In a matchup between the top seeds in 6A East and West, Blue Valley Northwest overcame a 11-point second quarter deficit as they defeated the Lawrence Free State Firebirds, 51-42.
Head coach Aaron Ihm said the team came into the game knowing Free State was a skilled and athletic team so the Huskies would have to rely on other factors if they wanted to win.
“We knew that they were really athletic and very skilled so we wanted to lean on our strength and height,” Ihm said.
The Huskies trailed for a majority of the first quarter and were down 19-8 late in the second quarter. Junior Grant Stubblefield said the Huskies fell away from their game plan which caused them to fall behind.
“We started giving up second chances and open shots that we shouldn’t have let them get. We were also hurrying on offense which we knew they liked to do,” Stubblefield said.
Coming out of halftime, Northwest switched to a 2-3 zone on defense which helped the Huskies come back, Ihm said.
“We hadn’t really shown zone all year, but we had been working on it for times like this. We thought the flow of the game dictated that we needed to get in some gaps and make them think a little,” Ihm said.
With the help of the zone, the Huskies rattled of a 10-0 out of halftime to take the lead.
“We talked in the locker room and we knew we had to get some points on the board and get the momentum going our way because if they kept making shots it could’ve gone south very quickly,” Stubblefield said.
The Firebirds got up to a 42-40 lead with 2:51 remaining in the game, but the Huskies went on a 11-0 run to win the game.
“We did a great job making adjustments on the fly and we played good defense, rebounded well and made some important free throws down the stretch,” Ihm said.
With the win, the Huskies will be taking on Wichita Heights for the state championship at 6:15 today.