Wristen: Early intrigue with substate bracketology
By most accounts, last year’s Class 4A boys basketball substate bracket at Basehor-Linwood contained three teams that many believed should have been in the state tournament field — and perhaps the Final Four.
The Kansas Basketball Coaches Association rankings backed that up. Top-seed BLHS entered substate ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, Sumner Academy was ranked third and St. James Academy was ranked 10th in the state.
Sumner needed overtime to knock off St. James in the substate semifinals, and the Sabres rallied past defending state champ Basehor-Linwood a night later to earn the state berth.
One week later, the Sabres hoisted a state championship trophy.
The substate picture isn’t quite as lopsided this year, thanks to the realignment of a few brackets. Basehor-Linwood, Sumner and St. James no longer will be in the same substate. BLHS and Sumner will be in the same bracket — to be played this year at Piper High School — while St. James will be shipped off to Spring Hill.
Still, some intriguing potential matchups already are shaping up.
The Topeka Capital-Journal’s top-five rankings for Class 4A list BLHS at No. 1, followed by Sumner, Topeka Hayden, St. James and Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the Dec. 20 KBCA rankings listed Sumner as the top team in the state, followed by Basehor-Linwood, Hayden and St. James.
Basehor-Linwood and Sumner appear to be on a collision course for a substate finals meeting in the Piper bracket. The bracket’s most likely sleeper, Bonner Springs, has as much pure athleticism as any team in the field but doesn’t have the size necessary to shut down the Bobcats or Sabres.
As for St. James — which let the 2010 substate semifinal match against Sumner slip away — the Thunder should be involved in another highly anticipated substate finals matchup. They share a bracket with powerhouse Hayden.
Hayden handed St. James its only loss this season Dec. 10 at Hayden in overtime, 54-52. St. James led almost the entire way, but it missed too many free throws to finish the job and then allowed Hayden’s Kurt Walker to bury a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force OT.
St. James’ other victims so far this season are 2010 Class 4A state runner-up Ottawa, 2010 Class 5A state champion Bishop Miege and Missouri power Raytown.
No other Class 4A substate matchups feature such stout 1-2 combinations Basehor-Sumner and St. James-Hayden. Sure, there’s no guarantee that these teams will reach the finals, but now that 2011 has officially arrived the early bracketology projections can begin. These two seem like no-brainers.