When the Blue Valley North High School boys basketball team was 3-3 earlier this season, it was clear something needed to change.
The Mustangs chose to channel their frustration into a team meeting. Since then, the results are pretty obvious.
BV North coach Ryan Phifer points to that team meeting as the catalyst for a turnaround, which has put the Mustangs back in the hunt for an Eastern Kansas League title with an 11-4 record.
“We stayed positive, stayed the course and handled the adversity really well,” Phifer said. “Now, the guys are playing with a lot of confidence, so it is pretty fun to see.”
The Mustangs advanced to last year’s Kansas Class 6A state title game. They lost to rival Blue Valley Northwest and lost several seniors from that team, but the excitement and momentum meandered into the offseason.
“Once the summer started, we weren’t quite sure what our expectations would be, but we had a tremendous summer,” Phifer said. “The expectations were that we could be right back there from some people on the outside. I think some of the players believed it, too, but there was a lot of inexperience on our team.”
Cooper Cook, BV North’s lone returning starter, has helped bridge the gap by averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Phifer said his presence created a bit of an issue early in the season, as the rest of the team tried to adjust to their new roles.
“We want to play off of him, but they needed to know that we had confidence in them,” Phifer said. “Once they had done that, our offense has been much better. They have always been great teammates and great kids. I think it is starting to click.”
Games to watch
Blue Valley Northwest at Bishop Miege, 7:45 p.m. Friday
It has been almost two months since BV Northwest and Bishop Miege squared off, but the memory is still fresh.
Bishop Miege won the first matchup 55-51, their closest margin of victory this season. It sparked an eight-game winning streak that ended at the Saints Classic with a loss to Olathe East. Miege, though, bounced back to win four of its next five games for an 11-2 record entering Tuesday night’s game against Aquinas.
The Huskies, the Kansas Class 6A defending state champions, have struggled to find their footing after losing all five starters from that state title team. They are 2-3 in their last five games, but are coming off a 58-54 victory against St. Thomas Aquinas.
Olathe East at Olathe North, 7 p.m. Friday
On paper, this may not look like a great matchup. However, the combined athleticism between Olathe East and Olathe North’s boys basketball teams could make it a lot of fun to watch.
Olathe East is 9-5, but the Hawks have three players averaging in double figures. Javion Blake leads the group with 15.9 points per game, with Cedric Roland and Cameron Hunter adding 11.3 and 10.1, respectively.
Olathe North is 12-2 and undefeated in Sunflower League play. The Eagles are led by RJ Smith, who is averaging 14.5 points per game. Teammate Alonzo Williams chips in 11.8 points per game.
The Eagles also have Missouri football signee Josh Moore, who averages 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.