As a sophomore, Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Anna King established herself as a rising star in the Sunflower League. She was a second-team all-league performer for a Cougars squad that was about to receive an influx of young talent. Unfortunately, King didn’t get to enjoy SM Northwest’s 16-7 campaign last season — at least not on the court — after tearing an ACL. Now healthy, she and the Cougars are eager to author another strong season. We asked King to go four quarters with The Star first.
1. Talk to me about the recovery. How’s that going?
“I started playing again in June, but it’s been a long process. I tore my ACL in September last year and had the surgery in October. Then came the recovery and therapy all through basketball season last year. It was awful. There were several points in the season it hit me really hard.”
2. Was it surprising to see the Cougars flourish a year ago?
“Not really, because my sophomore year we laid a lot of groundwork then. We got work done that really helped us accomplish our goals last year. We only went 7-14, but we had these young players who you could see were going to be good and we were competitive again.”
3. Personally, how tough was it to watch SM Northwest turn a corner from the bench?
“Obviously, it was hard. I wanted to be out there with my teammates … I helped the freshmen, especially Sydney Thompson, who kind of stepped into my place.”
4. Entering Thursday, the Cougars are 2-0, so have you picked up where last season left off?
“Yeah, but I feel like we’re a different team than last year. We play different. I feel like things are easier for us in practice. I want us to have an even better season. Definitely, we want to go undefeated before winter break. … We’d also like to get back to state but go deeper.”
Winning percentage for the Blue Valley Northwest boys basketball team’s junior class, including back-to-back 23-2 seasons that ended in the Kansas Class 6A state title game against Wichita Heights. The Huskies, who crushed Bishop Miege 67-39 in the season opener, head out of state to face Valley from West Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday night.
Double-doubles this season for Grandview junior forward Nelson Nweke, who has reached double digits in points and rebounds in all but one game. In the Bulldogs’ 3-2 start, Nweke is averaging 10.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
St. Pius X senior Brian Kaufmann landed this spot on ESPN’s “Sports-Center” top-10 list Wednesday night after he nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer that beat St. Joseph Central in the Liberty North Invitational. With the score tied at 52-52, Kauffman heaved the shot from the left side of the half-court line.
Blue Springs vs. Hickman girls
In a rematch of last year’s final, the Wildcats face the Kewpies in the McDonald’s Tournament title game at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Blue Springs South. Blue Springs, which has reached the state finals four straight seasons, is off to a 3-1 start following Wednesday’s win against Pleasant Hill.
Blue Valley at Olathe South girls
Two of the most successful girls basketball programs in Johnson County square off in the de facto championship at the Olathe South Round-Robin Invitational at 8 tonight. The two-time Kansas Class 5A runner-up Tigers are led by senior Bailey Geiman, while the host Falcons are led by junior Bailey Rinehart and sophomore Kylee Kopatich.
Olathe South vs. Olathe East boys
A tense suburban rivalry gets an earlier chapter than usual after Olathe South and Olathe East battled into the title game at the Ray-Pec Sonic Shootout, which tips off at 8:30 tonight. Junior Noah Knight helped power the Falcons past Belton by 50 points and Lee’s Summit West in overtime to reach the final, while West Point-bound Kyle Smith keyed the Hawks’ wins against Ruskin and the host Panthers.
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org | The Star’s Tod Palmer and Sam McDowell contributed to this report.