Mystery awaits us in Kaw Valley League
It was a few minutes before 1 a.m. Monday when I left the Bonner Springs YMCA.
The Bonner Springs High School basketball teams had just ushered in the 2008-2009 season with Midnight Madness, kicking off practice at the earliest moment possible.
Groggy as I was from the late night of work, I couldn’t help but spend the drive home pondering just how different the basketball landscape will look this season in the Kaw Valley League.
For the girls, the KVL’s powerhouse programs in recent years — Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood — both will be rebuilding after losing talent-laden senior classes. It seems foolish, however, to overlook THS coach Randy Kraft and BLHS coach Noah Simpson’s ability to develop talent. Both squads certainly belong in the conversation.
Frequent second- or third-place finisher Lansing returns almost its entire roster and may be the favorite to ascend the league throne this season. Then again, Piper is coming off a strong season, too, and might be in the mix. So could a Mill Valley squad that’s fresh off a rebuilding season.
On the boys’ side, the picture is even blurrier. The top three teams from 2007 — Basehor, Perry-Lecompton and Lansing — all had major turnover on their rosters.
Could the Bobcats’ up-and-comers find their groove soon enough to defend their league title? Or is it Lansing’s turn with 6-foot-8-inch Cody Rush roaming the paint and smooth-shooting Clayton Hall on the perimeter? Or what about middle-of-the-pack Piper, which spent last season reloading after a solid run near the top? Are the Pirates back to their old form this year?
And what about Bonner Springs? The BSHS boys and girls both may be the Kaw Valley League’s biggest mysteries as the Bravettes try to replace sharpshooter Kelsey Stanbrough and defensive stalwarts Chelsea Crouch and Felisha Leipard and the Braves look to replace … well, everybody.
Sometimes it’s the blank slates that ultimately do the most damage because they’re so unpredictable. Monday morning certainly had that feel to it. There were some flashy passes, swished jump shots and slashes to the lane for layups, but there also were turnovers and a few airballs. There were signs of promise, and additional signs that these teams will be works in progress.
I suppose that’s how most teams open their season, whether it’s at midnight or mid-afternoon.
Nobody’s perfect on day one. All records are equal at this point, and there’s plenty of work to do during the next two weeks before opening night.