2023 KSHSAA 6A boys basketball state tournament bracket, updated at of March 12.

Boys basketball 6A state tournament

March 9, 2023


Bailey Thompson

After defeating the Wichita Heights Falcons in the 2023 6A KSHSAA state championship, the boys basketball team celebrates in the locker room.

Huskies defeat reigning state champions to win 2023 6A state championship

The boys varsity basketball team defeated the Wichita Heights Falcons in the 2023 KSHSAA 6A state championship, March 11, in Wichita, Kan.

After losing to the Wichita Heights Falcons last year in the 2022 6A boys basketball state championship by a mere 7 points, the Huskies had another shot at defeating the reigning state champions in their opponents hometown, Wichita, Kan. According to senior point guard Grant Stubblefield, this has been a rematch the team has been thinking about for a long time.

“We’ve been thinking about this game for 365 days. I mean, what they did to us last year, we wanted our revenge so when we saw that we were playing them, we were ready,” Stubblefield said.

The Huskies had never defeated the Falcons in BVNW boys basketball school history before this game. Along with studying film and working hard in practices, head coach Aaron Ihm said the team needed to have certainty in themselves in order to defeat the Falcons.

“I told the guys we don’t need to be perfect to win tonight but we need to be solid and we need to be confident. We were more solid and more confident and I think that was the difference,” Ihm said. 

According to junior Joey Matteoni, after losing to the Falcons in the same round last year, the Huskies came into the game more ready than before.

“I thought that we were way more prepared this year. I thought that we had a better scout on them and we knew what we were doing,” Matteoni said.

Despite not winning the tip-off, the Huskies took the lead quickly with junior Jake Fritz scoring the first 3 points of the night, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. After taking the early lead, the Huskies would stay in front of the Falcons for the entire game. At the end of the first quarter, the Huskies found themselves up 13-6. Stubblefield attributed some of the early success of the game to the team’s defense.

“We were playing aggressive. That’s probably the best defense we played all year. I’m really proud of our guys,” Stubblefield said. “[The Falcons] looked a little shocked when we came out [playing] man-to-man because we’ve played a lot of zone this year… and they weren’t ready for it.”

At the end of the season, the Huskies had a 21-4 record. Head coach Aaron Ihm said although making it to the state championship was a big goal of the team’s, they focused on each game as it came instead of only focusing on the end goal.

“We knew we were turning into a good team but if all we focused on was the state championship, we would have missed all the important things in between and credit to this group. The details and the work meant something to them and that’s why we were able to [win],” Ihm said.

At halftime, BVNW led Wichita Heights 22-15. However, throughout the third quarter, the Huskies were able to increase their 8 point lead to an 18 point lead at one point in the quarter. According to Matteoni, the team did a good job defending the Falcons which played a large role in furthering the point differential between the two teams.

“We just played together and played defense. We stuck to the scouting report and… got the rebounds,” Matteoni said. 

Although the Falcons were able to put more points on the board to make it a closer game in the fourth quarter, Stubblefield said the team was able to stay collected in order to stay ahead.

“They had some runs where they were getting close to coming back. They were making some big shots [but] we kept our composure,” Stubblefield said.

Wichita Heights would go on to score 23 points in the fourth quarter, but it would not be enough to defeat the Huskies who would go on to win 55-50, along with the 2023 6A KSHSAA state champion title.

After defeating Shawnee Mission Northwest in the state quarterfinals and Blue Valley North in the state semifinals, Ihm said defeating Wichita Heights in the state championship was the perfect way to end the tournament. 

“What’s a better story than we go beat Shawnee Mission Northwest in the same game that we played last year, go play Blue Valley North, [our] conference rivals and then beat the defending state champs, which by the way, Blue Valley Northwest until tonight had never beaten Wichita Heights. Was 0-7 in school history and so to set school history and win in their city, it’s amazing,” Ihm said.

With this game marking the end of the 2022-2023 boys basketball season, Stubblefield noted on what this win and this team means to him.

“I’m so proud of them, I love these guys with all my heart,” Stubblefield said. “Just to get this [win] after all these years and what has felt like forever, it’s a blessing to be here.”

Huskies pull away in second half to advance onto 6A state semifinals

The boys varsity basketball team defeated the Shawnee Mission Northwest Cougars, 73-54, in the 6A state quarterfinals, March 8.


Bailey Thompson

Seniors Landon Braun (12) and Aidan Behymer (21) celebrate after defeating Shawnee Mission Northwest in the state quarterfinals.

After their win against Olathe Northwest on March 3 in the Sub-State Championship, the Huskies traveled to Wichita, Kan. to play the Shawnee Mission Northwest Cougars in the state quarterfinals. The Cougars kept up with the Huskies for the first three quarters, but in the final half of the game, the Huskies pulled away to win 73-54.

Coming into the game, head coach Aaron Ihm said despite the high stakes, the team tried not to let the pressure get to them in order to concentrate on winning.

“We were calm and we knew what was in front of us and we didn’t pay too much [attention] when games got close or or when they started pressuring,” Ihm said. “This group has a lot of trust in each other. They’re prepared for these things.”

The game started out close, with the first quarter ending with the Huskies leading the Cougars 15-12. BVNW was able to increase their lead to 29-22 by halftime, however SMNW were not far behind. According to senior Grant Stubblefield, during halftime the team discussed what they needed to concentrate on in order to advance onto the next round.

“At halftime, our coach told us to keep pressure on them and make sure we didn’t let them feel comfortable or like they were in the game no matter the score,” Stubblefield said.

