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Road to state: A journey through the 2016-17 boys basketball season
Take a look back through the 2016-17 boys varsity basketball season with short recaps of the season's games.
March 8, 2017
BVNW pulls away from Mill Valley in season-opener
Dec. 2 2016: Blue Valley Northwest 78 Mill Valley 53
In their first game of the season, the Huskies come out with a lackluster effort in the first half. Mill Valley junior guard Cooper Kaifes gave the Huskies fits throughout the first half from beyond the 3-point arc, tying the game 30-30 at the half. A 13-2 run to start the third quarter gave BVNW a commanding lead, on their way to a 78-53 win, behind senior guard Darien Jackson’s team-high 18 points.
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Huskies upset No. 14 ranked team in the nation in neutral court matchup
Huskies upset No. 14 ranked team in the nation in neutral court matchup
Dec. 10 2016: Blue Valley Northwest 60 St. Louis Vashon 56
For the second straight game senior guard Darien Jackson scored a team-high 18 points, as BVNW upset the No. 14 ranked team in the nation- St. Louis Vashon- according to USA Today High School Sports. Senior guard Jamicheal Morgan threw down a one-handed slam over a Vashon defender early in the third quarter to give BVNW a 34-30 lead.
With great results, the Huskies stick to a zone defense for much of the game, something head coach Ed Fritz said is not normally the case. Despite pulling off the upset, the Huskies shot 9/21 from the free throw line, something Fritz was extremely disappointed about.
“I’m really disappointed we didn’t execute better down the stretch,” Fritz said.
Miege hands BVNW first loss of season in early showdown
Dec. 14 2016: Bishop Miege 63 Blue Valley Northwest 54
BVNW goes on the road for their first true road game of the season. Bishop Miege sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and senior forward Francesco Badocchi present plenty of issues in the paint for the Huskies, disrupting their offensive flow all night.
“When we drove we didn’t look for our teammates, we tried to score,” Fritz said. “We’ve just got people who can’t do that, especially with [Miege’s] height.”
The Huskies take their first loss of the season, losing to Bishop Miege 63-54, in a game where Fritz said the Huskies were not ready to compete.
“It was pretty evident we weren’t ready for the challenge.”
The Huskies fall to 2-1 on the season with this loss.
Huskies respond from first loss, win rivalry game at BVN
Dec. 21 2016: Blue Valley Northwest 55 Blue Valley North 52
After taking their first loss of the season, the Huskies responded with a 55-52 road victory against rival Blue Valley North.
Junior forward Parker Braun battled through first half foul trouble, introducing himself as a scoring threat with 12 second half points, including the first eight points of the third quarter for BVNW. Fritz said he was especially excited about the Huskies response after losing to Bishop Miege a week prior to the game.
“Anytime you can beat Blue Valley North it’s a good day,” Fritz said.
BVNW wins EKL battle over BVHS, 65-56
Jan. 6 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 65 Blue Valley 56
Braun’s foul trouble issues present themselves again, as his playing time is limited in the first and second halves due to quick fouls, something Fritz said he must learn from.
“[Braun]’s gotta learn how to play [with foul trouble],” Fritz said. “When you have three fouls you can’t leave your feet, you gotta just stay down. He’s big enough to build a wall where they have to shoot over you.”
For the first time all season, Darien Jackson did not lead the Huskies in points as Jamicheal Morgan scored a team-high 16 points. The Huskies were able to pull away late as they held BVHS to four points in the fourth quarter, en route to a 65-56 win.
Monster effort from BVNW bigs leads the way
Jan. 7 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 79 Lee’s Summit North 68
In their first back-to-back of the season, BVNW came out on top against Lee’s Summit North in the first session of the Best of the Midwest Showcase, hosted at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Despite the win, Fritz was disappointed with the Huskies effort level again.
“I really was kind of disappointed with our enthusiasm, our effort,” Fritz said. “I don’t think we made a lot of hustle plays. Our rebounding wasn’t what we like it to be. That being said it was an even game at halftime and we were able to kind of close out the game in pretty convincing fashion.”
Junior forward Joe Pleasant added 17 points to the effort as the Huskies were led by Pleasant, Parker Braun and sophomore forward Jacob Clark, who combined for 41 points. Fritz said he wanted to see them get the ball inside even more than they did all night.
