Tough tournament on tap at THS
The third annual Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament has all the ingredients needed for a prime week of basketball in the girls' bracket.
The field features two teams that were state squads last season - Tonganoxie and Silver Lake - along with Immaculata and Jeff West, which reached substate finals. In addition, Metro Academy placed third at the national home-school tournament in Oklahoma City.
Although those schools all have lost some players from last year's invitational, there are plenty of reasons to think this will be a solid week of basketball at THS.
Tonganoxie, ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 4A, is the top team at the tourney and entered with a 9-0 mark. Metro Academy came in at 9-1. Immaculata (5-2), Silver Lake (6-3), Lansing (5-3) and Jeff West (5-4) all brought pretty even marks to the tournament. That left Pleasant Ridge (2-5) and Atchison (0-10) as the only teams in the girls' bracket with losing records.
Tonganoxie High athletics director Brandon Parker said the tournament again should be competitive this season.
"Silver Lake's got a deep tradition," Parker said.
Parker also looks for Jeff West to be a contender in the coming seasons.
"They'll be a force in this tournament for some years," Parker said.
He also had high praises for Metro Academy, which features sisters Shalin and Taber Spani. Metro is coached by Shalin and Taber's father, Gary Spani, a former Kansas State and Kansas City Chiefs football standout.
Sure enough, the three teams Parker mentioned all advanced to the winner's bracket, along with Tonganoxie. Metro will play Silver Lake and Tongie will play Jeff West on Friday in the winner's bracket. Lansing will play Pleasant Ridge and Immaculata will play Atchison today in the consolation semifinals.
Of course, the original Tonganoxie Invitational, the boys tournament, is no slouch this season either.
The 47th installment of the tournament features unbeaten Jeff West, along with Pleasant Ridge and Eudora, two teams that have surpassed expectations. They entered the tournament undefeated, while Atchison, the defending tournament champion, came in at 7-2.
The Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll has Atchison ranked No. 5 in the state in 4A, while the Topeka Capital-Journal ranks the Redmen No. 4.
Immaculata entered at 5-3 and Silver Lake 5-4, while Lansing (3-5) and Tonganoxie (0-9) are the only teams to bring losing records to the boys' field.
The first round games mostly played out as was expected. Pleasant Ridge held off Immaculata, 54-52, and Jeff West beat Tonganoxie. Silver Lake upended Eudora, 50-43, and Atchison survived a stiff challenge from Lansing, 64-58.