Between the experience and athleticism that the Olathe North High School boys basketball team returned this year, coach Jeff Walton was hopeful about their ability to move on without Julian Winton, who averaged 19 points per game.
Sure enough, the Eagles flexed their muscles recently and captured the Hays City Shootout title with victories against Newton, Garden City and Hays. Juniors Alonzo Williams and R.J. Smith were named to the all-tournament team.
“You’re never sure what you have, but I was leaning toward the positive because we brought so many kids back from last year’s team,” Walton said. “The two things I told the guys I was most happy about were that we competed hard defensively and we shared the ball as well as any team I’ve had.”
The Eagles, 3-0, are hoping to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish in the Sunflower League. They posted a 13-9 record and went 5-6 in league play.
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Ravens win Paola title
Olathe Northwest coach Mike Grove saw his Ravens grow up during their weekend in the Paola Tournament.
In their first two games against Harrisonville and Eudora, Grove says they improved. By the third game against Paola, they were able to execute their game plan and hold Frontier League first-teamer Mason McDow to just nine points in a 43-29 victory.
“Being able to win one early gives guys the confidence and the thought process of what you need to do when you go into a team bracketed tournament,” Grove said. “I think we gained a lot from it. We have a long way to go, but I have definitely seen some strides in players.”
The Ravens’ two returning starters — Jaymond Kelly and Devin Anctil — each earned all-tournament honors, averaging 13.3 and 12.7 points, respectively.
After an extended break, Olathe Northwest will return to action at 3 p.m. on Jan. 3 against Center.
On deck: Hy-Vee Shootout
This week’s Hy-Vee Shootout at Avila University will feature 10 Johnson County area boys teams on display in four days.
Bishop Miege leads the group as the top-ranked team in the Class 4A Division I coaches association state poll. The Stags will face Liberty at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Fourth-ranked Olathe East from Class 6A will play later on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Rock Bridge. St. Thomas Aquinas, which is fourth in 5A, will play Lee’s Summit West at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Defending Class 6A champion Blue Valley Northwest and runner-up Blue Valley North each play on Saturday. Northwest will face Rockhurst at 1:30 p.m., and North plays Center at 10:30 a.m.
St. James Academy will play on Wednesday. SM West, SM South, SM East and Blue Valley West will play on Saturday.