Joco Sports

913 boys hoops notes: Despite absence of league foes, St. James battles on

Because St. James Academy does not play in a league, the Thunder's boys basketball team has to create its own competitive atmosphere as it prepares for state.

Although St. James entered Tuesday night’s game against Hogan Prep with a 7-10 record, the team has been competitive in almost every loss with nine of its 10 losses having been decided by seven points or fewer.

“On one hand it’s been frustrating to have been so close in so many games, but on the other hand, it’s encouraging that we’ve played a really tough schedule and have been in every game,” St. James coach Stan Dohm said. “It gives us a quiet confidence going into postseason play.”

Dohm said some of the biggest differences in the close losses have been late-game free throw shooting.

Vikings adjusting to smaller lineup

Even though Shawnee Mission West has been playing without senior Nick Banman, who is battling an ankle injury, the Vikings have been finding ways to win with a smaller lineup.

Entering Tuesday night’s game against Olathe South, SM West had won two consecutive games and improved its record to 5-11. A big part of that success has been the emergence of freshman Zach Witters, who has added a spark since joining the starting lineup in midseason.

“Earlier in the year, we really battled and had trouble finishing games,” SM West coach Ryan Darst said. “A couple of times it was not making free throws, a couple times it was turnovers late. We’ve got a small margin for error, so we’ve got to keep plugging away.”

Jaguars keep plugging along

Blue Valley West’s record may not show it, but head coach Donnie Campbell said his squad has been improving.

“Earlier in the year, we were losing games, we were turning the ball over too much, and that makes your defense look bad because you’re giving up easy baskets,” Campbell said. “We’ve done a better job of not turning the ball over and taking good shots, and I think that has helped our defense.”

Entering Tuesday night’s game against St. Thomas Aquinas, BV West was 6-9 coming off a 4-point victory over BV Southwest.

Saints look to get healthy

For the St. Thomas Aquinas boys basketball team, it’s all about trying to get through the next couple of weeks and get the team back together.

The Saints have won five of their last six, but they’re battling through a litany of injuries to their starters. The first step was getting senior guard Austin Cruz back last week since mid-January after an ankle injury. The team is still missing James Pyle, who injured his knee, and Riley Pint, who injured his foot after filling in for the other two.

“If we can get healthy and stay healthy, we believe that we can be competitive and potentially win some games in March,” coach Sean Reilly said. “That’s our key right now.”