Second half troubles hand BVNW their first loss in 55-50 loss to Hazelwood Central

The boys varsity basketball team lost their first game of the season Saturday night against Hazelwood Central. Junior guard Christian Braun led the Huskies in scoring with 13 points in the 55-50 loss.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-Chief

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Blue Valley Northwest boys varsity basketball team has been no stranger to tough non-conference matchups in recent years. The Huskies matchup with the Hawks from Hazelwood Central was no different, and the game was a back-and-forth affair for the majority of the night.

With 30.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, junior guard Christian Braun drove by Hazelwood Central senior guard Shaun Williams and appeared to have an open lane to the basket. At what appeared to be the last millisecond, a Hazelwood defender slid in and took a charge, fouling the Huskies junior guard out with 13 points. After the charge, Braun’s third offensive foul of the night, a technical foul was assessed to the BVNW bench.

“I thought we got a few questionable calls, may not have been charges,” head coach Ed Fritz said, “and we just didn’t get the hand-check that they were getting on us.”

After the technical foul and a pair of missed free throws by Hazelwood Central senior forward Xavier Ball, the Huskies got another opportunity to send the game to overtime. On the ensuing offensive possession, the Huskies ran an offensive set that got senior forward Parker Braun an open 3 at the top of the arc, but it went long and clanked off the rim, closing the book on a disappointing second half for the Huskies.

“I saw about three seconds on the clock,” Parker said. “I thought maybe I’d throw one up and hope for a long rebound or another chance but it just didn’t fall.”

The Huskies fell victim to a 19-4 run by Hazelwood Central to end the game and did not see a shot go through the basket after a baseline drive by freshman guard Jack Chapman gave them a 50-43 lead with 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. As the offense failed them down the stretch, BVNW would drop their first game of the season, 50-55, and fall to 2-1 on the season.

The game saw 9 lead changes in the first quarter alone with neither team able to gain a lead larger than 2 points. In a matchup between the Kansas State commit in Hazelwood’s Williams, and Christian Braun, who has received interest from the Wildcats, it was Christian that was able to get the early edge.

The Huskies junior guard drained two 3-point attempts in the first half and the Huskies ended the first half on a 9-0 run to send Northwest into the locker room with a 33-24 lead. Christian, who scored 11 points in the first half, said he enjoyed matching up against Williams.

“Oh, it was fun,” Christian said. “After the game I talked to him. It was fun. He was tough, he was in me the whole game, he was talking in my ear so it was fun, it was a learning experience obviously.”

Williams’, who tied Christian as the game-high scorer with 13 points, glowed with praise when talking about Braun’s play in the first half.

“It was a great matchup,” Williams said. “He’s a good basketball player. He can shoot, dribble and I really like his style of play. He was a good competition for me tonight.”

In the second half Christian went quiet, scoring just 2 points and exiting the game after fouling out with 15.5 seconds remaining in the game. He said the pressure of the Hawks was something he and the rest of the Northwest guards did a poor job of dealing with.

“First half I was way more aggressive than I was in the second half,” Christian said. “They started pressuring us and we didn’t do a good job of getting it past half court and that’s partially my fault, should’ve gotten the ball but I just wasn’t as aggressive.”

The Huskies scored just four points in the fourth quarter as Fritz said the Hawks defense clamped down on the Huskies offense with an effective full-court press.

“Starting the fourth quarter they kind of cranked up the pressure and we did a really poor job of just executing and we stopped getting the ball inside,” Fritz said. “We went one-on-one… and we’ve gotta do better and we’ve gotta handle the pressure better.”

After tying his career-high in scoring with 21 points apiece in the Huskies first two games this year, senior guard Sam Ward was held in check all night long against the Hawks, scoring just 5 points.

“In our first two games Sam may have been our best player,” Fritz said, “and tonight he wasn’t. So, we’ve gotta figure out how to get a little more consistency out of everybody.”

The Huskies loss was their first ever in the Ozark Mountain Shootout, a competition they have played in since its inception in 2012. With the loss, Northwest falls to 2-1 this season. The Huskies will travel to Avila University for a neutral-court game against Lee’s Summit West on Saturday Dec. 16. Tip-off against the Titans is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Christian said the Huskies will come out looking to rebound from their loss.

“Gotta bounce back and get a win. We don’t want to sit on this losing feeling for another week so it’s important for us to get a win, that’s all we want to do.”