KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Coach Chris Neff’s Staley men’s basketball team is No. 1 in Missouri’s Class 6.
“It’s a village of people who care about children and who care about our community and who care about athletics and what it can do for people and what it can bring to their future,” Neff said. “It’s just a committed effort to make the teams really good up here.”
“We have the pieces, the numbers, and then the love on and off the court is crazy,” said Elder Kayden Fish. “The team chemistry, you know — I have a twin brother, but I’d consider them right up there with him.”
But the Falcons’ biggest competition is two schools in the same school district: North Kansas City and Oak Park.
“To win 24 games and have an 18 match winning streak, we haven’t felt the sensation of winning since before Christmas,” said Oak Park manager Brennan Scanlon.
Oak Park’s only loss is to Staley. It’s all part of a great season for the North Kansas City School District with the Falcons and Northmen both in the top 3.
The North KC Hornets are among the best teams in the Kansas City area and Winnetonka is having its first winning season in a decade.
“Being able to walk out of town, out of all those teams, says something about Kansas City basketball,” Fish said.
Most of these Northland players and coaches are friends, but there’s a little more pressure to outrun a rival and reach their goal of a state title.
“They all play together at the community centers around and play together in the summer, so it’s definitely a friendly rivalry,” said Scanlon.
“We go as hard as we can,” said Winston Allen, an Oak Park elder. “We all know each other. It’s like a real competition. We play for bragging rights. We play for everything, so we see each other from time to time. It’s like, “Hey, we beat you” or “We beat you.” We’re all trying to win.”
Neff said it’s clear their biggest rivals are the best teams in Kansas City.
“It creates some really good environments to play in,” he said.