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No. 3 Huskies knock off No. 1 Mustangs, 69-58

The varsity boys basketball team defeated the No. 1 team in Kan. 6A rankings, Blue Valley North in a 69-58 win Wednesday Dec. 20. Senior guard Sam Ward went for a career-high 22 points to lead all scorers in the game.

Paul Walsh

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-Chief

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For the sixth consecutive game, over a course of the past three years, Ed Fritz and his Blue Valley Northwest Huskies defeated the Blue Valley North Mustangs. In Wednesday night’s installment of the BVNW-BVN rivalry, the No. 3 ranked team in Kansas Class 6A, BVNW, defeated the No. 1 ranked Mustangs, 69-58.

The Huskies controlled the game from tip-off as senior forward Parker Braun was able to control the game from inside and out in the first quarter. Braun knocked down a 3 on the opening possession and keyed a 10-0 run in the first 3:09 of the game for the Huskies.

“I liked how we started,” Fritz said. “I like how the guys were locked in, and so I was really pleased with that.”

The Huskies were able to force the Mustangs into 4 turnovers in the first two minutes of game action, which Braun said was in large part due to an outstanding scouting report by the Huskies coaching staff.

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Ben Brown

“I thought the coaches set us up well,” Braun, who scored 14 points for the night said. “We pretty much knew everything they were going to do. We knew what defenses, we knew how to break their press, we knew how to attack holes. We knew what they were looking for.”

In a game the Huskies never trailed, it was the play of their senior big men, Braun and Joe Pleasant which for the second game in a row outplayed their matchups. The Mustangs senior forward Miles Emery was held to a modest 10 points for the game, while Pleasant had 16 for the Huskies. Pleasant said having played Emery in previous years he knew what was needed to control his matchup.

“I knew defensively to stay down and let him take a wild shot on me, see if he can shoot over me, you know just be straight up,” Pleasant said, “and if he makes it that’s a tough shot. Then offensively, I knew just to attack him and try to get him in foul trouble early.”

The Huskies went into halftime leading the Mustangs, 31-23, but a quiet first half for senior guard Sam Ward was quickly erased in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Ward, who scored just 3 points in the first half Wednesday night found his offense and exploded for 19 second half points. Fritz said the Huskies ran a few simple ball screens to free up Ward’s offense in the second half.

“We tried to kind of run a couple of high ball picks for him to create a little less pressure, and he was able to find some seams and hit some shots off of that so that was pretty impressive.”

Ward capped off his career-high scoring night with a behind-the-back move in transition to lay it in with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Huskies a 64-49 lead.

“Sam can really shoot it,” Pleasant said. “Sam is a great scorer and he’s a high-level scorer. He can do a lot of things with the ball offensively.”

Pullquote Photo

I’m trying to keep this tradition that we always beat them. I’m not trying to lose to them anytime soon”

— Joe Pleasant

“Sam always has those kind of games,” senior guard Max Johnson said, of Ward’s career night. “It’s more of a mental game for him and it clicked for him tonight.”

Fritz said despite the Mustangs being a top team in the state over the past couple of years, the ability of the Huskies to have so much success against them has been great.

“Every time we play them it’s tough,” Fritz said. “We’ve been very fortunate to be on the good end of the score the majority of the time, so we’re going to keep trying to do that.”

Pleasant, who has not lost to the Mustangs since his freshman year, said he wants to keep that trend going.

“I’m trying to keep this as long as I’m here,” Pleasant said. “I’m trying to keep this tradition that we always beat them. I’m not trying to lose to them anytime soon.”

The Huskies win moved them to 3-2 and helped them move to 1-0 in Eastern Kansas League play. Blue Valley Northwest takes on Park Hill South Saturday Jan. 6 at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School as part of the 810 Varsity Showcase. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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No. 3 Huskies knock off No. 1 Mustangs, 69-58