One by one, the Blue Valley Northwest starters were subbed out of the Kansas Class 6A semifinals on Friday night at Charles Koch Arena.
They didn’t sit still very long. While their substitutes fought to hold off Lawrence Free State, the starters jumped to their feet every time someone added to Blue Valley Northwest’s comfortable lead.
Then BV Northwest’s Sam Ward took a pass from Willy Pegues with 1:20 on the clock, charged down the court and leapt onto the rim. His dunk had 6-foot-8 Parker Braun — who scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and made all three BV Northwest blocks — and his teammates hopping and hollering.
The 30-point advantage didn’t last, but Blue Valley Northwest beat Free State 67-40 to advance to the state championship for the first time since winning it in 2014. That was more than enough.
BV Northwest (21-3) will play Lawrence (17-7), the No. 7 seed that defeated Blue Valley North 41-36 earlier Friday, in Wichita on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The showdown will pit the Eastern Kansas League (BV Northwest) against the Sunflower League (Lawrence) in the championship, securing the Kansas City metro area a Kansas 6A title for the second year in a row.
The Lawrence Chesty Lions will have their work cut out for them. After Darien Jackson tilted the box score with 22 points in Wednesday’s 70-54 win over Garden City, Blue Valley Northwest spread the offense on Friday and the result was four players who scored in double digits.
JaMichael Morgan had 12 points, Jackson 14 and junior Joseph Pleasant added 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds for BV Northwest.
Free State was led by Garret Luinstra’ and Cameron Clark-McGinnis’ eight-point performances.
Free State will play Blue Valley North on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the third-place game.