On a Thursday night multiple milestone possibilities, Blue Valley Southwest senior girls’ basketball player Cooper Courtney achieved her feat.
Blue Valley North coach Ann Fritz? Hers is on hold.
Courtney reached the 1,000-point mark for her high-school career, notching 27 points and guiding the BV Southwest Timberwolves past the BV North Mustangs 65-52 at Blue Valley North.
The setback for Blue Valley North means Fritz is stuck on 499 career victories. Her sense of humor showed afterward when asked if she has mentioned closing in on No. 500 to her team before the game.
“I try not to talk about it to the team. Maybe I should have,” Fritz said.
The Fritz-Blue Valley North pairing was launched in 1996-97 after she departed from Center High School, where Fritz revived a struggling program by recording three consecutive Suburban Conference Small Seven championships before leaving.
Twenty years ago when she arrived at Blue Valley North, incumbent Bill Clinton was voted in for a second term as president. Top songs of the times included “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. The film “The English Patient” would go on to win best picture at the Academy Awards.
Although the Mustangs did not win a state championship that initial season, success was on the horizon. Fritz led Blue Valley North to its first of three state girls’ hoops championship in 1998. Titles would follow in 2000 and 2005. Some of the players who helped Fritz build her program and win include Christian Keys, Margo Herman, Jayme O’Bryan, Shahidrah Roberts, Tracy Lozier, Jacky Smith, Megan Boxberger, Jennifer Blues, and Blair Waltz.
Fritz could’ve used some of them against Blue Valley Southwest. The Timberwolves’ energy and ability to drive to the basket doomed BV North. Blue Valley Southwest’s other heralded senior, Rilynne Like, scored 19 points. Did we mention Like surpassed the 1,000-point career mark earlier this season?
“Our two seniors are carrying us, and our freshmen are starting to understand the game a little bit,” said BV Southwest coach Rick Rhoades, whose team scored the first seven points, never trailed and ultimately improved to 10-9 this season. “We’re playing our best basketball right now.”
Courtney concurred: “We’ve been focused on getting off to good starts all season. I wasn’t focused on getting to 1,000 points. Winning was always more important.”
Blue Valley North, 10-8, got 29 points from senior Micaela Delagarza, who was disappointed in not coming through for Fritz.
“She’s a good coach. She’s hard on you. She wants you to get better, tells us there’s always room for improvement,” Delagarza said.
Fritz, who as a high school player won a state title under coach Dave Rehfeld at Shawnee Mission East, says reaching 500 victories “is not that big a deal to me.” She had several family members and friends in attendance, including her father, Vince Costello, and husband Ed Fritz, boys coach at Blue Valley Northwest. They will have to wait to see her record that 500th triumph. To her, though, it is more about others than herself.
“It’s not about me,” Fritz said. “It’s about the kids, the families, that I’ve developed relationships with through the years. That is what it is all about. I just try to get the kids to work hard and grow as people.”