No. 1 Huskies drop No. 4 Mustangs, 65-48

The varsity boys basketball team defeated Blue Valley North, 65-48, Friday Jan. 12 at BVN. Senior guard Sam Ward scored a game-high 18 points.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

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In a battle between two of the top teams in the state of Kansas, the No. 1 ranked Blue Valley Northwest Huskies found themselves in a familiar position Friday night. At the half, the Huskies held a 34-26 lead over the No. 4 Mustangs, behind a sharp-shooting first half from the Northwest starting backcourt.

The Huskies offense was able to create opportunities early and often for senior guard Sam Ward and junior guard Christian Braun, who combined for five first half three-pointers.

“We really tried to just come out and move the ball side-to-side then go into our offense,” head coach Ed Fritz said. “It seemed to do a good job of moving around [the Mustangs defense] and their bigs didn’t want to come out and guard our bigs much, so I think it helped the spacing and then the drives were a little bit more open.”

Braun, who scored all 9 of his first half points from behind the arc, said it was important to finally see his shot falling from deep.

“It was good because throughout the rest of the season I haven’t been shooting that well,” Braun said. “It felt good to knock some down.”

Just as has been the case throughout the 2017-18 season, the problem for the Huskies has not been their first half play. Friday night, this somewhat inexperienced BVNW team took a step toward exorcising their second half demons. After leading 18-17 at the end of the first quarter, the Huskies took control in the second quarter.

“The other thing that was really nice was that we kept our composure,” Fritz said. “I thought they didn’t keep theirs, and we kept ours.”

It took just 38 seconds of second half play for the Huskies to grab the games first double-digit lead, with senior forward Joe Pleasant getting to the free throw line for two of his 16 points on the night.

“I think really executing our stuff and getting more intensity through our locker room and through our bench really helped us in the third quarter,” Ward said.

To this point of the season the Huskies have already blown two 15-point leads, coming in losses to Hazelwood Central and Park Hill South. In Friday night’s EKL matchup, it was a baseline out-of-bounds for Braun with 2:16 that stretched their lead to 51-35. Unlike in previous efforts, the Huskies were successful in holding that lead, as they ended up cruising to a 65-48 win.

As has been the case in the last couple of matchups between the Huskies and Mustangs, Pleasant has dominated his matchup with BVN’s senior forward Miles Emery. In the latest installation of that matchup, Pleasant held Emery to just 6 points. In the two matchups between the Huskies and Mustangs, Ward has scored 22 and 18 points, respectively, to lead all scorers in both contests.

With the win, Blue Valley Northwest improves to 4-3 on the season. The Huskies will travel to Lee’s Summit High School Saturday Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. to go up against Grandview High School. The game will be played as part of the second session of the 810 Varsity Showcase.

After a disappointing loss a week prior in session one of the showcase, Braun said it was important to have a clean, commanding win.

“It feels great,” Braun said. “Teammates are all happy, and when our locker room is happy we play a lot better.”