“I don’t think we got it to them enough,” Fritz said. “We were able to come out at the start of the second half and we scored three straight times on a post play, and we’ve got to continue to try to be able to do that.”
Huskies dominate Border Classic
Jan. 19 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 93 Joplin High 35
Jan. 20 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 80 Neosho 33
Jan. 21 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 80 Pittsburg High 54
Exerting their dominance in the Border Classic hosted by Pittsburg High, the Huskies steamroll all three of their opponents for the weekend. The Huskies cruise to a tournament championship defeating Joplin High, Neosho and Pittsburg High by an astounding average margin of victory of 43.6 points per game.
Huskies survive thriller, sweep season series against BVN
Jan. 24 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 61 Blue Valley North 59
Extending their win streak to seven games, the Huskies pull out a comeback victory after squandering countless early opportunities to distance themselves from the Mustangs.
“We didn’t have much composure on offense,” Fritz said. “We made some really bad decisions, and that kind of kept us from breaking the game open early.”
Parker Braun anchors down the Huskies defense, blocking six shots on the night. The Huskies trailed BVN 47-41 with 7:00 left in the fourth quarter before mounting a comeback. The Huskies score 20 points for the remainder of the quarter, highlighted by a two-handed slam by Joe Pleasant to give BVNW a 55-50 lead with 2:23 left in the quarter.
BVNW went on to defeat BVN for the second time this season, 61-59.
STA shuts down BVNW offense
Jan. 27 2017: St. Thomas Aquinas 52 Blue Valley Northwest 35
After an unusually bad offensive personal night-scoring only three points total- against BVN, Darien Jackson scores 17 points, but the rest of the Huskies offense fails to show up in a road test at St. Thomas Aquinas. No other BVNW player scored more than four points as the Huskies took their second loss of the season.
Fritz said this loss showed an extremely poor trend for Northwest.
“I don’t know [if it will serve as a wake-up call],” Fritz said. “We’re going to have to find out and see. I just felt like we kind of bicker a lot with each other during the game. We bicker with the refs, and I just don’t think that’s conducive to playing good basketball.”
BVNW dominates GEHS, behind Braun’s 18
Jan. 31 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 75 Gardner Edgerton 38
BVNW responds after their loss to Aquinas, dominating GEHS in a 75-38 win. Parker Braun leads the way with 18 points, highlighted by four dunks including one in which he dunked over a GEHS defender.
BVNW handles BVSW easily in Sweetheart Game
Feb. 3 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 58 Blue Valley Southwest 24
With 10 made three-point baskets, the Huskies hit the Timberwolves with an arsenal of perimeter shots, blowing out BVSW 58-24 in the Sweetheart Game. Junior guard Sam Ward got his first start of the season, before hitting four threes against the Timberwolves zone defense, to score 12 points on the night.
Bishop Miege sweeps Huskies, as BVNW takes first home loss of season
Feb. 7 2017: Bishop Miege 72 Blue Valley Northwest 57
For the second time this season, the Huskies lost to the Stags, this time on their home court. Again Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Francesco Badocchi were too much for BVNW, pounding the Huskies on the glass and converting countless second-chance points. Bishop Miege senior guard Semaj Ray and Robinson-Earl score 21 and 22 points respectively, as the Stags win this one comfortably over the Huskies.
Huskies begin four game in five night stretch with road win at BVW
Feb. 10 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 50 Blue Valley West 17
The Huskies dominate this one from start to finish, leading at one point in the second quarter 23-2. Again, Parker Braun got himself in foul trouble and was unable to play for much of the first half before scoring all of his team-high 12 points in the second half.
“I wasn’t really thinking, just kind of making dumb plays going up for rebounds I shouldn’t of,” Braun said. “I was being a little too aggressive and second half they were just playing well, passing the ball well, we were running everything [well].”
This game would mark the start of a stretch where BVNW would play four games in five nights.
BVNW wins double-overtime instant classic over Chaminade (Mo.)
Feb. 11 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 87 Chaminade (Mo.) 83 (2 OT)
A rescheduled second session of the Best of the Midwest Showcase saw Blue Valley Northwest host the five-game slate. In the late night finale, the Huskies went up against the Red Devils of Chaminade, one of the top teams in the St. Louis area. BVNW trailed at the half 35-26 after allowing Chaminade to go on an 18-0 run during a stretch in which the Huskies failed to score for 6:12 of game action. Darien Jackson had a career-high 30 point performance, but the most important play of the night was an alley-oop pass that Parker Braun would lay in, tying the game 71-71 with 33.3 seconds left in regulation.
