Blue Valley West’s Connor Kaiser got to the rim at will Friday during an East Kansas League showdown at rival BV Southwest.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Still, Kaiser, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, wasn’t able to finish much of the time, misfiring on eight of his first 11 shots.
Jaguars coach Donnie Campbell didn’t let that bother him, though, and that proved to be a wise decision.
Coming out of a timeout seconds after Timberwolves senior Donnell Bronson had tied the game with a free throw, Campbell drew up a play that put the ball in Kaiser’s hands.
Kaiser came through with 3.9 seconds left, knifing down the lane and finger-rolling in the game-winning bucket in a 53-51 BV West victory.
“The crossover is my main move,” Kaiser said. “It worked, and I got in the lane for the shot. Seeing that go in was a great feeling.”
The Jaguars, 8-7, have endured a rollercoaster season. The roster is loaded with talent, but it hasn’t necessarily translated into wins.
Kaiser’s game-winner provided a new peak and, BV West hopes, the beginning of a strong finishing kick.
“(BV) Southwest is becoming maybe our biggest rival,” Kaiser said. “We lost to them at home in December, so we wanted to win this one pretty bad. … It boosts our confidence a lot.”
BV Southwest, 11-6, led through most the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, the T-wolves were up by five before BV West closed with an 11-2 run and took a 30-26 lead into the locker room
Joey Lillis, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, hit two free throws and scored on a whirling turnaround hook shot in the run, which also included a three-pointer from the left wing by junior Ryan Ralston and pull-up buzzer-beater by sophomore Elijah Martin.
Buoyed by a 32-19 rebounding margin, which included 15 offensive boards, the Jags turned the tables and kept the T-wolves at bay throughout much of the second half.
BV West stretched the lead to as many as nine, 39-30, late in the third period, but couldn’t quite finish off BV Southwest.
“We knew we were still in the game, but we had to play better defense, box out and take better shots,” said Bronson, who scored 12. “For the most part, we did that in the second half.”
The T-wolves took their first lead of the second half on a steal and layup by senior Colton Miller with 1:32 remaining, but a put-back by sophomore forward Blaise Gammon — who went six-for-six from the field, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds — had the Jags right back in front.
Bronson hit one of two from the line to tie the game at 51-51 with 25.1 seconds left, but Kaiser’s bucket prevented overtime.
BV Southwest senior Anthony Miller scored a game-high 17 with six rebounds and senior Dominique O’Connor added 14 points.
Lillis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Ralston also scored 10.