Girls basketball team faces loss to Shawnee Mission South in first game of the season

Shawnee Mission South defeats the girls basketball team, 48-49, after the Huskies’ 20-point comeback.

Cara Brashears, Online Editor

With free throws flying and anticipation growing in the last few minutes of the Blue Valley Northwest girls varsity basketball  game against Shawnee Mission South, the Huskies (0-1) came close to grabbing the win, but trailed the Raiders (1-0) 48-49 as the buzzer sounded. However, with the Raiders leading by over 20 points during the first half, head coach Brian Bubalo said he is amazed at how his girls fought back.

“When you’re down 20 points against a team on their own court, and you come back and give yourself a chance to win, you’ve done a good job,” Bubalo said.

The Huskies and Raiders stayed fairly tight for the first few minutes of the game, battling back and forth with free throws and layups. SMS then when on 12-0 run, putting a few three-pointers and free throws of their own on the board, upping the score to 8-20 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Raiders widened the gap up to 8-28, then finished the half 23-35.

“We had a disastrous second quarter,” Bubalo said. “Too many turnovers, and we missed some good shots. We had some good shots, but didn’t get any offensive rebounds. Then, we made a fantastic comeback.”

About halfway through the third quarter, junior Taylor Cowell and sophomore Mya Mertz put up a few back-to-back layups, closing the gap and sparking energy in the girls’ footsteps. The fourth quarter proved to hold even more fire, as Mertz put up another five points and sophomore Holly Hull swished a clean jump shot. The Huskies finally pulled ahead, 46-45, after a layup by senior Scout Watson.

“I was just looking to get to the basket,” Watson said. “I looked for open people like Mya, to dish it to her since she was getting a bunch [of baskets]. I was also trying to get to the free throw line, since the referees were calling a lot of fouls.”

Watson’s wish was granted, and a free throw battle filled the last minute of the game. Each team added points one by one, and with 0.6 seconds left and the Raiders up 47-49, a SMS free throw bounced off the rim and Watson was fouled. Making one of her two free throws, the game ended with a final score 48-49.

“I really wish I would’ve made that last free throw…but overall I thought our performance was good,” Watson said. “We worked hard.”

Watson finished her game with 10 points, and Mertz with 15. Bubalo said the girls’ better success in the second half came from their stronger man-to-man defense, as well as improved rebounding and better execution of the zone defense.

“I was very proud of my team,” Bubalo said. “I was proud of their effort, I was proud of their concentration and their teamwork. I was overall happy with how we played, especially coming back after that second quarter.”

Watson said the team’s comeback from that large point spread shows that she and her teammates will never give up the rest of the season, no matter what the score may be.

“We are going to fight through everything no matter what, it doesn’t matter who’s in, everyone’s going to work hard and play well together,” Watson said.

Bubalo said although it is still hard for him to tell how the team will do the rest of the season, since this is his first year in the district and he is not familiar with many of the other teams, he believes consistency will be key for the rest of the girls’ games.

“I think a lot of the competition we’ll play is like this team, so I anticipate a lot of close games,” Bubalo said. “But if we just eliminate that stretch we had in the second quarter, and play consistently, I like our chances.”

For more on what Bubalo brings to the team as a new coach, the team’s goals, preparation and strengths, read BVNWnews’ season preview. The girls will play their next game against Blue Valley Southwest tomorrow, Friday Dec. 6 at BVNW at 7pm.