It was one of those nights when shots didn’t fall — and those are the nights the Olathe South boys’ basketball team is vulnerable.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Some teams — like Shawnee Mission South, which defeated the Falcons 47-40 last Friday — can overcome a poor night from the field with tenacity on rebounds, by limiting turnovers and by getting to the free-throw line.
Olathe South, 10-4, needs to shoot the ball well, much better than the 35.7 percent it did in the loss to the Raiders.
“When we don’t shoot well, we’re susceptible,” Falcons coach Jim Carr said.
Olathe South’s figures were 15 for 42 overall and only four for 20 from three-point range.
Junior point guard Noah Knight shot OK, connecting on four of 11 from the field, but that was the Falcons’ high-water mark — aside from reserve forward Justin Maggott’s energetic and nearly game-changing three-for-three performance.
Senior Devin Ruis went three for 10, and backcourt mate David Nelsen went one for 11, missing all seven three-point attempts.
Early in the season, Olathe South was a team to be reckoned with.
The Falcons defeated Missouri power Lee’s Summit West, which has lost only twice and stunned Olathe East at the buzzer for the Hawks’ only loss in their first eight games.
But after a 6-0 start, Olathe South is playing .500 basketball since getting upset by Leavenworth on Jan. 8. The Falcons, who were to take on SM East on Tuesday night, simply need to shoot better to become that team from early in the season again.
“I was really proud of our defensive effort, but we had a stretch where we turned the ball over and couldn’t hit shots,” Carr said. “We can’t do that. We have so little room for error.”
Raiders maintain perfection
Shawnee Mission South stayed unbeaten through the weekend, but Olathe South provided its toughest test so far.
For the first time, the Raiders trailed later than the opening few minutes with Olathe South taking a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
It would have been the prime time for the Raiders, who are ranked No. 1 in Kansas 5A, to wilt. They were in an unfamiliar situation in a hostile road environment, but coach Brett McFall’s boys prevailed.
Using a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter, including three-pointers by senior Josh Pedersen and sophomore Dainan Swoope, SM South quickly erased the slim deficit and coasted to the 47-40 victory.
“Even though we were down, we knew we’d bounce back,” said junior guard Devin Newsome, who capped the run with a pull-up jumper. “Pulling in front early was big for us, because we weren’t having a good night shooting. But the defense came through, and that’s what we live on every game.”
The Raiders’ defense struggled early, giving up 15 first-quarter points.
“Our goal was to hold them under 50,” McFall said. “After the first quarter, I challenged the guys, because we gave up 15, which was way too much. We held them to six in the second quarter, but we had to. We were just despicable in that quarter.”
SM South committed seven turnovers in the second period and managed only one bucket, a layup by Newsome with 1 minute, 6 seconds left before halftime.
Still, the Raiders found a way and cemented themselves as perhaps the favorites in 5A.
Sunflower girls race takes shape
Apparently, it’s now a two-horse race for the Sunflower League girls’ basketball crown.
With Olathe Northwest’s 54-44 victory over SM Northwest last week, the league race was whittled to two unbeaten teams in league play – the Ravens, who are 10-4 overall, and Olathe South, 13-0.
The Falcons and ONW were both 5-0 entering Tuesday’s league slate with SM Northwest and Leavenworth — yes, Leavenworth! — tied for second at 4-1 in league play.
It doesn’t shape up as a terrifically challenging week for any of the contenders, but there will be no love lost when Olathe South hosts Olathe Northwest on the Friday after Valentine’s Day.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.