Using speed and quickness to force 21 turnovers, Topeka Highland Park spoiled Saturday evening for Blue Valley, beating the host Tigers 59-49 in the championship game of the Blue Valley Shootout.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
The game slipped through Blue Valley’s fingers early.
The Tigers put together an 11-2 run to take a 25-24 lead on a layup by junior Jalen Fulce with 3:03 remaining in the second quarter.
“We had the situation where we wanted it,” Blue Valley coach Chris Hansen said. “We were playing inside-outside, and our big guys were playing well.”
However, that was the last lead for Blue Valley as the Scots scored the last 14 points of the quarter to lead 38-25 at intermission. Nine of those points came off Tiger turnovers.
“That 14-0 run at the end of the half was the difference,” Hansen said. “We had some loose plays. We were careless with the basketball and we helped them with what they wanted to do — run with the basketball.”
Blue Valley did not fold, however. Behind senior Mitch Sundquist’s seven points and senior Charlie Marquardt’s four, the Tigers acratched back to within five points at 45-40.
“We had the situation where wanted it,” Hansen said.
But Topeka Highland Park scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to regain control of the game.
The Scots went to a delay offense in the last two minutes and put the game away with easy shots under the basket.
Highland Park had four players in double figures, led by junior Jahmal McMurray with 14. Junior Shaffee Carr added 13 and senior Tray Wheeler and Steffon Kyles had 11 each.
The Scots turned the ball over only seven times in the game and were 25-of-49 from the floor for 51 percent.
“I thought our big guys — Marquardt, (Parker) Little and (Andrew) Reinkenmeyer — did well tonight,” Hansen said. “The guys on the perimeter got the ball to them.”
Marquardt led the Tigers with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Sundquist added 12 points with all of them coming in the second half. He had a rare four-point play to start the third quarter. He connected on a three-point shot was fouled on the play and made the free throw.
The Tigers won the rebounding battle 22-16, but those 21 turnovers gave Highland Parks many extra possessions.
Blue Valley was 19-of-39 from the field for 48 percent and seven of nine from the free-throw line.
The Tigers are 2-1 on the season.