Things haven’t been going Blue Valley North’s way lately, which might be why the Mustangs battled a case of the butterflies early in Friday’s Eastern Kansas League showdown against rival Blue Valley.
But BV North settled down when it needed to and came through with a 56-53 home victory.
It wasn’t easy, particularly down the stretch.
Blue Valley had a chance to tie the game with 4.4 seconds on a free-throw, but Gus Gomez’s shot rattled out.
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Blue Valley North’s Daekwon Gross responded with a pair of free throws with 2. 7 seconds left, putting the Mustangs up 56-53. .
The Tigers again had a chance to tie it at the buzzer, but Tyler Gelman’s desperation heave from halfcourt missed wide.
“Honestly, I just think we were tired of losing. ... That (Blue Valley) Northwest game (a 51-47 loss) was devastating, and we had a couple rough patches,” said Gross, who finished with 13 points. “But the coaches told us that we’d play better as a team, and we did.”
Blue Valley North coach Ryan Phifer said his Mustangs settled into a groove after making some buckets.
“Once a couple guys started hitting shots, you could see them exhale and relax,” Phifer said.
BV North, 9-5, needed an 8-0 run early in the third quarter to get things even at 35-35. Four of those points came from junior Colby Bullock, who scored a team-high 15 points.
Blue Valley, 10-4, got 18 points from Gelman, 12 from Gomez and 10 from Alexander DeBay. But the Tigers were unable to regain the offensive consistency they enjoyed in the first half while building a six-point lead.
Blue Valley didn’t get clean looks on the perimeter and seemed to be just a step ahead of itself.
“I don’t know if we tightened up or not, but you’ve got to give North credit,” Blue Valley coach Dwight Williams said. “They made plays when it counted. They made tough shots tonight.
“We had turnovers in bunches, and they didn’t. Right when we started making a comeback or tied the game, they would come down and hit one. They answered every time we answered, and that was kind of the difference.”