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n*»B-14 The Salina Journal Sunday, November 0,1M1 By KEN CORBITT Sporte Writer Salina Central coach Dennis Wah- Igren says last year's 1-70 League race was a very competitive one. "Last year the league was very balanced in a lot of ways," Wahlgren said. "A number of teams could have won, but Topeka High always seems to be able to get over the hump against the rest of us.- The 1981-82 race should be no different. The Trojans are a solid pick to defend their league title with Salina South a strong runner-up. Manhattan was picked third by the league coaches, followed by Salina Central, Junction City and Topeka West. Trojans still strong Topeka consistently has one of the top teams in the state and this season should be no exception. The Trojans won the I- 70 with an 8-2 mark and were 18-4 overall, losing in the first round of the Class 1-70 6A state tournament. Coach Willie Nicklin returns a pair of solid 6-4 forwards in Brent Banner and Paul Eckhardt. Banner was honorable mention all-league last year when he averaged 8.4 points per game. Eckhardt scored five points per game in a reserve role. The only other player with extensive varsity experience is Joe Wells, a quick guard who will run the Trojans' attack. Darnell Perkins and Adrian Barber move up from a strong junior vanity team and could provide good help. Manhattan returns two fulltime starters and two others who started part- time, but size could be a problem for the Indians. Coach Mike Leahy said his starting lineup will probably consist of the 1-70 favorite J three players who stand 6-1 and two at 62. The two starters back from last year's 10-10 team are good ones, though. Tim Leahy, a 6-1 senior, was all-league last year and will be starting for his third season. He averaged 10.6 points per game last year with a season-high of 18 points. Michael Center, another 6-1 senior, will Join Leahy in the backcourt. Center was honorable mention all-league with a 10.2 scoring average. The two part-time starters are senior Ed Lockhart and junior Todd Leahy. Lockhart, 6-1, is an excellent shooter and defensive player and Todd Leahy, 6-2, is expected to provide some punch inside. The spoiler? Junction City could be the spoiler in the league this season. The Blue Jays have some good size in 6-4 senior Bob Hambrach, 6-3 senior Joe Lindsey and 66 junior Anthony Ricks. Hambrach averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game last season when Wild race expected in Mid-State AA The toughest Class 4A basketball league in the state is — without question — the Mid-State Activities Association. The league had three representatives in last year's 4A state tournament in Salina. And Pratt, Nickerson and Thomas More Prep finished 2-3-4 in the meet. Look for the same three teams, along with Hoisington, to contend for league honors this season. Pratt finished second to TMP in last year's title race, but the Greenbacks came within two quarters of winning the state title. Pratt led Sacred Heart, 28-23, at halftime of the championship game before the Knights stormed from behind to win the title game, 62-50. Greenback coach Al Schoen has three starters back from last year's 19-5 club, including 6-5 senior forward Eric Boldt, a 4A All-Tournament selection. Jeff Henry and Mike Myers, Pratt's starting guards a year ago, also return for their senior seasons. Nickerson and defending league cham- C Mid-State pion TMP will also be strong this winter. Nickerson was hit hard by graduation, but first-year coach Don Moeckel has four senior lettermen — guard Jay Osborne, center Wayne Ziegler, and forwards Scott Miller and Marty Murry — back from last year's 21-4 campaign. Thomas More Prep-Marian has just one starter back in 6-0 junior guard Kelly Locke. But veteran Monarch coach Al Billinger has six additional lettermen — Greg Flax, Rusty Schueler, Clair Augustine, Lyle Befort, Todd Wasinger and Jeff Brungardt — who were the nucleus of an undefeated junior varsity team. Hoisington, which finished fifth in the Mid-State AA last year, will likely improve on its 10-12 overall record. The Cardinals have their top two players back in junior guard Stacy Reed and senior center Mike Kaiser. Reed, an all-league pick last year, shot 57 percent from the field and canned 76 percent of his free throw attempts. Kaiser led the Mid-State in rebounding and averaged 15 points per outing. Scott Atteberry and Brian Friess return from last year's 11-9 team at Lyons. Atteberry, 6-3, is being counted on to do the bulk of the Lions' inside work, while Friess is considered one of the league's top defensive guards. Russell has eight returning lettermen as the Broncos attempt to bounce back from a 5-15 campaign. Seniors David Covalt, Mark Ptacek, Kurt Boxberger, Brian Hamel, John Voos and Aaron Marshall are back as are juniors Mike Craig and Greg Dennett. Larned won just two games last year, but first-year coach Dave Burgess is optimistic the Indians can improve. Burgess has eight lettermen back as he attempts to rebuild the Larned cage program. the Blue Jays went 11-10. Another solid performer for coach