Between the flu, a case of mono and a few ankle injuries, the Blue Valley Southwest High School girls basketball team has only had a handful of practices with a completely healthy squad.
However, the Timberwolves have had girls step up when they need them most and have an 11-6 record entering the final weeks of the regular season.
“We’re down to basically seven kids that we play and off and on they’ve been injured or sick,” BV Southwest coach Rick Rhodes said. “It’s been crazy but we’re 11-6 and trying to get better and get some continuity.”
Timberwolves players who have stepped up include Taylor Westrom and Rilynne Like. Westrom is averaging 14.7 points across their last three games and Like is averaging 20.1 in the same span.
Although it would be difficult for the Timberwolves to pass Bishop Miege or St. Thomas Aquinas, who have just one loss between them, Rhodes is confident that his team is in a better place going into the substate playoffs at the end of the month.
The Timberwolves have just one loss outside Eastern Kansas League play and three of their four losses came against Miege and Aquinas. The other was to Blue Valley, but they avenged that loss later in the season.
“Defensively, we’ve got to play better to beat the really solid teams,” Rhodes said. “With short numbers we have not been able to up the intensity, but if we can keep the intensity on the defensive end, we can compete,”
The Timberwolves now turn their attention toward the final four EKL games, which include another matchup with undefeated Miege, to finish the regular season. Then, they proceed to substate, where they could face Aquinas again, as well.
“I think right now we’re in the top three, behind Aquinas and Mill Valley,” Rhodes said. “If we can stay away from some of the powerhouses in our substate, I think we will be able to compete.”
Games to watch
Olathe South at Lawrence Free State, 5:30 p.m. Friday
Both Olathe South and Lawrence Free State suffered tough losses on Friday, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to another difficult matchup.
The Falcons got off to a hot start, but eventually fell to Kansas Class 5A defending state champion Leavenworth at home. It was just Olathe South’s third loss of the season and first in Sunflower League play.
Lawrence Free State, meanwhile, has struggled lately, losing two of its last four games with a 63-38 loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest dropping the Firebirds to 3-2 in Sunflower League play. Look for sophomore Madison Piper to be a difference maker in this game. She is second in the league with 17.6 points per game.
Olathe East at Shawnee Mission Northwest, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
As the season winds down, the race for the Sunflower League girls title is heating up. Olathe East and SM Northwest are right in the middle of the race.
Entering Tuesday’s games, Olathe East and SM Northwest were two of the five teams with only one league loss. Overall, they have a combined 21-7 record, which puts them in third and fourth place in the league standings.
Olathe East’s lone league loss came against Olathe Northwest in a game where the Hawks allowed nine three-pointers. They have won seven in a row since, including a 65-16 rout of SM North last Friday.
SM Northwest handed Leavenworth its only conference loss of the season, but dropped one of its own to Olathe South. The Cougars rebounded from back-to-back losses with a 63-38 victory against Lawrence Free State on Friday.