Huskies roll Thunder in Senior Night game, 56-23

The varsity boys basketball team defeated St. James Academy 56-23 in their Senior Night game. Senior guard Sam Ward led the Huskies in scoring with 12 points.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

For the first 8:15 of play Friday night, the St. James Thunder provided a potential blueprint for an upset of the No. 1 ranked team in Kansas Class 6A. The Thunder were able to slow the pace of the game to a halt, and knock down five 3-pointers, shooting the ball well enough that the Huskies abandoned the staple of their defensive efforts for this 2017-18 season- their zone.

“We kind of knew what they were capable of from beyond the arc,” senior forward Parker Braun said of the Thunder’s 3-point shooting ability. “Our zone has kind of been our strength for most of the year so we thought we’d give it a try. They came out hot and I think [Head Coach Ed Fritz] adjusted well. They do a lot of back cuts, they kind of got us tired, but I thought we stayed pretty disciplined and it just kind of worked out from there.”

After the fifth 3-pointer of the game for the Thunder fell through the net with 7:45 remaining in the second quarter, the Huskies settled into a man-to-man defense that shut down the St. James offense. Matching up against a more perimeter-oriented squad gave the Huskies defense an opportunity to showcase its versatility on Friday night.

“Any one of our players we have can guard anybody on the court,” Fritz said, “so, Parker was guarding a 5’8” guy and doing a great job on him and Joe could switch off on anybody so I think that helped.”

“I mean we came out with a lot of energy like we’re used to,” senior guard Max Johnson said, “and then they set a lot of high ball screens, and that opened the court up a lot. So we just switched up to man and kept the same enthusiasm.”

Senior guard Sam Ward knocked down a corner 3 at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter, giving the Huskies a lead that they would not surrender for the remainder of the contest. Ward’s 3 signaled the beginning of a 25-2 run that would be capped off by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Jack Chapman with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.

“We just dug in and started playing hard,” Fritz said.

After trailing 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Huskies headed to the locker room with a 36-17 lead. The Huskies continued their second quarter success in the second half, rolling to a 56-23 win on Senior Night. Senior forward Joe Pleasant, who scored 11 points and grabbed 6 rebounds said the night was surreal.

“It’s an emotional night,” Pleasant, a four-year varsity starter said. “You know for me being here all four years I’ve been here to see my brother go off on Senior Night, see my other friends go off on Senior Night, you kind of forget that your time’s coming up too and this season went by kind of fast for me, so it’s kind of crazy to think like ‘man, this is my Senior Night and my last regular season game,’ so it’s just a surreal moment.”

With the win over St. James, the Huskies capped off the regular season with a 16-4 record, extending their winning streak to 12 games as they head into postseason play. Despite an EKL championship and 16-4 record, Fritz said the next two weeks will determine how people remember this senior class.

“I’m going to remember that they won the EKL and they dominated it,” Fritz said. “They were ready to play every game. But, I think they’re going to be judged on what happens in the next couple of weeks, and they know that, so we’ll see what happens.”