Tournament organizer expects balanced field
State-ranked teams, parity highlight second oldest basketball invitational in Sunflower State
Expect some parity at the 48th annual Tonganoxie Invitational boys basketball tournament -- the second-oldest Kansas high school tournament behind the Dodge City Tournament of Champions.
Atchison enters the tournament with one loss, while Tonganoxie and Pleasant Ridge have two losses each. The rest of the field, except for Lansing, is hovering around .500. Even Lansing, with a 2-6 record likely won't be a pushover, as the Lions have embarked on a new season with a new coach against a rugged schedule. Jeff West and Silver Lake also enter the season with new coaches.
"On the boys side, obviously Atchison's a good team," THS athletics director said. "But I see it being pretty even, even with Atchison."
AHS is ranked No. 5 in the state, while Tonganoxie, which last year went 2-19, is ranked in some publications with a 6-2 record.
Atchison has won the last two boys tournaments.
In addition, AHS has won three of the last four Tonganoxie tournament titles.
On the girls side, four squads enter the tournament with two losses or fewer -- Tonganoxie, Pleasant Ridge and Eudora.
THS is ranked No. 1 in 4A with an 8-0 record, while Pleasant Ridge (6-1) has gotten off to a good start in 3A. After stumbling early, Eudora is 4-2. Silver Lake, the defending Tonganoxie Invitational champion, enters at 4-4.
"Obviously our girls are pretty strong," Parker said about Tonganoxie. "Silver Lake's well-coached. Lansing gave us a really good game. Eudora's played a lot better as the season's gone on."
The girls tournament is in just its fourth year, but parity, at least in the form of the tournament champion, has been strong. There's been a different champion each year -- Jeff West in 2004, Tonganoxie in 2005 and Silver Lake in 2006. THS has played in each of those title games.
Some tournaments split up boys and girls tournaments, with schools sending their boys team to one tournament and their girls team to another during midseason tournament time.
With the exit of Metro Academy and the addition of Eudora on the girls side, the Tonganoxie tournament field now has the same eight schools competing in both tourneys.
"There will be tournaments that do another format," Parker said. "But we always think it's better to put boys and girls together. I think it's better for fans because you get to see different styles of basketball."
In Monday's first-round action, the girls bracket had two exciting games. Lansing outlasted Jeff West, 45-40, while Eudora defeated Atchison by a similar score, 46-42.
On the boys side, Atchison, ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 4A, held off Lansing, 46-39, on Monday. In the late game, Eudora advanced to the tournament semifinals with a 62-51 victory against Pleasant Ridge.
Games got under way on Monday and will conclude with final-round games Saturday. Games will be played in the newly renovated THS gymnasium, except for the seventh-place games on Saturday which will be played in the former junior high gymnasium, now the THS west campus.
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