Posted On: 03/7/18 11:20 PM
State Championships: Top Day 1 Performers at 5A in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. — The state’s quarterfinal round of play in the Kansas 5A state tournament in Topeka featured several thrilling games, including a 68-64 upset win by Mill Valley over Eisenhower behind a huge performance by Loyola recruit Cooper Kaifes.
Also posting wins were Salina Central over Wichita Heights (54-46), Pittsburg over Topeka Seaman (59-40) and Bishop Carroll over Schlagle (68-57).
MVP: Cooper Kaifes (Mill Valley). Kaifes did it all for Mill Valley on Wednesday, scoring 32 points, hauling in 12 rebounds and handing out two assists as the Jaguars kept their late season magic alive. A Loyola recruit, Kaifes recently helped Mill Valley pull out a sub-state regional championship when he hoisted in a half court shot at the buzzer for the win. On Wednesday, he started slow at the offensive end, scoring three points in the first quarter, but put 18 on the board in the second quart4er and finished having scored 21 of his team’s 29 points in the first half.
Best Offensive Performer: Carsen Pracht (Bishop Carroll). After going scoreless in the first half on 0 for 5 shooting, Pracht, a 6’0 2019 point guard put on a show in the fourth quarter on Wednesday against Schlagle. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored in a variety of ways, including several back door cuts to the basket. He finished with 16 points in the final frame and went for 19 in the contest to lead the Eagles.
Best Defensive Performer: Danair Dempsey (Wichita Heights). Dempsey scored just four points in the Falcons’ 54-46 loss to Salina Central, but he provided shot blocking, rim protection and helped Heights end a lot of possessions with defensive rebounds. A 6’6 2021 forward, Dempsey is among the state’s premier freshmen talents as he combines length and athleticism.
Best Rebounder: Cooper Kaifes (Mill Valley). At 6’3 and 200-pounds, Kaifes is a strong, physical guard who can play above the rim, is known for throwing down a dunk or two and on Wednesday showed he can dominate the defensive boards as well. He hauled in a game-high 12 rebounds against Eisenhower.
Best Passer: Dylan Vincent (Eisenhower). A 6’2 guard, Vincent is among the state’s top senior guards and on Wednesday he put together a huge first half, scoring 19 points, knocking down three 3-poiunters and shooting 8 for 10 from the field as Eisenhower built a 31-29 lead at the half. But the second half largely saw Vincent look to set up others and he finished with a day-high seven assists and showcased the skills that make him a valuable point guard prospect.
Best Shooter: Mark Grammer (Salina Central). There were some pretty good shooters in the first day of competition on Wednesday in Topeka, but Grammar’s early shooting stroke helped Salina Central take a big early lead over Wichita Heights. A strong, physical 6’2 2019 guard, Grammar finished with 17 points on 4 for 6 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.
Best Youngster: Keeshawn Mason (Mill Valley). Mason was impressive, he not only gave Mill Valley a presence in the paint and on the boards, but he was almost unstoppable in a key third quarter performance in which Valley went to him in the post over and over in the third quarter and he delivered, scoring 13 points in the frame and finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Best off the Bench: Brian Parker Jr. (Schlagle). We’re not entirely sure he was the best player off the bench on Wednesday in Topeka, but he certainly had the most memorable play as opened the fourth quarter by cutting down the lane and catching a pass and throwing down a two-handed slam while being fouled. A 5’11 2019 guard, Parker played just a handful of minutes but made the most of his time on the court.
Most Underrated: Trey Duffey (Seaman). Seaman 6’6 2019 forward Trey Duffey is an old-school, all-fundamentals type big who does a lot of things exceptionally well. He scored Seaman’s first eight points on Wednesday and helped the contest from getting away from the Sluggers early, and when Pittsburg started bringing help later in the game, Duffey did a terrific job of passing out of double teams and finding the open man and helped Seaman stay close until a runaway third quarter by Pittsburg.