BVNW advances to 6A state with 67-36 win over Shawnee Mission West

After a close first half, the Huskies were able to pull away and clinch a spot in the state tournament. Junior guard Christian Braun finished with 24 points in the sub-state final.

Paul Walsh

Ben Brown, Sports Editor

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The No. 1 Blue Valley Northwest Huskies found themselves in a battle with the No. 9 Shawnee Mission West Vikings on Saturday evening. With a ticket to the Kansas 6A state tournament on the line, both teams were evenly matched in the first half of their sub-state matchup.

Both teams went into the locker room tied at 25-25 after the first half. While the Huskies were able to roll through the EKL, this was a familiar position for BVNW as they played in many close games towards the start of the season, something head coach Ed Fritz said helped them in this game.

“By having some adversity early, I think it taught us some lessons,” Fritz said.

Though the Vikings put up a test in the first half, the No.1 Huskies would ramp up their play in the third quarter. On the first possession of the second half, senior guard Sam Ward hit a 3-pointer to give BVNW an early lead in the second half. On the ensuing possession, senior forward Joe Pleasant converted on a layup in transition to give the Huskies a 30-25 lead.

After the Huskies scored a couple of quick baskets within the first minute of the third quarter, SMW was forced to call a timeout with 4:20 left in the quarter following a 3-pointer by junior guard Christian Braun, who finished with 24 points on the night, which capped off a 14-4 run for BVNW to open the half.

Following the timeout, BVNW kept up the momentum as they were able to end the third quarter with a 46-32 lead over Shawnee Mission West.

BVNW continued their second half success into the fourth quarter. Both Braun and Ward were able to get to the rim and make crafty moves to score layups throughout the second half. Along with their offense, the defense of the Huskies was relentless as they only allowed four points to be scored by the Vikings in the quarter. Pleasant said the team was able to finish out the game strong.

“We got hit with some adversity in the first half,” Pleasant said, “but we were able to bounce back.”

After a stellar second half performance by BVNW, the Huskies would go on to defeat the Vikings of Shawnee Mission West, 67-36, and punch their ticket to Wichita for the 6A tournament for the third year in a row.

Pleasant, a senior who has been a 3-time sub-state champion, said the team is ready to get back to 6A State for the third consecutive year.

“It’s a great experience,” Pleasant said. “I’m really, really enjoying it this year. I know a lot of us seniors have been talking about since our freshman year waiting our turn and senior year we could finally make the run.”

After winning handily, the first half of the sub-state matchup was a much different story. After BVNW scored the first few baskets of the game, SMW was able to answer and piece together a run of their own. The Huskies would go on to lead 13-8 after the first quarter, but the Vikings were not done.

In the second quarter, Shawnee Mission West showed their offensive ability. The Vikings were able to knock down a couple of 3-pointers. Conversely, the Huskies started struggling offensively towards the end of the half.

However, Braun was able to provide a much needed spark offensively for the Huskies. The Blue Valley Northwest junior guard was able to drive the lane with ease and knock down shots from the perimeter. Braun said he could have done a better job getting the ball to the other guards, but ultimately felt good about his performance.

“I struggled with getting the ball to Sam [Ward] and Max [Johnson] in the first half, but I scored pretty well,” Braun said.

Braun would go on to finish the first half with 16 points, but that would not be enough to take the lead at half as both teams were tied at 25-25.

With the win, the Huskies are sub-state champions and will advance to the 6A State tournament in Wichita with games starting on Thursday, March 8 at Charles Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University.