The last five regular season basketball games for the Olathe North High School boys team could be brutal, and head coach Jeff Walton says his team is appropriately wary.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
The stretch will feature three teams that are ranked in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A Top 10, and the other two do not offer much of a reprieve either.
Walton said, however, his team did receive a timely boost last Friday with a 51-40 victory against Shawnee Mission East that snapped a nine-year losing streak to the Lancers and improved the Eagles’ record to 11-3.
“When we look at facing murderer’s row here coming down the stretch, we were thinking that if we are going to keep this momentum going, we are going to have to pop these teams who have similar records,” Walton said.
Continuing about his players, Walton added, “They all think 'we can win every single game,' and if they really believe that, then we’ve at least got a chance. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Walton said the team’s biggest strength is how they’ve come together to combine a variety of personalities and talents so far this year.
“We have a nice mixture of length, we’ve got a little bit of beef, we’ve got some kids that are really explosive, if you’re looking at a high school basketball team,” Walton said. “That’s a pretty good recipe in high school.”
Cougars rely on defense
The Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball team might not be much of a threat from beyond the arc, but the Cougars have made up for it by getting the ball down the court quickly and taking it to the rim.
That aggressiveness on offense and focus on the defensive end has kept them undefeated so far in Sunflower League play and helped them to an 11-3 record overall entering Tuesday night’s game against Lawrence.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Cougars coach Mike Rose said. “Our kids play really hard on the defensive end, really hard, and we can provide some tough matchups for other teams the way we play defense.”
EKL: Drama shaping up
With four games left in the regular season, all signs point to Blue Valley North and Blue Valley Northwest’s matchup next Tuesday as a decisive game.
Blue Valley North took the lead in the Eastern Kansas League standings with an upset victory against Blue Valley Northwest on Jan. 31. Going into Tuesday night’s game against Blue Valley West, the Mustangs had rattled off two more league wins to improve to 10-3 overall and 8-0 in league play. Blue Valley Northwest sits just behind them at 11-2 and 6-1.
Olathe East atop 6A
With Olathe East leading the way, the Sunflower League has five teams in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A poll. Lawrence is ranked second with Shawnee Mission Northwest sixth, Shawnee Mission South seventh and Olathe North eighth.
Two Eastern Kansas League teams are also ranked with Blue Valley North third and Blue Valley North fifth.