“I was in my bag. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Jackson said. “I was using everything I had, I used all my abilities.”
The Huskies and Red Devils exchanged blows in the overtime periods, going back and forth before Jamicheal Morgan extending the BVNW lead with 9.9 seconds left in double overtime with a steal and layup that put the score at 87-83, where it would stay.
Huskies roll Rams behind Ward’s career night
Feb. 13 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 87 Hogan Prep 62
The Huskies won their third-straight game as Sam Ward had a career-high 21 points on a night where the Huskies offense was clicking. Ward proved he could be the key to a state championship, showing flashes of brilliant play as well as a few plays that left Fritz and others scratching their heads.
“Sam gives us a different dimension than everybody else because he can shoot the ball,” Fritz said. “We ride him when he can hit them, and when he’s not hitting them we kind of go to somebody else. If he picks his defense up, he’s going to be one hell of a player.”
Jackson scores 27 to lead BVNW past Mill Valley
Feb. 14 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 82 Mill Valley 52
In a Valentine’s Day clash, the Huskies ran away with this contest, rolling the Jaguars in a 30-point win. After his career-high 30 points against Chaminade the Saturday prior, Darien Jackson came up just short of that mark, scoring 27 on this night. Jackson averaged 25.3 points per game over the three-game span of Chaminade, Hogan and Mill Valley. BVNW moved to 15-3 on the season with this win.
BVNW wins Senior Night game, lock up No. 1 substate seed
Feb. 17 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 68 Blue Valley 63
Senior guard Willy Pegues got his first start of his career on senior night and came out firing. Pegues hit his first of two 3’s with 5:34 left in the first quarter.
“It was just a good environment,” Pegues, who scored eight points said. “I felt good during warmups and after I made my first three I just felt hot the whole time.”
The win locked up a No. 1 seed in sub-state play for the Huskies.
BVNW earns co-EKL championship crown
Feb. 24 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 69 St. James Academy 51
After a Blue Valley North victory over St. Thomas Aquinas, and BVNW’s victory over SJA, the Huskies earned the title of co-EKL champions, shared between an astounding four teams. Bishop Miege, Blue Valley, Blue Valley Northwest and St. Thomas Aquinas would all tie for the league title.
After making his commitment to the University of Tulsa earlier in the week, Darien Jackson said he was able to play stress-free basketball, leading to his team-high 20 points.
“All the stress is off my shoulders,” Jackson said. “I finally just get to play and don’t have to worry about anything.”
BVNW pulls away from BVW late, moves to substate final
March 1 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 56 Blue Valley West 34
In the first game of postseason play, BVNW was able to defeat BVW 56-34 in a game that the Huskies knew would be played differently than their first matchup.
“We knew they were going to make every possession as long as they could,” head coach Ed Fritz said about the Jaguars offense.
Unlike their first matchup with BVW, a blowout, this game was close until Sam Ward hit a 3 with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter to give BVNW a 38-29 lead.
“That was a really big three that Sam hit,” Jackson said of Ward’s three which sparked a 9-0 Huskies run. “When he made that, it boosted our momentum and we just kept going from there.”
Darien Jackson and AJ Pleasant led the way for the Huskies, scoring 14 and 12 points each to advance to the substate final against Gardner Edgerton, who beat Olathe South 54-51 in their semifinal matchup.
Huskies punch ticket to Wichita
March 3 2017: Blue Valley Northwest 72 Gardner Edgerton 35
The Huskies punch their ticket to the state tournament in Wichita after dismantling Gardner Edgerton, 72-35, in their substate final matchup. AJ Pleasant led the Huskies in scoring with 14 points.
“When [AJ]’s in attack mode nobody can stop him,” senior guard Darien Jackson said of Pleasant’s offensive scoring and facilitating.
With the win, the Huskies clinched another state tournament appearance, their seventh in the past eight years, a run Fritz described as “really remarkable.”
Despite their success, the pressure on the Huskies remains as Fritz said this team has matured heading into the state tournament.
“We’ve got a little bit more experience [this year],” Fritz said. “The same guys are playing that played last year. [We’re] a little more mature. But, it’s really hard because we’re number one in state all year from the first ranking all the way to the end, so there’s some pressure with it.”