There will be some growing pains for the Blue Valley Northwest girls basketball team this season, but after three tough losses, they finally have a win.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
With a new head coach and two underclassmen in the starting lineup, Blue Valley Northwest defeated Olathe North 66-40 on Thursday night for the team’s first win of the new season. The Huskies improved to 1-3, and the Eagles dropped to 1-2.
“It’s been well-earned, I think,” senior forward Lauren Mertz said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice, and the last three games have been really toughly fought. It feels really good to see our hard work pay off in a game finally.”
The Huskies started the season with a 49-48 loss to Shawnee Mission South, then lost 52-48 to Blue Valley Southwest in the second game. The third game was a 53-48 loss to Bishop Miege, but coach Brian Bubalo said it felt much closer.
“It’s nice to finish on top,” Bubalo said. “They’re a good group to work with. I really like them.”
The Eagles hung with the Huskies early, thanks to seven first quarter points from senior forward Syrra Lindsey, but by the end of the quarter, she had three fouls, and the Huskies had taken a 19-13 lead.
The Huskies held the Eagles to just nine points in the second quarter to go into halftime leading 48-29.
“At the end of the second quarter I thought we finally started playing better,” Bubalo said. “Our zone gave them some trouble, we cut down their layups, and we finally started making our shots. I thought our zone defense in the last three or four minutes of the second quarter helped us get that lead.”
Senior guard Lexa Sterling led the Eagles with 15 points, including 12 in the second half, but the rally fell short. Lindsey followed her with 12 points.
The victory was especially cathartic for Mertz, who committed to Kansas State after her freshman season but missed the next two years with ACL injuries. Her younger sister Mya also missed part of last season with a torn ACL.
“I feels awesome,” Lauren said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy in my entire life. I feel great.”
The Huskies had a balanced scoring attack which included 16 points from the Mertz girls in the post. Mya and Lade Adepoju led the Huskies with 10 points, Scout Watson added nine, Holly Hull had eight, and Sarah Fugate had seven, while Lauren Mertz and Deanna Bugarinovic each had six.