Fourth quarter woes end Huskies season in 43-34 loss to Cougars

The varsity girls basketball team was defeated by Shawnee Mission Northwest, 43-34, in the first round of substate play Tuesday Feb. 27. Senior guards Bridget Harrison and Becky Delgado each had 9 points to lead the Huskies in scoring.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

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For the first three quarters of basketball in Tuesday night’s substate matchup between No. 12 seed Blue Valley Northwest and No. 5 seed Shawnee Mission Northwest, the Huskies and Cougars played a tightly contested game. It showed in the score after three quarters, with BVNW and SMNW knotted at a score of 28-28.

In the fourth quarter, the same problem that had plagued the Huskies for a large portion of this season came back to bite them again. After playing a competitive three quarters of basketball, the Huskies offense went quiet and BVNW was outplayed in the remaining eight minutes of action.

Despite being tied with the Cougars at the end of the third quarter, the Huskies were outscored 15-6 in the fourth quarter as SMNW out-hustled and out-rebounded BVNW in the final frame. Head coach Brian Bubalo and senior guard Bridget Harrison each said the inability of the Huskies to rebound the ball on the defensive end cost them the game.

“The first two or three minutes [of the fourth quarter] they hit the boards really well,” Bubalo said. “We got good shots but we didn’t make them. We didn’t get many offensive rebounds, and they were getting a bunch. They just beat us really bad on the offensive boards, just in that little stretch right there, and you know we just I think got a little tired and we didn’t block out.”

“Boxing out definitely [was the difference],” Harrison said. “I think in the fourth quarter defensively we lost them and we didn’t get our girls and in the first three quarters we came out defensively and were rebounding and getting our girls.”

Senior guard Becky Delgado made a free throw with 7:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, and then the Huskies offense experienced a 6:50 drought that ended when senior guard Kate Kaufman scored a layup that cut the deficit to 39-31. With 34 seconds left in the game, senior forward Evan Bail knocked in a 3-pointer which cut the BVNW deficit to 39-34, but it was too little too late for the Huskies as they were defeated 43-34 to end their season.

When asked if he felt like the Huskies let it slip away in the final eight minutes, Bubalo was definitive in his answer.

“Oh yeah, we thought we could win,” Bubalo said. “I mean, it’s a tie game at the end of the third quarter, so you always like to think you got a chance to win it. But, we let it get away from us right there on a couple of offensive rebounds. They got that five-point lead and we just couldn’t get a shot to drop.”

Looking for an upset in the first round of the postseason, the Huskies came into their matchup with the Cougars looking to slow down the pace according to Bubalo. The Huskies head coach said he felt the slower-paced game favored his team.

“I was happy with the tempo,” Bubalo said. “I thought we picked our spots and you know we pushed the ball a few times, but most of the time we wanted to set up and get a good shot and try to get some rebound position. So, yeah I was happy with the pace of the game.”

The pace Bubalo spoke of lead to a game that was marred by foul trouble for both squads. In the first quarter the Huskies and Cougars were whistled for eight fouls over the course of the first four minutes of game action. Both teams spent a large amount of time in the bonus, but senior guard Bridget Harrison said she felt the game was called fairly for both squads.

“They just called a lot of fouls,” Harrison said, “just both ways too, so we both went to the line a lot.”

Despite Harrison’s 9 points, and just 2 points from the usually free-shooting senior forward Sarah Martin, Bubalo said he was not sure how the foul trouble affected his two seniors, who each had four fouls early in the fourth quarter. Both Martin and Harrison spent large portions of the game on the bench rather than the court because of their foul trouble.

“I had to sit Bridget and Sarah quite a bit,” Bubalo said, “and that might have affected their rhythm and how they were shooting but it’s hard to tell… you just never know how that affects their shooting rhythm.”

The Huskies largest lead of the game came when Harrison knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:47 left in the second quarter, when BVNW led 11-5, but the Huskies would ultimately fall, 43-34. With the loss, the Huskies end the season with a 7-14 record. The loss was the Huskies third straight first round postseason exit. 

Harrison, a four-year varsity member, was overcome with emotions after the game.

“Oh gosh, it means a lot,” Harrison said. “Just the whole basketball [program], all the girls… we built a lot of friendships and it was a fun ride.”