TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Although they differ in the coaches leading them, Topeka High girls and boys basketball both have high expectations for the season.
Returning head coach Hannah Alexander leads the girls to what could be a state championship year, considering T-High finished in 2nd in 6A last season. The boys now have a new coach, with Eric King leading the way after spending 15 seasons with Kansas City Washington.
As the two squads kicked off the year with scrimmages at the first Late Night in the Dungeon on Tuesday night, they each expressed how this could be a big year at the school.
For Alexander, her team features plenty of returning talent, led by Nijaree Canady, that already proved itself with the run it made to the state title game. Now, the Trojans have targets on their backs as a 6A favorite, which is a major change from how they felt last year.
"We had nothing to lose," Alexander said. "Nobody knew about us, so it was fun. So this year now, we've gotten everybody's attention. We need to make them respect us now. The girls have got to show out every night because they know that they're going to get everybody's best game.
"I mean, somebody is going to want to knock us off, so I think the girls are pretty disciplined. They just got to show up every day."
As for King, he has standouts back too in Da'Vonshai Harden, King Sutton and others. But he wants to get more out of a group that got upset in the sub-state round last season. He believes he can make that happen with what he brings to the table.
"Energy, passion and experience," King said. "I've been to the state championship and all that in Kansas City, Kansas at Washington High School. So I'm trying to bring that and blend it in. If they'll just listen to me and get better and become great young men, we'll have a chance to be special."