KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City area is thriving in the hoops scene, especially on the women’s side.
NCAA Tournament season is here again, and a plethora of KC talent is spread across the country at various colleges. But the bulk of the talent still stays primarily in the Midwest.
While the area’s Big 3 schools in Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri are in the WNIT, there are still a number of reasons for local fans to tune into the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Nine-seed Marquette out of Milwaukee boasts Claire Kaifes, but an emergency appendectomy put her out for the season.
Here are a few other KC-area women who will be in the tournament.
Kennedy Townsend, Creighton, Freshman
This Park Hill alum joined a perennial mid-major power in the Bluejays and is working her way into the rotation.
In 180 minutes, Townsend has 37 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Creighton is fresh off of a run to the Elite Eight last season and hopes to go even further this year.
Six-seed Creighton faces 11-seed Mississippi State at 5 p.m. Friday.
Ryan Cobbins, Alabama, Senior
The KCK native and Piper alum is in her first year with the Crimson Tide after three years with North Dakota State.
Cobbins averages around 14 minutes a game and has 76 points, 71 rebounds and is shooting 52% from the floor.
Ten-seed Alabama plays 7-seed Baylor at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Beatrice Culliton & Payton Verhulst, Oklahoma, Freshman & Sophomore
Oklahoma boasts two players from Kansas as well and from rival high schools.
Culliton is a freshman center and helped St. Thomas Aquinas continue their run of state championships while Verhulst helped Bishop Miege continue its winning tradition as well.
Both players were top 100 recruits with Verhulst being a five-star recruit in the top 15 of the country. She transferred into Oklahoma in December after an All-ACC freshman season at Louisville. Verhulst is redshirting because of the transfer.
Culliton averages 10 points a game and received the most minutes of the season in Oklahoma’s last game, their Big 12 Tournament loss to Iowa State, the tournament champion. The 6-foot-3 center has 134 points and 99 rebounds and shoots 49% from the field.
Five-seed Oklahoma plays 12-seed Portland at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Sarah Beth Gueldner & Taedyn Gray, Drake, Senior & Freshman
The Bulldogs have two players from Kansas. Gueldner is an Olathe Northwest alum and a three-ball specialist for Drake as a senior. She averages almost 10 points a game and shoots almost 35% from three.
Additionally, Shawnee Mission West alum and freshman Gray gets spare minutes off the bench for the Bulldogs. She’s garnered 21 points and 16 rebounds in 72 minutes.
Twelve-seed Drake takes on 5-seed Louisville at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.