WICHITA — The clock doesn’t stop on a made basket even in the final minute of Kansas high school basketball.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Shawnee Mission East senior Vance Wentz knows that, but that chance for an easy basket was too tempting in the closing seconds Friday of a 59-58 Class 6A semifinal loss to No. 7 seed Blue Valley West at Wichita State’s Koch Arena.
Trailing 59-56 after Jaguars junior Ryan Ralston made one of two free throws, Wentz — who scored 20 points — streaked to the hoop hoping to get two quick points and then foul to extend the game.
Instead, BV West never had to inbound after Wentz’s layup with 2.8 seconds remaining and advanced to an all-East Kansas League championship showdown against undefeated BV Northwest.
“It’s heartbreaking,” SM East coach Shawn Hair said. “Zach (Schneider) was trailing on the play, and they were all sucked in there guarding the ball, but it’s not one person’s fault.”
The Lancers, 21-3, were behind after a dismal third quarter defensively.
BV West, 15-9, roared to the lead midway through the third quarter when Ralston, who finished with 14, hit bookend threes and scored eight points in a game-changing 13-0 run that started with SM East in front 30-26.
“I thought Ralston played his best game of the year,” BV West coach Donnie Campbell said.
The Lancers, who gave up 40 points in the second half, battled back but never again pulled into the lead.
Sophomore Lucas Jones had a chance to put SM East ahead but missed two free throws with 2:06 remaining and the Jaguars’ lead whittled to 48-47.
Senior Joey Lillis answered with a three-point play for BV West. Sophomore Connor Kaiser, who finished with a team-high 17, bumped BV West’s lead to 53-47 a possession later with a sweet up-and-under finish.
The Jags hit just enough free throws from there
“We knew we had something special, but it took a while to put the pieces together,” senior Conley Wilkins said.
BV Northwest boys 73, Derby 36
Unlike its quarterfinal two days earlier, Blue Valley Northwest had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard right from the tip in a 73-36 semifinal rout of Derby in the other semifinal.
The top-seeded Huskies, 24-0, started the game 11 for 13 from the field, including a impressive seven-for-nine display from three-point range, building a 30-5 lead in the first 11 minutes and reaching the state title game for the fourth straight season.
“We came down Wednesday and were a little tentative and overwhelmed, but we came back with a pretty good focus tonight,” BV Northwest coach Ed Fritz said. “It seemed like we were locked in early.”
Juniors Vince Fritz and David Salach hit jumpers and another junior, Ben Richardson, swished a three-pointer before Salach knifed down the lane and thundered home the first of three ferocious dunks as the Huskies opened with a 9-0 run.
Junior Kyle Harrison, who finished with 14 points, splashed the first of his four threes sandwiched between two Panthers buckets for a 12-4 lead.
Harrison and Iowa State-bound junior Clay Custer — who finished with game-highs for points (25), assists (five) and steals (four) — added two threes apiece in an 18-1 run that essentially iced the game by the 5:03 mark in the second quarter.
“We came in more relaxed and wanting to enjoy it, so that’s why I think our shots started falling,” Harrison said.
Wichita South girls 51, BV North 48
Blue Valley North senior Ali Pollard hit two free throws with 15.2 seconds left as the Huskies drew within 49-48 against Wichita South in Friday’s Class 6A girls quarterfinals.
During a timeout, BV North coach Ann Fritz told her squad to hack Titans sophomore Kirea Rogers on the ensuing inbound play.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, Rogers broke free and streaked up court before passing to freshman Kendrian Elliott for a fast-break layup and the dagger in a 51-48 win for the top-seeded Titans.
“We had our opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them and forced some shots at some critical times,” Fritz said. “But they’re a good team, and they hit some shots also.”
The Mustangs play for third place at noon today.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.