Boys basketball advances to sub-state championship game

The boys basketball team earned the opportunity to play for the sub-state championship after defeating SMN tonight, 78-57.

Liz Kuhlmann, Sports Editor

The Blue Valley Northwest basketball team had one goal in mind as they took the floor for their first sub-state basketball game against Shawnee Mission North: win. According to senior Vince Fritz, the formula to achieve that outcome came from taking good shots, having solid defense, staying out of foul trouble and making plays for others. The Huskies achieved this and more as they took a twenty point victory over the Indians, 78-57, to advance to the championship game Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

BVNW jumped to an early lead after senior Ben Richardson got the ball rolling by forcing a turnover and hitting senior Clay Custer for a transition layup. What followed during that quarter were multiple treys by senior Vince Fritz and various forced turnovers on the defensive end by Richardson and senior Kyle Harrison. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the Huskies were up, 19-10.

“Personally I felt I played pretty well,” Fritz said. “I hit my shots and I was looking for the basket and my teammates.”

The Huskies continued to move the ball around swiftly in the second quarter, averaging five or six passes per possession. The team continued their streak from beyond the arc, and senior David Salach contributed an impressive slam dunk off of a rebound. However, as the Huskies continue to rack up points, they also racked up fouls and struggled to board.

“We played well in spurts,” Custer said. “I don’t think we played very good defense but we made our shots. Rebounding wise, we could’ve done better. We didn’t get some loose balls that we should have. We’re a little undersized. David does a great job rebounding. His real position when he goes to college is actually not what he plays for us, so he gives up a lot for us and our team to make us better. It’s awesome.”

Despite the defensive struggles, the Huskies maintained their lead throughout the second quarter and entered half time up 34-21. Head coach Ed Fritz said he did not believe his team played with the passion they should have in the first half and instructed the Huskies on how to improve their defense in the huddle.

“We tried to play harder,” Custer said. “We wanted to move the ball around better. We just need to get in and work harder on our defensive intensity. We knew it was a one verses eight game and we kind of knew that we would get this one. Which is not how we should have done it. We’ll be better next game.”

BVNW came out of the half by adding a flurry of points to the score board. Offensively, the team picked up their pace and attempted to force more turnovers and gain more transition layups. Defensively, Ed said the team focused on shutting down SMS sophomore Michael Weathers who had most of the Indian’s points in the first half. After creating a solid 15-20 point lead, tensions began to rise throughout the SMN team only worsening after a technical was called on SMN sophomore Greg Sloan midway through the quarter.

“They were [pushing and shoving unnecessarily] the whole game,” Fritz said. “We were told about it before the game, and it happens. It’s part of the game and you have to play through it.”

The Huskies lengthened their lead to 24 at the end of the quarter, as they led the Indians 64-40. As BVNW embarked on the final quarter of the game, they hit a thirty point lead and according to KSHSAA rules a running clock was enforced for the remainder of the game. After Salach added another dunk and Harrison and Fritz each added on a pair of treys, Ed took out his starters and sent in his bench for the remainder of the game. The Huskies pulled away with the win and advanced to the championship game on Saturday.

According to Ed, he wants the defense to improve before the team plays Shawnee Mission East on Saturday. The Lancers will prove to be a more difficult challenge, Ed said, and he wants his team to be more prepared. Custer agrees with his coach, and believes as long as the team shoots like they can, he knows the Huskies will be hard to beat.

However, Saturday will mark the last home game for the senior class; some of which who have been playing together since they were kids. Custer said the thought that he has only four games left with his teammates is the worst part about the season coming to an end.

“It sucks,” Custer said. “We’ve had a really good run. We’ve won a lot of games here (at BVNW). I’m more sad that I’m only going to get to play with these guys for four more games. I love the players on this team. It’s going to be sad when it’s all done and we will never get to play with each other again.”

Fritz agrees with Custer, and said he is ready to play and win on Saturday night.

“I want to go out and play really well with all my teammates and go get a state championship,” Fritz said.