No. 4 Huskies upset No. 1 Stags, 56-39

The varsity boys basketball team upset the No. 1 ranked team in the 810 Varsity poll, Bishop Miege, with a 56-39 win on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Senior guard Sam Ward scored 19 points to lead the Huskies in the win.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. — The Blue Valley Northwest basketball revenge tour was complete after the Huskies took down the No. 1 ranked team in the 810 Varsity poll, Bishop Miege, with a 56-39 win on Tuesday night.

“I know a lot of us really came in wanting revenge,” senior forward Joe Pleasant said. “We didn’t like the fact that they got us twice last year, and we wanted to come in and show them what’s up this year.”

The highly anticipated matchup between the Stags and the Huskies got off to a slow start as the shots from deep were not falling for BVNW early on. Even though the shots were not falling for the Huskies, their relentless attacks of the rim changed the outlook of the game.

With 7:05 remaining in the second quarter, Bishop Miege junior forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl picked up his third personal foul, sending him to the bench for the rest of the half. Much to head coach Ed Fritz’s dismay, the absence of the 4-star recruit was something the Huskies were unable to take advantage of in the first half.

“I thought we should’ve had a big lead at halftime because [Robinson]-Earl went out with three [fouls]. We didn’t capitalize,” Fritz said.

The Huskies entered the locker room trailing 25-24, but came out with flawless execution in the second half.

“I think when we came in the locker room we were just like “it’s now or never, we only play them once, and they’re EKL contenders’,” senior guard Sam Ward said. “So I think that really amped us up a little bit.”

That halftime break ended up fueling a third quarter that saw BVNW outscore Bishop Miege, 20-5. The ability of the Huskies to limit the Stags to just five points in the third quarter was due in large part to the effectiveness of their zone defense.

“I feel like the zone really helped defensively,” Pleasant said. “I felt like we limited them to tough looks whenever they did get the ball, and I felt like we made tough entry passes for them.”

The zone defense that stifled the Stags was something that has been seldom-used in Fritz’s time as head coach at Northwest.

“I’ve probably gone 13 years of coaching where I didn’t even play a possession of zone,” Fritz said. “So, you’ve gotta adapt to your personnel and we don’t have a lot of depth.”

With the success of their defense, and the effectiveness of the offense, the Huskies second half was arguably their best half of basketball all season long. Although Sam Ward lead the Huskies in scoring for the game, it was the ability of senior forward Parker Braun and Pleasant which gave the Huskies the advantage they needed inside.

“I was trying to do whatever it takes to win,” Parker said. “I know an inside presence was needed tonight so that’s just what I tried to do.”

On a night where he only scored 11 points, junior guard Christian Braun said the play of Pleasant and Parker was great.

“They were great,” Christian said. “Joe picked it up in the second half, Parker blocked shots all game. They were in a little bit of foul trouble or they would’ve scored a little more, but, they were great all game.”

After the Stags moved into a full-court press in the fourth quarter, Pleasant found himself in the open court with the ball in his hands early in the fourth quarter. With a few dribbles and a couple of long strides from the Huskies senior big man, he approached the rim and Bishop Miege junior forward Josh Early.

“I was thinking ‘I hope he jumps with me.’ That’s what I was thinking,” Pleasant said. “He jumped and I stayed there and punched it on him.”

That one-handed slam for Pleasant punctuated a 17-point win over the top-ranked team in the Kansas City metro area, and a team the Huskies had been swept by last year. With the win, Blue Valley Northwest moves to 11-4. They play hosts to Blue Valley West for the Sweetheart game Friday Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Fritz said the win was key towards another Eastern Kansas League championship.

“We put ourselves in position to win the league now so I really was happy with how we played.”