SATURDAY, Feb. 25, 2023
ALTOONA-MIDWAY HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
BUFFALO – As they had all year long, the Altoona-Midway Jets gave it their all
here Friday night.
Unfortunately, that was not quite enough to keep them from being eliminated in the
opening round of the Class 1A-Division II Sub-State Tournament, as the St. Paul Indians
posted a 60-54 victory at Milo Peterson Gymnasium.
“Although the Jets did not get the win on the scoreboard, they show much
improvement going against a St. Paul team that defeated them 67-40 earlier this season,”
said AMHS head coach Dave Vance. “We also cut our turnovers down from 21 to 12, but
St. Paul outscored us 13-1 from the charity stripe.”
While Altoona-Midway did get a home game for the opening round of the playoffs,
they had hoped for an easier opponent. The Jets actually finished in a three-way deadlock
with Hartford and Waverly for the second-best record in the sub-state. But unfortunately,
AMHS was slotted fourth seed, and had to face St. Paul, 17-point winners over the Jets
earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, Hartford and Waverly enjoyed easy first-round victories over one-win
Southern Coffey County (52-17) and winless Chetopa (66-13), respectively.
Semifinal pairings for Friday, March 3, at Waverly will match top-seeded Lebo (13-
6) against St. Paul (7-12) at 6 p.m., followed by Hartford (9-12) and Waverly (9-12) at
St. Paul jumped on Altoona-Midway early, taking a 17-8 lead after the opening
quarter and expanding that advantage to 36-22 at halftime. The Jets rallied to win the
second half by eight points and make a game of it, but fell six points short.
“There have been a few times this season when we got behind, and didn’t
understand how to battle to stay in or get back in the game,” Vance said. “The guys
figured that out at the end of this season and showed a lot of heart and resiliency. Their players also did a fantastic job of executing the game plan offensively and defensively; we just didn’t hit enough of our shots to come out victorious on the scoreboard.”
William Stackhouse ripped the nets for 22 points for the Jets, while Jacob Meigs and
Kieran Foster fired in 11 and 10 points, respectively. Rounding out the scoring for AMHS
were Brandon Johnson and Andy Tiger with four points each, and Blaine Collins with
Trey Peters led St Paul with 23 points and Zackary Kirkpatrick was tough in the
paint with 13.
Stackhouse also pulled down 11 rebounds while Meigs grabbed seven and Tiger six.
Meigs also came up with five steals, while Foster had three.
Altoona-Midway bids farewell to four seniors: Brandon Johnson, Harley Lopeman,
Chase Nalley, and Andy Tiger.
“We will miss our four seniors, but with a great group of young men returning, I am
expecting big things from them next season,” Vance said. “They have shown a lot of
growth in all areas of the game – and life in general.”
Coach Vance also gave a detailed recap of his squad after his first-season at the
“I don’t think Coach (Jessica) Porter and I quite knew what we were getting into
when we signed on to coach basketball here some three months ago,” Vance said, “but I
believe we are both happy with the decision, and it has been a very rewarding experience.
These teams are like family to us, and so is this school.
“Let me give you an example. My first practice here, my first experience with the
players. We were doing a drill where players must circle the ball around and through their
legs in a figure-8 movement all while walking or running up and down the court. None of
them had done this drill before. One of our players was having a lot of difficulty and was
way behind the others, when suddenly one of the players that had finished, sprinted to the
other end of the court to assist that player in finishing the drill; that told me a lot about the
character of that player, this team, and this school.
“Another great example of character, and a little sense of humor happened in the last
couple of weeks. I usually have music playing for the players while they run many of their
drills, and I have a playlist all set up. Earlier in the week, I had added the National Anthem
to the playlist as I had added it to play before one of the games.
“I am sitting on the bench talking to a couple of the girls’ team members and one of
my players; the rest of team is at one end of the court practicing. The playlist is playing
and then the National Anthem comes on. Us that are sitting look at each other with
question marks on our faces, and then look at the team. They had all stopped practicing,
had their hands on their hearts, and they were looking at the flag. We all started laughing,
because it was so unexpected, but on the other hand, it was great to see.
“This season we have two freshmen, Dr. Blake Nalley and Kage Beck.
“Blake has shown great improvement throughout the season, and he is the “man
behind the scenes” making sure everything is ready to go for the games and the bus rides.
Kage has also worked extremely hard and is the most improved free throw shooter on the
team. His upbeat and positive attitude contributes greatly to the team. He is a freshman this
season, but his future is very bright.
“Sophomore Joey Lamendola is the entertainer. He is our practical joker that always
keeps the mood very light, even at some odd times. His claim to fame is his half-court
shot, which he works on a lot, possibly a little too much. Joey has come on strong lately
with much greater focus on improving his game.
“Sophomore Kieran Foster. Kieran is a 3-point shooter extraordinaire. Kieran has a
vast knowledge of the game of basketball and the people that play the game. He oversees
jams on the bus and the boy band that entertains us on the bus rides. I see him being a
coach someday, and he does not need to be satisfied staying at the high school level. He
has also played this entire season with a torn rotator cuff, not wanting to miss out on the
season, he will hopefully get this repaired immediately afterwards.
“Sophomore William Stackhouse is the most efficient player on the team. He makes
a very high percentage of his shots and leads us in rebounding. William is our team
captain; he leads by example but is also becoming more vocal in his leadership. William
put in many extra hours working on his game this season, and with more hard work, the
sky is the limit for him.
“Junior Blaine Collins is the man I spoke of earlier that sprinted down the court at
practice to help his teammate. I don’t think I have seen him run that fast since then,”
Vance joked. “Blaine hits the boards hard and is extremely tough on the defensive end.
Blaine and Kieran are the vocal leaders of our team, and if you know Blaine, he does not
need a microphone to be heard.
“Junior Jacob Meigs steers the ship for us. He is the main person responsible for
getting the ball up-court and getting us into our offense. He is becoming a leader; he may
have a quiet demeanor about him, but he is such a steadying a calming influence on his
teammates that they will listen to him and follow his example.”
“Andy Tiger is the big man that owns the paint. If you get the ball inside to Andy,
you get a basket. He may pad his rebounding stats by missing his first shot then getting the
rebound and making the second shot, but you will get a basket. Andy is a great teammate
with a great sense of humor. He insists on rubbing my head before the games for luck,
which is why I don’t have any hair. OK, maybe that’s not the reason.
“Brandon Johnson is a very determined young man and an extremely hard worker.
He loves driving to the basket and using his speed and “shiftiness” to get around defenders
to score or pass it off to a teammate for an easy basket. Early in the season we were
practicing one of our inbounds plays and Branden commented “coach we’re Altoona
Midway and we’re not that smart.” Of course, he was joking when he said that, but they
can now run those inbounds plays.
“Harley Lopeman is the man behind the scenes as a senior, maybe Blake learned
from him. He also makes sure everything is ready for game day. Harley exemplifies the
word hustle. If you have ever seen the energizer bunny commercials, that is Harley.
Blessed with speed and stamina, his battery never runs down. The only thing that slowed
him was tearing a meniscus midway through the season, but then returning to practice two
“Chase Nalley is one of the better shooters on the team. When he is open, and gets
his feet set, he is deadly. Chase is also deadly with his dance moves. If you watch practice
or pregame warmup and a song with a good beat comes on, you will see some dance
moves. I’m not sure what Chase plans on doing after basketball, but I think his future
could be in Hollywood.”
“I also must give a shout out to the girls’ team,” Vance added. “Playing with six
players this season, going up against teams with 12 players and twice the height, they have
shown a lot of courage and competitiveness. They have never backed down from any