Olathe North’s combination of experience and athleticism has propelled the Eagles into contention for a Sunflower League boys basketball title.
However, coach Jeff Walton is not taking those things for granted as the Eagles put their 11-2 record to the test down the toughest stretch of the regular season.
“I would be an imbecile to say I’m not happy where we are, from a win-loss perspective,” Walton said. “I can’t believe we are winning these games with some of the statistics we have, but it is kind of encouraging knowing that we haven’t played our best basketball yet. Hopefully, we’ll see that in the next couple of weeks.”
A few of those head-scratching statistics include the Eagles only having one player shooting higher than 50 percent from two-point range, the team only shooting 58 percent from the free-throw line, and only having one guy shooting high than 35 percent from three-point range.
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Those factors contributed to an early loss to Gardner Edgerton and a more recent loss to Emporia in the Chanute Tournament, where the Eagles finished third in late January.
“We aren’t good enough to just show up and throw our uniforms out there and expect to beat good teams,” Walton said. “I hope we continue to learn that lesson.”
Olathe North has plenty to be happy about, as well. Division I football prospect Josh Moore is averaging a near double-double in basketball. The Eagles also feature a balanced attack from R.J. Smith and Alonzo Williams, Both are averaging 14 points per game.
The Eagles start the final leg of the regular season with a Friday night matchup against Shawnee Mission East at home, then travel to SM West and plays host to Olathe East next week.
“Our decision-making has got to get better and the length of time we are able to put together possessions has to get better,” Walton said. “Down the stretch here, we can’t give possessions away.”
Games to watch
Lawrence at Shawnee Mission South, 7 p.m. Friday
Although they have been tested, Lawrence remains undefeated in Sunflower League play.
The Lions were undefeated until last weekend, when they lost to Wichita East in the title game of the Topeka Invitational.
Shawnee Mission South has the unique opportunity to try and extend Lawrence’s losing streak when the Raiders play host to Lawrence on Friday.
It would be a huge resume boost for SM South, which enters the matchup at 8-5. The Raiders have won five of their last six games, including a two-point victory against Shawnee Mission West on Friday. That victory avenged a 10-point loss from early January.
Only two of SM South’s losses have come against Sunflower League schools. They also lost twice to out-of-town teams.
Bishop Miege at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m. Tuesday
The last time these two boys basketball teams met, the game went down to the wire.
Aquinas managed to tie the score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Saints were never able to capitalize and take the lead. That led to a 52-45 victory by Bishop Miege.
Now, Aquinas gets the Stags on its home court with a chance at revenge and a crowd in the bleachers that has no trouble getting fired up for a rivalry game.
Shortly after the Jan. 16 game, Bishop Miege suffered its first loss of the season agaisnt Olathe East. Miege, though, had ralllied to win three straight entering Tuesday night’s game against Blue Valley North.
During the same time frame, Aquinas won three of four games and was 9-3 entering a Tuesday night game against Blue Valley Southwest. Besides the loss to Miege, Aquinas also suffered setbacks against Gardner Edgerton and Barstow.