Lions fall short at state


McKenna White

Junior Trey Quartlebaum takes the ball down the court with the student section standing behind him during the first half of the state quarterfinal game against Blue Valley Northwest. The Huskey’s led from the start, knocking the Lions out of the tournament.

By William Yanek and Gary Schmidt

Junior Clarence King caught the ball on the wing and fired a three-point field goal. Then another. And then another. Catching fire from downtown, it was too little too late for the Lions, who dropped the opening round of the Class 6A State Basketball Tournament.

McKenna White
Junior Clarence King follows the action as Blue Valley Northwest’s Max Johnson streaks by. BVNW won the quarterfinals match-up 65-37.

Facing the number one ranked Blue Valley Northwest Huskies in the first round, who had not lost to a Kansas team all year, the Lions knew they were in for a challenge from the start.

How extreme that challenge was, the Lions could have never predicted, in their 65-37 loss.

The physical presence the Huskies displayed on both ends of the floor caught the Lions on their heels, and never gave them a chance to catch their breath.

“The thing that stood out was the effort and energy,” assistant coach Mike “Scoop” Harding said. “When we took a punch we didn’t punch back like we normally do.”

On the defensive end of the floor, the Huskies showed a variety of zone defenses. This combined with the extensive length of their defenders caused nightmares for any Lion trying to drive inside.

“They were good at switching defenses and it was hard to figure out what they were running,” junior Savonni Shazor said. “Once we did, they were very long and very athletic.”

On the offensive end of the floor, the Huskies attacked downhill, taking the ball and mercilessly driving it to the basket. Catching several Lions in foul trouble and swarming for every rebound, the Huskies controlled the paint, scoring their first seven points of the contest inside.

McKenna White
Senior Jake Rajewski and other starters took their final seat of the season after a difficult loss to Blue Valley Northwest.

“They were pounding it inside,” said junior Brett Chapple, who led the Lions in rebounding. ”It hurt our game plan of stopping their bigs. They are long and it was hard to guard.”

In total, the Huskies out-rebounded the Lions by 21.

This led to a 31-15 halftime deficit for the Lions, one they would only see grow.

In the second half, the Huskies turned up the tempo, getting out in transition by forcing turnovers. They would score 20 points off of turnovers over the course of the game.

The Lions derived the majority of their offensive firepower from King and Shazor behind the arc. King would finish with 13 on 5-11 shooting and Shazor with 10 on 3-5.

Despite the troubling night for the Lions, this year’s state appearance marked their fourth straight in a season not without its share of adversity.

McKenna White
Junior Clarence King dribbles the ball down the court at Koch Arena in Wichita on Thursday night for the state quarterfinals game against Blue Valley Northwest. The Lions lost, marking the team’s earliest exit from the tournament in four years. The Lions finished second last year after losing to the Huskies.

“I’m proud of the way we fought all season,” Harding said. “A lot of people had written us off, they thought we weren’t even going to make it past sub-state.”

Going into next year, the core group of Lions, led by a strong junior class, will remain largely intact.

“This loss really stings,” Shazor said. “We just gotta come out next year, with our seniors and show that we are the better team.”