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Basketball notes: North learns to spread out its scoring

Published Feb. 26 at 4:01 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 27 at 2:10 p.m.

In his final season at North, Conner Frankamp set the City League career scoring record with 2,295 points. A two-time All-State selection, he averaged 31.1 points his final season and led North to the City League title and the Class 6A tournament.

There hasn’t been a player in the City League this season scoring like Frankamp. Instead, there’s players bunched together.

North senior Zach Beard and Southeast sophomore Jerrick Harding are both hovering around 16 points per game, while Southeast’s Jordan Murdock, Kapaun’s Thomas O’Connor and North’s Tarius Williams are at about 14.

The difference in scoring has affected North, which relied heavily on Frankamp.

“Conner was 78 percent of our scoring last year,” North coach Gary Squires said. “Zach’s been our go-to player, and Tarius has a nice shot, too.”

Beard and Williams lead a senior-laden North team that is 9-10 heading into Thursday’s game at West. North handed McPherson its only loss and has beaten Southeast. North has a three-point loss to Southeast on Feb. 14 and lost to Heights in overtime on Dec. 10.

“When they shoot well, we win. When they struggle, we struggle,” Squires said.

Heights rebounds — After the Heights boys lost their second straight game in the Dodge City tournament in January, coach Joe Auer waited about 15 minutes before talking to his team. The Falcons had entered the tourney with one blemish on their record, a one-point loss to East.

But after an overtime loss to Manhattan and a one-possession loss to Hutchinson, Heights could have been reeling. But it wasn’t.

“We really tried not to overanalyze it,” said Auer, whose team finished second in the City League and is 15-4 heading into Thursday’s game at Kapaun. “… I think we did a good job of not being too critical of ourselves. It didn’t affect our City League standings, it wasn’t going to crush us in the sub-state. I think it was really important to stay positive, and the next day we come back and have the best game of the year.

“I thought, ‘Wow, these guys are pretty special to handle two losses like that and not come out and be complete babies in the matinee special.’ They didn’t have their heads down.”

The keys for Heights have been their defense and balanced scoring. The Falcons are allowing 48 points, down nearly three points from last season.

“It’s every man, every little bit counts,” Auer said. “It’s three blocked shots here, two deflections there, a loose ball here or there. It all adds up.”

And offensively, Tre King, Davon Gill and Arie Johnson have come through to improve an offense that is averaging 10 more points than a year ago.

“Those three guys have helped the five returning players to give the extra 10, 12 points a night, and that has led us to be very successful,” Auer said.

Busy week — Newton girls coach Randy Jordan didn’t spend a Monday morning interview bemoaning the fact that his team was scheduled to play Maize twice in five days.

In typical fashion, Jordan shrugged it off and looked for the positive.

“It’s great in terms of preparing us for sub-state,” said Jordan, whose team lost to Maize 38-29 on Monday night and plays host to Maize (15-4) on Friday. “Our sub-state is brutal. The way I see it, it’s great preparatiion for that.

“And another thing, if you take a look at our (Newton midseason tournament) schedule, for us, this isn’t a big change. Our schedule has been brutal. This isn’t anything drastic.”

Newton (13-6) played host to its tournament that had Miege, Kapaun, Andover Central and Carroll, some of the top teams in Classes 4A and 5A.

While Jordan would probably have wished for some different results at times, the postseason is what matters.

“I think it’s always great to be tested a lot during the season because the kids learn how to play in tough games, learn how to win in tough games,” Jordan said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to play a soft schedule and then go into sub-state thinking you’re anything special.

“Anything can happen there. The rim gets smaller for teams. Especially teams that had a lot of success, it comes sub-state time and it’s do or die. The rim can get smaller. For teams like us, who have been through the wringer all season long, it’s another game.”

Changing focus — When the Mulvane girls won their midseason, coach Kendra Banzet was confident that it was a momentum builder and would spark the Wildcats to a second-half sweep of their Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II opponents.

But then three losses to Rose Hill, McPherson and Buhler scuttled that chance. So the focus has turned to finishing strong for sub-state.

“It would have been nice to get second or win the league, but we did not play well for league games,” Banzet said. “Against Rose Hill, sometimes you have those off nights. It must have been a combination of things.”

Mulvane is 12-7 and plays at El Dorado on Thursday night in the regular-season finale.

But the Wildcats are in a sub-state with Wellington and Rose Hill, teams they’ve played twice, along with Winfield, which they’ve played three times.

The key for Mulvane is its primary offensive threats. KaSandra Melick (12.5 points), a slasher; Destynee Donaldson (12.3), who is especially valuable with the 8- to 10-foot jumpers; and Aubree Burkhart (13.8), who not only posts up well, but hits from three.

“We’re tougher to guard because if you really guard one of them, I have two more to pick up the slack. If you guard two really hard, I have one more. And then you add in Ashley Wilson and Shelby Endres,” Banzet said. “Out of that top five, you have to have a pretty legit defensive night against us.”

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.