BVNW withstands a late comeback, advances to the 6A state championships with 71-64 win over Olathe West

The varsity boys basketball team defeated Olathe West, 71-64, claiming the substate championship. Senior Christian Braun was the leading scorer for the Huskies, with 29 points.

Senior Christian Braun wears teammate and fellow senior Matthew Chapman’s jersey (50) in the game against Olathe West on March 1 at BVNW. The Huskies defeated the Owls, 71-64.

Jonny Isaacson , Writer

For the ninth time in ten years, the No. 1 Blue Valley Northwest Huskies advanced to 6A state, after defeating No. 9 Olathe West on Friday night. The game started with the Owls jumping out to an early, 16-15 lead to end the first quarter.

The team’s ability to stay together is what senior Christian Braun said kept them in the game.

“We just stayed together really well,” Braun said. “We started off slow and picked it up toward the end. Markell hit a few pretty good shots, which really helped us get going and from there we just stopped them on the three point line and the zone helped us a lot today.”

After trailing for much of the first and second quarters, the Huskies were able to go on a 17-8 run to close out the first half to give them the lead, 36-29. A big part of the run was senior Mike Peake’s ability to dominate the paint.

According to Peake, he took advantage of having a smaller defender on him.

“My teammates did a great job of feeding me the ball when they realized I had a smaller defender on me,” Peake said. “I did a good job of kicking it back out to them when I was double-teamed or they were wide open.”

Coming out of the half, the Huskies were able to extend their lead, going on a 17-7 run, which ended with a Peake slam dunk. Wanting to call a timeout, the Owls tried advancing the ball, but sophomore Jack Chapman stole it, fed Braun, who in turn passed it onto Peake for the dunk. Peake said he was just focusing on finishing the play.

“Just get up,” Peake said. “That’s what I said to myself, ‘just jump.’ It went in and really got the crowd pumped.”

Down 11 with 2:23 remaining in the fourth quarter, Olathe West was able to cut into the lead late, getting within five points with sixteen seconds left. According to Braun, who finished the game with 29 points, they were able to survive the late comeback effort with their zone.

“We weathered the storm with the zone,” Braun said. “We’ve thrown that in a lot more these past couple of games, and it’s really helping us bump people off the three point line and just sending them into Mike, and he did a good job of just swatting some of them away.”

Throughout the game, Northwest was playing with a chip on its shoulder, having recently learned that senior starter Matt Chapman had tore his meniscus according to head coach Ed Fritz. Chapman had been a big part of the team’s success, Fritz said, and they wanted to win it for him.

“Today was a really hard and emotional day for everybody,” Fritz said. “We found out that Matt Chapman tore his meniscus, he’s been a starter for us all year and a good rebounder and we had to play without him.”

According to Braun, the team will be ready for anything thrown at them in state and will be playing for Matt.

“Matt Chapman got injured, so we’re going to do this for Matt and we’re just going to fight through it, fight through adversity and try to win,” Braun said. “We’ve had a lot of close games, we’ve faced a lot of different defenses this year, so I think we are ready for any situation.”

With the win, the Huskies are sub-state champions and will advance to the 6A state tournament in Wichita. Games will start on Wednesday, March 6 at Charles Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University.