2006 tourney features strong field
The third annual Tonganoxie invitational girls basketball tournament has all the ingredients needed for a prime week of hoops.
The field features two teams that were state squads last season -- Tonganoxie and Silver Lake -- along with Immaculata and Jeff West, which reached substate finals. In addition, Metro Academy placed third at the national home-school tournament in Oklahoma City.
Although those schools all have lost some players from last year's invitational, there are plenty of reasons to think this will be a solid week of basketball at THS.
Tonganoxie, ranked No. 3 in the state, is the top team at the tourney and entered with a 9-0 mark. Metro Academy is right behind at 9-1, while Immaculata isn't far behind at 5-2. Silver Lake is 6-3, while Lansing is 5-3 and Jeff West 5-4. That leaves Pleasant Ridge (2-5) and Atchison (0-10) as the only teams entering the tournament without winning records.
Tonganoxie High athletics director Brandon Parker said the tournament again should be competitive this season.
"Silver Lake's got a deep tradition," Parker said.
Parker also looks for Jeff West to be a contender in the coming seasons.
"They'll be a force in this tournament for some years," Parker said.
He also had high praises for Metro Academy, which features sisters Shalin and Taber Spani. Metro is coached by Shalin and Taber's father, Gary Spani, a former Kansas State and Kansas City Chiefs football standout.
Of course, the original Tonganoxie Invitational, the boys tournament, is no slouch this season either.
The 47th installment of the tournament features unbeaten Jeff West, along with Pleasant Ridge and Eudora, two teams that have surpassed expectations. They enter the tournament undefeated, while Atchison, the defending tournament champion, is 6-2.
The Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll has Atchison ranked No. 6 in the state in 4A, while Jeff West is No. 7.
Immaculata is 5-3 and Silver Lake 5-4, while Lansing (3-5) and Tonganoxie (0-9) are the only teams to enter the tournament with losing records.
"Jeff West is undefeated," Parker said. "With an Atchison team you're going to get a good team with athletic players who are fast-paced."
Traditionally, many Kansas tournaments this week are boys tournaments, while girls tournaments normally are held next week. In 2004, Tonganoxie added a girls bracket.
"I think there are more tournaments going to the format we've gone to," Parker said.
According to Parker, the dual format is becoming more popular because it's better for fans and school districts because they have to travel less.
Sometimes, though, finding teams to play can be difficult. This week, there will be roughly 30 tournaments in the Kansas City metro area -- and two of those will be in Tonganoxie.
"It's pretty competitive to get teams in your tournament," Parker said.