3 LHS girls earn All-KVL recognition
The sting of a one-point loss in the Class 5A substate finals hasn't quite worn off yet, but Lansing High girls basketball coach Keith Andrews received some news that helped brighten his spirits - three Lions earned All-Kaw Valley League honors.
Junior guard Brittney Lang and senior guard Katie Nietzke earned first-team honors and junior forward Alexis Ellis received honorable mention status.
"I was hoping we'd get two or three," Andrews said. "I'm thrilled that all three got the accolades they deserve."
Lang, a third-year varsity player and second-year starter, was named to the first team for the second straight year. She upped her scoring average from 9.7 points per game last year to 11.8 this season, and she scored a career-high 24 points in Lansing's 60-49 victory over Piper.
Lang's value extended beyond point production, though. She also used her speed and 5-foot-11 frame to become a defensive menace.
She was the fourth-leading vote-getter in the league behind Most Valuable Player Cassie Lombardino of Basehor-Linwood, a Washburn University signee, and Tonganoxie's Liz Baska and Shannon Carlin.
"She had some big games for us, and she had the ability to get to the free throw line and knock them down," Andrews said of Lang. "And she took some big strides defensively. She was able to change the game so much with her defensive length and size."
Nietzke, a fourth-year varsity player and third-year starter, also earned first-team honors for the second time. Her offensive production tailed back from 12.2 points per game as a junior to 9.4 as a senior, but she continued to be a threat from long range by burying 28 three-pointers.
She also developed into a more well-rounded player. Specifically, Nietzke had her best defensive season of her career.
"She did as much as anybody at being a vocal leader, and she started playing pretty good defense," Andrews said. "She was able to rebound better and had a lot of steals. She didn't score as much, but in the last eight or nine games she hit a stretch where she was in double figures, and in the Mill Valley game she hit some huge shots."
Ellis may have been Lansing's most improved player this season. After playing sparingly as a varsity reserve as a sophomore, Ellis was an everyday starter this season. She was Lansing's top rebounder with more than six per game, and her 7.9 scoring average was fourth on the team.
Ellis' best outing of the season came in a head-to-head matchup with Lombardino as Ellis scored a career-high 17 points and pulled down 12 boards.
"She really evolved," Andrews said. "The Basehor game : that's what I see her able to do night in and night out, and our goal is for her to be that consistent. Her goal for next year is to consistently be a double-double player. The sky's the limit for her. She could be a 20-point, 10-rebound player if she wants to be."
Lang and Ellis give LHS a solid foundation returning next year. Sophomore point guard Amy Briggs (8.14 points per game) also returns, giving the Lions three returning starters. In addition, junior Katie Cristiano and sophomores Kari Kelly, Katelyn Griffen and Abbey Lozenski also will be back, giving LHS seven experienced varsity returners.
"With three starters coming back, a real nice mix of younger players, and a few freshmen who came on strong at the end of the year, it's nice to have that nucleus coming back," Andrews said. "That said, every one of those kids has to put in a lot of work on the defensive end and on the shooting end so we can get where we want to be."
Cassie Lombardino Basehor
Liz Baska Tongie
Shannon Carlin Tongie
Brittney Lang Lansing
Michelle Selbe Piper
Brooke Sanders Basehor
JC Carroll Piper
Kylie Burns Ward
Kelsey Stanbrough Bonner Springs
Becky Newhouse Mill Valley
Katie Nietzke Lansing
Kelsi Wiscombe Santa Fe Trail
Ashley Jeannin Basehor
Alexis Ellis Lansing
Whitney Hartman Mill Valley