Road Show - Releford, Miege Advance to State

Travis Releford (S. Puppe photo)

Heading into the season, there were high expectations for Rick Zych and his talented Bishop Miege squad. Loaded with size, depth, shooters and athleticism, Miege was tagged -- along with Topeka (KS) Highland Park -- as the early favorite to take home the hardware in Kansas 5A basketball.

After a quick start, Miege hit a rough patch and found themselves with a 7-5 record after a road loss to Blue Valley Northwest. Since then, Miege has been clicking on all cylinders and with Saturday night’s 73-58 thumping of Kansas City (KS) Washington at Miege, the Stags claimed a substate title and berth in next week’s 5A State Tournament at the Topeka Expo Center.

RELEFORD, OTHERS DOING THEIR THING

Travis Releford - While Miege was going through their struggles earlier in the season, many fingers were be pointed in Releford’s direction. He was labeled overrated by some and people wondered why he wasn’t putting up “big” numbers. The fact of the matter is this, Miege has now won 10 games in a row and Releford’s play has been a major factor.

Starting off a little slowly, Releford allowed the game to come to him. He set up teammates for easy buckets, crashed the glass and waited for his opportunity to attack. That attack started midway through second quarter when he scored on a 15 foot pull up jumper going left and then split a double team at the top of the key for a sweet left handed finger role the next time down the court. The assault continued through the second half and by the time he was done, Releford had racked up 28 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. He scored in the lane, he hit mid range jumpers and also knocked down a deep three. There weren’t any college coaches on hand Saturday, but they were out on Thursday when he played in front of Mizzou’s head man Mike Anderson and assistants Tim Jankovich from Kansas and Frank Martin from Kansas State.

Willie Reed - To truly appreciate how far the pencil thin Reed has come in the last two years, one needs to have seen him this time two years ago. A ninth grader at Kansas City (MO) Ruskin, Reed wasn’t even on the high school team and played for an 8th grade PAL team. At the time he was 6-6, uncoordinated and it took him some time to get going. Fast forward to his junior season at Miege and Reed has now grown to nearly 6-10, gotten much more coordinated and he covers the floor with long graceful strides.

Finishing with 13 points and 10 boards on the night, Reed showed flashes of what’s been intriguing mid to high major college coaches all winter long. He’s capable of knocking down 12 foot jumpers, has developed a little jump hook and spins quickly for towering jams in the paint. He still needs to add weight and become a smarter shot blocker -- he’s got a tendency to swat at shots, rather than just using his length to alter and block -- but if he can continue to improve at the rapid rate he has over the last two years, he’s got a bright future.

Marcus Butler - A summer teammate of Reed’s on Matt Suther’s KC Blue (now the MoKan Players after merging with the Wichita based Kansas Players), Butler doesn’t get much offensive help at Washington. Listed at 6-4, Butler is a wing who probably stands much closer to 6-2. Despite his thin build, he’s more than happy to scrap for buckets and rebounds in the paint and it’s a good thing because his team needs that from him. His future, though, is playing on the wing exclusively and he’s got the skills to do so. He’s not a traditional jump shooter, but he is good off the dribble, has a nice pull-up game and good quickness -- especially along the baseline. He’ll likely end up at a prep school next year and an extra year to season his game won’t hurt his chances of further impressing D1 coaches.

MORE NOTES FROM SATURDAY NIGHT

At the beginning of the year it looked like Miege was stretching it a bit by listing Travis Releford at 6-5. However, the junior looks to have hit a recent growh spurt and he may have actually grown to that 6-5 size. Among those in attendance on Saturday evening was Darren Kalish the director of Adidas’ grassroots basketball programs. Kalish has put Releford on the “Adidas Nation” team a select group of kids from 2008 and 2009 who will form two teams and go through training camps focusing on skills development. Some other 2008 kids who will join him are the likes of Jrue Holiday, Larry Drew, BJ Mullens, Luke Babbit and others. … Miege senior shooting guard Chris Combs suffered a nasty cut on his chin that will more than likely require stitches. The 6-1 shooter has also been a little up and down lately as he tries to find some consistency with his shot. It’s important that Combs remain confident because somewhere along the line Miege is going to need him to make some big shots if they want to win a state championship. …

  • Total teams seen- 180.
  • Total games watched- 107.
  • Total miles traveled- 10,229.

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