Talk about no love lost.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
For the second straight year, the Olathe Northwest girls turned the lingering sweetness of Valentine’s Day into harsh defeat for Olathe South, halting another Falcons streak.
Last season it came on Feb. 17, when the Ravens came from behind to win 48-46, stopping Olathe South’s seven-year string of Sunflower League championships. In the process, the Ravens captured their first league title.
This year it came on the season’s same Friday with the unbeaten Falcons riding high with an 16-game winning streak (although both schools were 8-0 in league play).
One big difference: The margin. By the end, it was a full-blown rout with Olathe Northwest winning 55-38.
“I think our defensive pressure got to them in the third quarter,” Ravens coach Joel Branstrom said. “We knocked down some shots with good ball movement. Our defense made them shoot tough shots.”
Olathe Northwest outscored the Falcons 16-5 in the period to take a commanding 41-28 advantage into the final quarter.
The Falcons were just two-of-11 from the floor in the third quarter. The Ravens, on the other hand, closed with a flourish when sophomore Shaleia Jamison hit a 30-foot three-point shot at the buzzer.
Olathe South had its chances to climb back into the game in the fourth quarter, but poor free throw shooting hurt the Falcons. They were just two-of-nine at the charity stripe in the last period and just eight-of-17 for the game.
“They are an awfully talented team,” Olathe South coach Steve Ingram said. “They are hard to defend, and they defend well.”
The defensive game plan for the Ravens centered on sophomore Kylee Kopatich. “She had been averaging 25 a game recently,” Branstrom said. “We wanted to put defensive pressure on her.”
The Olathe South sophomore only had five points in the game and just one in the second half.
Branstrom was pleased with the play of 6-3 senior Michaela Crall.
“She has been a 55 percent shooter in her career, but lately she has not been shooting the ball well,” he said. “Tonight, she kept the ball high and scored, and she rebounded well.”
The senior had a game-high 14 points and game-high 14 rebounds. She hit five-of-seven shots from the floor.
Senior Jaylah Jackson added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Jordan Morton led Olathe South with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Olathe Northwest has just two scheduled games remaining, against SM South and Olathe North. A victory in one of those games would give the 14-4 Ravens at least a tie for Sunflower League title. Olathe South fell to 16-1.