasted all of 37 minutes. Jerry took us to eat at Applebee’s afterward, which was very nice.

Friday wasn’t an option regardless of when I woke up, since I was going to Smith Center for the Redmen and Lady Red’s basketball games against TMP. The Monarchs won both, taking the girls 52-47 and the boys 75-42; the latter had a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Seroquel again took control of my day Saturday. Could not for the life of me get going, but finally, I found enough energy to drive to Plainville for the Mid-Continent League basketball tournament. I wanted to go see Norton’s girls play so I could see my dear friend Peggy Cox, whose daughter Caitlyn is a starter for the Lady Bluejays. I stayed after Norton defeated Oakley to watch Phillipsburg’s boys down Smith Center.

I went to Buffalo Wild Wings Sunday, but I did not stay for too long. I had a flood of e-mails come in from Kirby Ross, the editor of the Phillips County Review, and I got nervous about getting everything done for the week, since I knew Monday night would be shot with Russell playing two basketball games in the Hoisington tournament.

I left Salina at 3:30 and drove to Wichita. I went to Best Buy to get the keyboard resolved and then checked in at the Springhill Suites at 13th and Greenwich. I got all of Osborne’s work done in the evening, plus a few Phillipsburg stories.

The next morning, I got my column done before getting out of there at noon. Elaine Mercer wanted to see me in the office, so I did my best to haul butt north and west. I arrived at 3 and we had a very productive 25-minute chat.

Russell won both of its basketball games Monday, defeating Otis-Bison each time. The boys won for only the second time this season. The Cougars were without 6-foot-6 standout Kyle Patrick, but Russell wasn’t feeling sorry for O-B, which happens to be the alma mater of one of my good buddies, Smith Center volleyball and girls basketball coach Nick Linn.

Tuesday was the usual grind to get all of my work done. I had Phillipsburg done at 8 a.m., save for a story on Thunder Ridge’s girls game Monday night which I did as soon as the information came in at 8:40. Ellis was done before noon, Smith Center by 2, and Plainville by 3. Nobody was complaining.

The only downside was I didn’t get out of the house in time to see Victoria’s girls play Ellinwood in the Hoisington tournament. Sadly, the Knights lost 58-19, but the Eagles are 9-0 and ranked second in Class 2A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, trailing only defending state champion Central Plains. Elllinwod and Central Plains, like Victoria, are all members of the Central Prairie League.

I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Hoisington for a mint Oreo blizzard, then got to the Activity Center at 4:15. I didn’t go in; instead, I listened to a recording while I napped in the car.

Victoria’s boys fared no better than the girls. The Knights fell behind Hoisington by 25 points and lost 61-47. I left at the end of the third quarter so I could get my steak fingers at DQ.

I went to bed at 11:20. I knew I would have to get up early because I had an important 9 a.m. appointment at Hays. I did get up early, at 5:30, to get some stories written before leaving.

I almost didn’t find my phone before going to Hays. I called my phone from the land line in the house, but stupid me had the silencer on, so I could not find it until the fourth call. But I made to Hays on time.

My appointment went exceedingly well. EXCEEDINGLY well. Got back to Russell at 10:30, and by 1:30, the pages were done.

Buffalo Wild Wings on a Wednesday night. It’s good. Promise not to go so long between posts again.

Get out of dodge

My day at Scott City is going to end a little earlier, but way too late still.

Phillipsburg could not complete the deal after taking the first set from Hoisington. The Cardinals rallied to win the final two sets and the match 19-25, 26-24,

It will be Lakin and Hoisington for the championship. The Panthers’ season ends at 19-18.

The Mid-Continent League will be represented by two teams at state tournaments, league champion TMP-Marian in Class 4A-Division II at Salina and Smith Center in Class 2A at Emporia.

I’m heading for Garden City. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood. Probably not. Especially if the Royals take the lead.

Five hours in

The quarterfinals are in the books at Scott City. Phillipsburg ousted Cimarron 25-16, 25-17 to clinch the final spot in the semifinals vs. Hoisington. The first semi between Lakin and Norton is going on right now.

If I get out of here early, it will only be because Phillipsburg loses to Hoisington. I’m not counting on that happening, so I’m here until the end. If I’m going to be here until the end, Phillipsburg had better win.

That wasn’t the case the last time I was in Scott City for sub-state volleyball. In 2006, the Panthers made it to the final, but ran into an Oberlin buzzsaw which featured Miki Dorshorst, who went on to play at Wyoming. I remember not checking into the hotel at Garden City until after 10, which may be the case again tonight.

It looks like I’m going to have an early Friday morning at Emporia on the docket. Smith Center won the first set over Ness City 25-20. If the Lady Red wins one of the next two, they’re back in the state tournament.

Norton moves on

Norton defeated Southwestern Heights 25-17, 25-21 in the second match, so the Bluejays will now match up with Lakin in the first semifinal. Before that takes place, there are still two more quarterfinal matches, Hoisington vs. Russell and Phillipsburg vs. Cimarron.

Jay Blair, who announces many of Phillipsburg’s matches on KQMA radio, sat down next to me in the press box. Jay had an even shorter turnaround than me, since he went to Ell-Saline for the Panthers’ football game last night at Brookville, back to P-burg, and then all the way down. Jay’s daughter, Melissa, was an All-State player for Phillipsburg from 2007-10 and is now wrapping up a solid college career at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.

Tad Felts, the legendary KQMA broadcaster who covered high school sports from 1968 through 2011, is also here. I would thin so, because he spent time in Scott City and other places in southwest Kansas.

Russell and Hoisington are about to start. It stinks to high heaven these schools are located only 28 miles apart, are of similar size, yet aren’t in the same league. And they haven’t been in the same league since 1996, when Russell left the old Mid-State Activities Association for their current (crappy) league, the North Central Activities Association. Hoisington bounced around and finally landed in the Central Kansas League this year.

Here we go again. Back in a little while.

Spiketacular underway

I have arrived at Scott City, a little later than I would have liked, but early enough nonetheless. The first match of the Class 3A volleyball sub-state tournament, top seed Lakin vs. host Scott City, should get underway a couple of minutes after 1 p.m., following team introductions.

I took the time to stop in Hays to get my car washed. The damn water seeped into the trunk, however, and left some things damp, including a notepad. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, because I’ve got plenty left from the one I was using last night at Smith Center. The car needed to get vacuumed out. And cleaned of the bugs.

I got gas at my favorite station on US 283 in WaKeeney, then made the decision to drive south on 283 towards Ness City rather than what I’ve done in the past, which is take I-70 to Oakley and turn south on US 83 directly to Scott City.

I’ve been south on 283 from WaKeeney to Ness City many times, but this was my first time going west on K-96. I almost regretted immediately, because there was a construction worker standing in front of the Ness County courthourse. Oh great, I thought. I’m going to be waiting for the pilot car to lead the convoy, and this will make me late, or cutting it close.

The wait for the pilot car was not long, and the construction was not the full route today. Once the pilot car pulled away, the drive got insanely boring. Really boring. Fields of nothing. The monotony was only broken up by passing through Dighton, where the track at the stadium was being torn up and replaced. This was my first ever drive through Lane County, probably not my last.

The drive from Dighton to Scott City was pretty much more of the same. I couldn’t find the high school at first simply because I came in from a different direction but once I got my bearings, it was no problem.

Lakin and Scott City have begun. A long day of volleyball is ahead of me.