Take a look at the schedules of local high schools and one will find games with schools from Missouri and Oklahoma on the schedule before league play starts in full swing the last week of January and the first week of February.

Take a look at the schedules of local high schools and one will find games with schools from Missouri and Oklahoma on the schedule before league play starts in full swing the last week of January and the first week of February.

Kansas coaches find out that Missouri and Oklahoma teams play a style of basketball not always found in the more familiar opponents of the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee, Southeast Kansas and Three Rivers leagues.

“Nevada and other Missouri teams play a different brand of basketball,” Girard head girls basketball coach Brad Herlocker said.

“It is a extremely physical game in Missouri, so it toughens you up for the rest of your schedule.”

The Girard girls beat Nevada (Mo.) 57-47 and the boys lost 61-46 at Girard High School.

Southeast traveled down to Commerce, Okla., hometown of Mickey Mantle, for two games Dec. 14 and the Tigers of Commerce swept both games.

Lancer head girls basketball coach Nikki Webster said that Southeast lost a heartbreaker, 48-43, as Southeast led most of the game until mental errors and fatigue caught up with the girls in the fourth quarter.

“Commerce is a very good basketball team,” Webster said. “Bigger and more physical than we will probably see the rest of the season.”

Missouri and Oklahoma schools begin their season at least a week earlier than Kansas and have three-five more games on their early-season schedule.

Liberal (Mo.) crossed state lines into hostile territory at Northeast and Frontenac two consecutive high school hoops nights and Liberal’s girls picked up a resounding sweep of the Vikings and the Raiders.

The Northeast girls lost by 32 points to Liberal (55-23) as two Liberal players combined for 30 points and Northeast played its worst game of the year.

“Our girls didn’t come to play,” Northeast head coach Lori Murphy said. “We were outhustled, outplayed and they wanted it more than we did.”

Liberal brought its A game the next evening against a Frontenac team which entered the game 3-0 on the early season; Liberal won 48-33.

“They came in and set the tone,” Frontenac head coach Matt Holtzman said. “I told our girls, ‘We have to come out and set the tone.’ That’s exactly what they did.”

St. Mary’s Colgan began its season with three straight Missouri schools: Jasper, McDonald County and Carl Junction. Only Jasper was a home game.

“We’re playing the Missouri teams because we’re having a difficult time getting people to schedule us,” Colgan head boys basketball coach Wayne Cichon said. “The Missouri teams are the ones who are available.”

The Colgan boys have Seneca, Nevada, Webb City and Lamar on their schedule in January and February; the girls will face Seneca, Liberal and Lamar. Plus, both Colgan teams have the possibility of facing additional Missouri opponents playing in Liberal’s Tony Dubray Classic (Jan. 17-22).

Tough opponents faced early in the season often prepare teams for down the road of a long season.

“We’re locked in with some Missouri schools,” Cichon said. “Some of them are bigger schools. We want to play good competition because that’s how you get better.”

Herlocker said tough out-of-state opponents prepare the girls for diverse opponents with different playing styles in substate and state tournament play. He said that, early in the season, a Missouri team has a competitive advantage over a Kansas team because of the difference in games played.

“We like that challenge,” Herlocker said.

Webster said out-of-state teams present challenges in tempo as well as physicality and lack of familiarity.

“These are good challenges that we would rather face early in the season with a team we won’t see again come league and substate time,” Webster said.

Crawford County schools have a combined 7-10 record this season against Missouri and Oklahoma teams.

Note: Pittsburg High School faces its first Missouri opponent Jan. 7 at home against Neosho. However, Pittsburg did travel 154 miles and approximately 3 hours west Tuesday to face Arkansas City.