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Basketball notes: Halstead’s Anthony Santiago can provide offense

Published Dec. 12 at 5:07 p.m. | Last updated Dec. 12 at 3:44 p.m.

Halstead senior Anthony Santiago proved he can score as a junior, when he averaged 17 points and scored more than 30 twice.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to Halstead basketball coach Tony Hoops when Santiago dropped 43 on Bennington on Tuesday night.

“He’s just a true scorer,” Hoops said. “He has a nice shot. He’s worked a ton on it. He’s a gym rat, works really hard in the gym. He had a good year last year, and in the offseason, he worked even harder. He can score off the dribble, he can score getting to the basket, finishing in the lane. He can do multiple things.”

Hoops did say, though, that he was shocked to find out Santiago had 43 because he only had 20 shots. Santiago made 13 of 20 field goals, including 10 of 17 from three-point range. He was 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.

Santiago is the younger brother of Alex Santiago, who was an All-State and All-Metro selection in 2010 while at Burrton. Alex Santiago averaged a state-high 29 points his senior season, scoring a record 53 in a Class 1A tourney game.

“It’s not a focal point of our offense,” Hoops said of Santiago’s scoring. “We also have other individuals who can score the basketball, and he knows that.

“This was a game where they sat in a 1-3-1 zone and basically dared us to shoot. He kept knocking them down. Hey, you have to play basketball. But in other situations, we have other people who can score, and he can be a facilitator.”

The Challenge — The City League vs. the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League basketball challenge is Jan. 2-4 at Koch Arena, but the matchups have yet to be set.

The two leagues agreed to set the schedule after the start of the season, so as to ensure better matchups. Too many times there was a good boys game, but a blowout on the girls side in the initial challenge in January 2013. But that was because the boys and girls teams each played the same opponent.

There are no such restrictions with the upcoming challenge. There could be, for example a Maize-Heights girls game but a Maize-East boys game, for example.

This weekend, City League athletic director J Means and Maize district athletic director Marc Haught will take the results from the first eight days of the season and pick the best matchups.

“Whether that means two undefeated teams playing each other or two teams that haven’t won a ballgame and have been getting blown out — those could be good matchups, too,” Means said. “… We want to be able to create 18 interesting games instead of four or five.”

The nine AV-CTL schools who will play the City League are Andover, Andover Central, Arkansas City, Derby, Goddard, Hutchinson, Maize, Maize South and Salina South.

North needs swagger — There’s plenty of improvement that North boys coach Gary Squires is looking for from his team, which is 0-2 heading into Friday’s game against East.

“They want to win, they play hard, and they’re used to winning,” Squires said. “But we need to get our swagger back, and they know it.”

North, which won the City League title last season, has most of its players back from a year ago. Except for guard Conner Frankamp, who is now at Kansas.

While Tarius Williams scored 26 in an overtime loss to Heights, and Zach Beard had 16, Squires is looking for more.

“Right now, somebody has to step up in leadership and run the show for us,” Squires said. “I haven’t had that right now, and that’s the disappointing thing. No one wants to step up and take charge and get on them, be the coach on the floor.”

Squires expected growing pains, even though most of his team is experienced.

“I think the first thing is, these guys have to learn to play without Conner,” he said. “They have to learn to step up and handle the pressure.

“You have to look at the last two years, and these guys have done a great job of playing with Conner. But at crunch time, we had the ball in his hands. They have to know they have to step up and make the pressure shot, play as a team.”

Campus’ start — The Campus girls head into Friday’s game with Derby at 1-1 after a victory over Arkansas City on Tuesday. The win is an early-season confidence boost for the Colts, who won five games last season.

“We’ll build on it for this Friday,” coach Josh Curtiss said. “We’re at home, and Derby should be a matchup where we match up well against each other. We’ll take that confidence and try to build on it. It’s some little steps.”

Campus made 11 three-pointers, with Hayley Leeper making five and leading Campus with a team-high 17 points.

“We probably shot 50 percent from the three-point line,” Curtiss said. “We had some girls who don’t usually shoot them, make threes, but it was a night when they were shooting them pretty good.”