WICHITA — Blue Valley West hadn’t used a “junk defense” all season.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
That changed Monday after coach Donnie Campbell found out the Jaguars had drawn Wichita North and Kansas-bound scoring machine Conner Frankamp in the opening round of the Class 6A boys basketball state tournament, which tipped off Wednesday at Wichita State’s Koch Arena.
Two days after installing the specialized zone, BV West deployed it to near perfection in a 41-35 upset, holding Frankamp more than 20 points below his season average.
“It feels great to shut down one of the best players in the state of Kansas,” said BV West junior Ryan Ralston, who said the team’s goal was to keep Frankamp under 20 points.
Led by senior Conley Wilkins, who drew the primary assignment shadowing Frankamp, the Jags, 14-9, limited one of the state’s all-time leading scorers to 11 points on four-for-13 shooting.
Frankamp, who entered state averaging 31.2 points per game, went three-for-11 from behind the arc and became increasingly — and visibly — frustrated as the game progressed.
“We just were not going to let Frankamp beat us tonight,” Campbell said.
When Wilkins got in second-half foul trouble, sophomore Conner Kaiser drew Frankamp duty, but Kaiser’s biggest contributions came as an offensive spark.
No. 2 seed Wichita North, 20-3, led 24-17 midway through the third quarter before Kaiser keyed a 9-3 run.
On back-to-back possessions, Kaiser — who finished with 13 points, all in the second half — hit pull-up rainmakers from the right elbow. Then he added a finger roll that pulled BV West within 27-26 entering the fourth quarter.
“Connor’s better when he’s got his ears back and he’s going to the basket,” Campbell said. “We tried to get him in those positions as much as possible and he hit some big shots.”
Kaiser, who also hit a three-pointer and game-tying free throws in the fourth quarter, helped put BV West in front for good with a steal and kick ahead to Ralston in the closing minute.
“I think he was the better Connor tonight,” Ralston said of Kaiser’s performance. “He’s a young player who grew up tonight.”
BV Northwest 56, Lawrence Free State 37
BV Northwest’s quest for a fourth straight appearance in the Class 6A championship game got off a slow start.
The undefeated Huskies went one-for-10 from the field in the first quarter and trailed Lawrence Free State — albeit only 8-5 — before rebounding for a 56-37 victory.
“I doubt (BV Northwest) coach (Ed) Fritz has ever had a team score five points in the first quarter, so it was obviously a bad start for us,” junior David Salach said. “We got some open looks, but they just weren’t falling.”
The Huskies used a 10-0 second-quarter run to pull ahead and another 10-0 run to start the third quarter to pull away.
Iowa State-bound junior Clay Custer finished with a game-high 20 points.
The Huskies will face Derby, 19-3, at 4:45 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
SM East 53, Wichita East 41
Third-seeded Shawnee Mission East endured similar first-half shooting woes, going for six-for-24 from the field in the first half against Wichita East.
But the Lancers found the range in the second half, rallying from a six-point halftime hole for a 53-41 victory.
“It’s a senior-dominated team,” SM East coach Shawn Hair said. “I think they know they played poorly — and with 20 turnovers we were lucky to win the game — but we’re excited to be in the semifinals.”
SM East, which shot 11-for-16 in the second half, also buckled down defensively, allowing only three third-quarter points in turning a 27-21 deficit into a 35-30 lead.
Senior Zach Schneider led the Lancers with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while sophomore Lucas Jones also had a double-double — 11 points and 10 boards.
SM East, 21-2, plays BV West at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.