Joe Beck is John Burroughs, a 6-2 junior guard who averaged 12 points a game over the last half of the season. Topeka West has a new coach in John Oestreich, who will try to improve on the Chargers' 9-11 record last year. Starting guards Gary Bervert and Tony Barry are back and both are capable ballhandlers and shooters. The front line — the Chargers' strength last y ear _ i s a question mark, however. Only forward Matt Schutter has much varsity experience. Separate stories on Salina South and Salina Central appear elsewhere in this special edition. Weskan, GPHS after WKL title Weskan and Golden Plains are expected to be the top contenders for the Western Kansas League basketball title this season. First-year coach Mark Becker has four lettermen returning from last year's 9-10 team at Weskan. The top returnee is 6-4 junior center Bryce Walker, an all- league first team choice last year. Also back for the Coyotes are juniors Greg Parrott (5-11 guard) and Rick Cline (6-2 junior) and sophomore Val Reiss (57 guard). Jerry Livingston has two starters and an additional five lettermen returning Brewster the Liberty League choice With three starters and an additional four lettermen returning from last year's 10-8 team, the Brewster Bulldogs expected to have a good basketball team this year. But with 6-5 junior Dan Daniels transferring in from Walsh, Colo., the Bulldogs should be better than "good" in 1981-82. "If we play up to our potential, we can play with anyone," said Dan Welch, third-year head coach. Daniels averaged 15 points a game as a sophomore at Walsh last year, and he'll have plenty of help this season. Seniors Jed McKee (5-11 guard), Steve Baird (6-1 forward) and Gary Cook (6-0 forward) are back after starting as juniors. McKee is the top returnee. He averaged 18.5 points and six assists a game last season and was named to The Salina Journal's Class 1A All-Area Team. Baird, along with McKee, made the all-league team last year. He averaged 11 points and 13 rebounds a game. [ Liberty J Cheylin's first-year coach Dexter Leach has his work cut out for him. Gone from last year's 18-2 team are four starters, including three Class 1A all- area players. "Our players will have very little varsity experience," Leach said. "We will be moving up a complete junior varsity team, but they have played together for several years so that will help." The lone returning starter is 6-1 senior forward Allan Burk. Grinnell missed a 1A state berth by two points last year when Dorrance hit a field goal at the buzzer to beat the Warriors by one point in the sub-state finals. Head coach Mickey Weiser has one returning starter back from that 14-5 team — 6-2 senior Mark Suter — and three lettermen. The lettermen are 6-2 senior center Mike Heier and juniors Jim Gormley (6-0 guard) and Mike Zollinger (5-8 guard). Weiser expects additional help from a 9-3 junior varsity team. "We won't have a lot of experience, but we will have an excellent group of men to choose from on our JV team," Weiser said. "We'll be a lot quicker than we have been in the past." Chuck Swanson is starting his 10th season at Sharon Springs and has three starters and two other lettermen back from a 2-14 team. The returning starters for SSHS are seniors Tim Elder (5-10 forward), Gayle Lewis (6-0 guard) and junior Chad Nowak (5-8 guard). The lettermen are 6-0 junior Gary Pancake and 5-7 sophomore David Daily. "Although we return three starters, we will still suffer from a lack of height," Swanson said. "But we should have decent guard play and quickness." Western Kansas from a 13-10 team, which placed third in the league race last season. The two returning starters are seniors Roger Emigh (6-0 forward) and Dan Spresser (6-0 guard). The Bulldogs will have some height to work with. Mike Schlageck (6-4 senior) and John Geisinger (6«-2 senior) will work on the front line. Jennings will try to improve on last year's record. Senior guard Kurt Brown (5-9) returns for the Coyotes after being named to the All-WKL team last year. Two starters and one letterman returns for Herndon coach John Trail. The Beavers won the league title with a 6-0 mark last year and finished with_a 13-7 record overall. The Beavers will be led by 5-9 senior guard Dave Leitner, an all-league performer last year when he averaged 14 points a game. Rodney Lorentz, a 54 guard, is the other returning starter. Chris Rorabaugh, starting his fifth year at Utica, welcomes two starters and a pair of lettermen back from a 4-13 team. The Dragons were fifth in the league last season. Forward Lance Thornburg (6-1 senior) and guard Kevin Basinger (5-10 junior) are the returning starters for Utica. Also back are lettermen Rich Foster and Randy Norton, a pair of 6-0 seniors. "Our team should be the darkhorse in the league this season," Rorabaugh said. "If we realize our potential, our ball club will challenge for the top spot. We have seven or eight people that will battle it out for the starting bertha and I'm looking forward to putting a very competitive team on the court." Jennings, Triplaina and Healy failed to respond to The Journal's pna&aon questionnaire.