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Fritz gets 600th win as Huskies defeat Saints, 69-46

Head coach Ed Fritz picked up his 600th career coaching win as the varsity boys basketball team defeated Saint Thomas Aquinas, 69-46, Saturday Jan. 27 at Blue Valley Northwest. In the win, junior guard Christian Braun scored 17 points and snagged eight rebounds for the Huskies.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

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Blue Valley Northwest senior forward Parker Braun (23) defends a St. Thomas Aquinas player while senior guard Sam Ward (5) looks on during the first half of the Huskies matchup with St. Thomas Aquinas at BVNW Jan. 27.

Head boys basketball coach Ed Fritz reached a milestone Saturday by picking up his 600th career victory.

“It just means that I’ve been around a lot and had a lot of good coaches, a lot of good players and a lot of good people to be around,” Fritz said of the accomplishment. “I’ve been really lucky.”

For the majority of the first quarter, the Saints squad kept the game close. STA was able to answer nearly every basket the Huskies scored in the first frame, as the game remained tied, 10-10, after a quarter of play.

The Huskies senior big man, Joe Pleasant, who left the championship game of the Border Classic just a week prior in Pittsburg, Kan. helped open up a comfortable lead heading into the half. Pleasant’s ability to crash the offensive glass and put pressure on the interior defense of the Saints helped him score nine of the Huskies points as part of an 11-2 run with 3:00 remaining in the first half. Fritz said Pleasant prepared well all week to get back from injury and make an impact on Saturday’s game.

“I thought he did all he needed to do to get ready to play,” Fritz said. “I thought in the first half he probably had a stretch where he… kind of got us our lead so I thought that was huge.”

Pleasant, who finished with 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in the win said although he was frustrated to miss a large portion of the previous game, he was thankful to be back out on the court with his teammates against the Saints.

“I was real excited to come back out there and play. I was pretty upset that I couldn’t go out and finish out the championship game,” Pleasant said. “Being hurt kind of made me understand and realize that I have an opportunity and I’m going to make the most out of every single game.”

The run to end the half gave the Huskies a 33-24 lead heading into the locker room, but the Saints came out with a run of their own to begin the second half. In the first four minutes of the second half, the Saints outplayed the Huskies as STA would go on their own 9-2 run, cutting the Huskies lead to 35-33.

“They came out in the third quarter and they really did a good job defensively,” Fritz said.

It was from that point on that BVNW set the tone for the rest of the game, as Fritz said the Huskies went to a zone which stifled the Saints offense. The closing four minutes of the third quarter saw BVNW go on an 11-0 run, punctuated by a slam dunk by Pleasant. Although he was able to finish with 17 points, junior guard Christian Braun said on a night in which he did not make any 3-point baskets, his role as a distributor was the key.

“Sam shot the ball really well. [Senior forward Parker Braun] started to score inside and we just got everything clicking,” Christian said. “I didn’t shoot as well today so I felt like I needed to get something else going and my teammates really picked it up.”

Fritz’s milestone victory was capped off by Parker Braun’s dunk with 1:56 left in the game, stretching the Huskies lead to 69-44. With the win, Blue Valley Northwest moves to 8-4 on the year. The Huskies go up against KC East on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

After the game, a tribute video was played in the commons. The video showing former players and coaching colleagues was capped off by Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self congratulating Fritz on his accomplishment. Fritz’s players recognized the significance of the accomplishment.

“It’s a special thing because not a lot of coaches have the ability to do that,” senior guard Sam Ward, who scored 16 points in the win said. “When you’re a part of it you’re just gonna feel special with him.”

“It’s really something special,” Pleasant said. “I’ve been here for all four years playing under him and I’m just glad I got to be a part of his legacy. He’s a great man, a great coach, and I was really happy to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

Despite reaching the accomplishment, Fritz said he still has his sights set on more goals.

“I want to keep coaching. I want to win another state championship. I want to see these guys go to college, be successful, be good dads and be good people in the community. I like being a part of kids lives.”

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Fritz gets 600th win as Huskies defeat Saints, 69-46