Additionally, Ihm mentioned how the team focused on shutting down SMNW’s point guard throughout the game to stop the Cougars from scoring as many points.

“They had a really, really quick point guard. Probably the quickest that we’ve faced and we wanted to make sure that he couldn’t get out ahead and transition and I thought our guys for the most part did a really good job on that.”

The Huskies began to pull ahead later in the game, and by the end of the third quarter were up by 11 points. According to Stubblefield, the team applied the defensive tactics they have been working on in practice to the game which ultimately contributed to their success.

“We stopped their transitions and drives really well, that’s something we worked on all week. We wanted to force them to shoot outside shots,” Stubblefield said. 

At the end of the game, the Huskies defeated the Cougars 73-54. Additionally, Stubblefield, who contributed 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to BVNW, reached over one thousand high school career points. According to Ihm, winning the game and Stubblefield reaching the one thousandth point mark was a special moment.

“Coaches and players live and dream to go to the Final Fours and so to be able to win in the fashion that we did, and then also be able to celebrate our teammate Grant Stubblefield, who just scored the one thousandth point of his career in that game, it was just a great moment,” Ihm said.

The Huskies will take on the Blue Valley North Mustangs in the state semifinals tomorrow, March 10, at 2 p.m. at Wichita State University-Koch Arena. Last time BVNW played BVN, the Huskies defeated the Mustangs 53-52 on Feb. 18. According to Stubblefield, although the Huskies defeated the Mustangs in their last game, there were still things they could have done differently.

“We feel like we didn’t play our best the first game against North. They kept it close so we know we just have to play confident and together and make sure to not let the pressure of the game get to us,” Stubblefield said.

In addition, Ihm mentioned the team’s previous match-ups against North in order to better understand how to beat them.

“We played North four times last year, and beat them three out of the four times,” Ihm said. “This year we’ve only played them once but it was a close game and we won. Our coaches know how to beat North, our team knows how to beat North, it’s just a matter of if they’re not going to beat themselves.”


Bailey Thompson

After defeating Olathe Northwest in the Sub-State championship, the boys varsity basketball team celebrates their win. Senior Grant Stubblefield holds up the plaque.

Huskies defeat Ravens 56-51 to win Sub-State Championship

The boys varsity basketball team defeated Olathe Northwest 56-51 in a close game to win the Sub-State Championship, on March 3.

After losing in the state championship last year, the boys varsity basketball team needed to defeat Olathe Northwest in the Sub-State Championship in order to have a shot at winning state this year in Witchita.

“We had set three goals at the beginning of the season: win our conference and we did that, win Sub-State and then a state championship. We knew that to do that, you’re gonna have to play in high-profile games with perceived pressure and we do some things in practice to try to get ready for that,” head coach Aaron Ihm said. “We just got to trust in what we’ve done to prepare and trust each other out there.”

The Huskies came out strong, and by the end of the first quarter, they led the Ravens 17-7. Despite getting ahead early, Olathe Northwest began to catch up to the Huskies as the game went on, and would go on to take the lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter. According to junior Jake Fritz, the team did not anticipate the game getting as close as it had, but continued to battle throughout the entirety of the game.

“We knew they were a good team. I didn’t think it would be this close but you got to roll with the punches and I think we did that,” Fritz said.

During the third quarter, the Huskies switched to a full-court defense in order to apply more pressure on the Raven’s offense according to Ihm. 

“We thought that we could expose some of their ball handling with some pressure. There were probably four or five turnovers over the course of the game where we would either run in double or we would fake like we were going to and they threw [the ball] out of bounds or have a bad pass tipped, and in games that are tight like that, that’s the difference.”

However, even after the Huskies switched their defense, the Ravens were not far behind. With 2:35 left in the game, BVNW led ONW 48-47, but according to Ihm, the Huskies continued to persist.

“It was closer than I wanted it to be but those are challenges that we got to overcome and credit to them. They played really hard and strong and they did some good things,” Ihm said

In the last two minutes of the game, the Huskies were able to increase their one-point lead to a five-point lead, finishing the game with a 56-51 victory over the Ravens to win the Sub-State championship.

“I think we did a good job keeping our heads up, keeping that mentality ready, and keeping our eyes forward and making sure everybody was on the same page,” senior Landon Braun said. 

The Huskies will play their first game in the 6A state tournament against Shawnee Mission Northwest this Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Wichita State University’s Charles Koch Arena.

“I think we just need to keep the mental aspect of this ready and everybody’s got to lock in. Like I said, three more [games], can’t be too excited. We’re happy to get there, but it’s not over yet,” Braun said.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Alyssa Gagnon
Alyssa Gagnon, Writer

Alyssa Gagnon is a senior and writer for “The Express” as well as a designer. This is her third year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Alyssa is involved in soccer, Quill and Scroll, NHS, SNHS and Kay Club. In her free time, she loves to hang out with her friends, travel, play soccer, go to the gym, and listen to music. Alyssa is very thankful to be apart of “The Express” and is excited to see where this year takes her.

Photo of Bailey Thompson
Bailey Thompson, Chief Photographer

Bailey Thompson is a senior and Chief Photographer for “The Express.” Outside of staff, Bailey is in NHS, NAHS and a part of the girls soccer team. She also enjoys spending time with her friends and family, as well as binge-watching TV shows and movies on Netflix. Bailey is excited for what the future has in store for her and is ready for the next step.

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