With a chance to face its cross-town rival for a state title, the Blue Valley North boys basketball team was not going to let a semifinals game slip away from them.
Wichita East cut a 12-point lead all the way down to two points with 1 minute left, but Blue Valley North hung on for a 66-63 victory on Friday night at Koch Arena after Grant Schraeder hit the front end of a one-and-one.
Blue Valley North improved to 20-4 on the season and advanced to the Class 6A state championship, where it will face defending Class 6A state champ Blue Valley Northwest. The game — a second-straight all-Eastern Kansas League final — is at 6:15 Saturday
“I don’t know what it is about us, but we like to make it interesting for sure,” Mustangs coach Ryan Phifer said. “They are a resilient group and a special group. We are on a mission.”
The one who looked most directed was junior forward Cooper Cook who scored 13 straight points for the Mustangs across the second and third quarters while the Mustangs pushed their lead to double-figures for the first time. Cook finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds while going nine for 12 from the field.
“He is such a tough matchup for teams inside and out,” Phifer said. “When we struggled a little bit today, Cooper turned it on.”
The rest of the Mustangs followed suit, shooting 75 percent from the field in the second half and 61.9 percent for the game. Schraeder and Jawan Emery added 13 points each.Blue Valley Northwest 61, Maize 42
After back-to-back double-digit victories in the first two rounds of the 6A state tournament, the Blue Valley Northwest boys are back in the state championship game for the fifth consecutive season.
BV Northwest knocked out Maize with the help of senior guard Clayton Custer’s 20 points.
“I don’t want the guys to take it for granted because it is really hard to make it to state number one, and to get to the championship game is really hard,” Huskies coach Ed Fritz said.
The Huskies made it look easy though, jumping out to an early 8-0 lead. From there, they withered a 7-3 run by the Eagles before answering with 11 straight points to push the lead to double-figures. In the first half, Blue Valley Northwest shot nine for 18 from the field, including five of nine on three-pointers.
Blue Valley Northwest came out even stronger in the second half making 12 of 17 from the field for 70.6 percent.Wichita South girls 50, Olathe South 40
Olathe South knew it would have its hands full with the defending state champions from Wichita South, but up until the fourth quarter, the Falcons held pace.
Olathe South, which lost its third game of the season, fell to Wichita South and will play Manhattan for third place at noon on Saturday.
The Falcons trailed by four at the beginning of the fourth quarter and cut the lead to two points with about 5 minutes left, but were outscored 14-6 the rest of the way.
“The biggest factor was that I didn’t do a very good job of teaching them how we wanted to double,” Falcons coach Steve Ingram said. “We doubled weak side low at least five times, and they found that person for a layup. There’s 10 points right there. That’s the game.”
Wichita South outscored Olathe South 28-22 in the paint and won the rebounding battle 40-37.
Jordan Morton fell just short of a double-double for Olathe South, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds. Kylee Kopatich added 12 points for the Falcons.