The Mustangs expected to be a good, possibly great, team this season, so that loss could have been a setback.
Of course, there’s no shame in losing to the Saints, 10-0, especially this season.
“The EKL has some of the better teams around, so we hoped it would be an inspiration,” Mustangs coach Ann Fritz said. “We had opportunities in that game, and we didn’t capitalize, but hopefully we’ve gotten better.”
Rather than allow the loss to fester, BV North used it as fuel. The next time out, the Mustangs crushed William Chrisman 78-34 at the Hy-Vee Shootout.
BV North followed that with a lopsided 25-point win over Bishop Miege, then roughed up BV Southwest, BV West and Gardner Edgerton in succession before opening the KA-MO Classic, which it hosts this week, with a solid 60-51 win against Notre Dame de Sion.
Now, the Mustangs have won six straight games entering a KA-MO semifinal battle with Staley at 7:30 tonight.
With a win, BV North might get to find out exactly how far it has come since Dec. 6 by taking another crack at Aquinas, assuming the Saints can slip past Blue Springs in the other semifinal game.
“I have a really good group of girls, and I hope that game lit a fire and gave them confidence,” Fritz said. “I just hope I can keep it going, but I don’t want to jinx us or anything.”
Led by seniors Ali Pollard, Caroline Dupont and Christian Keys, the Mustangs are on a roll.
Juniors Brian Pierce and Maria Klug, who have started since they were freshmen, bring additional experience to the starting lineup. Freshmen Micaela Delagarza, Trinity Cuffee and Kelly Hendershot bring energy off the bench.
“Those freshmen played with us all summer, and they didn’t miss a day,” Fritz said. “That has only benefited them now.”
Still, relying on so much youth off the bench, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect BV North to grow by leaps and bounds as the season goes along.
Fritz, though, isn’t allowing herself to look at the big picture. Contending for a state title hasn’t entered her thoughts quite yet, but with BV North climbing to fourth in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, many observers around the state view it as a distinct possibility.
“I don’t think you ever look that far ahead,” Fritz said. “The season’s so long. You take it game by game, but that’s our goal every year – to have that opportunity.”
Midseason tourney action heats up
While the BV North and Aquinas girls prepare for a potential KA-MO Classic Armageddon, the East Kansas League boys’ teams also are gearing up for midseason tournaments.
Undefeated BV Northwest, which has a two-game lead in the loss column in the race for the EKL title, is a heavy favorite at Valley Center’s January Jam. Only one other team in the field, Garden City, had a winning record when the brackets were drawn.
The Huskies ought to cruise to the crown.
At Shawnee Mission West’s Viking Classic, assuming the seeds hold, the semifinals matchups promise intrigue with BV North potentially facing a rough-and-tumble, battle-tested Blue Springs South squad, and the host Vikings likely to meet perennial Missouri powerhouse Rockhurst.
Hosting the 21st Annual Saints Classic, St. Thomas Aquinas is likely to be tested in its semifinal against the winner between Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) and Bishop Carroll of Wichita, but the opposite side of the bracket — including Bishop Miege, Washburn Rural, Grandview and SM Northwest — appears to be more competitive.
Meanwhile, Blue Valley should get the chance to see what all the fuss surrounding Ottawa’s Semi Ojeleye is about. The Tigers should meet the Cyclones and Ojeleye, a Duke-bound senior, in the semifinals at the Basehor-Linwood Invitational on Thursday (barring any upsets Tuesday night).
Fresh off toppling rival BV North last week, BV West hopes to build off that momentum-gathering victory at the McPherson Invitational. The Jaguars open against Manhattan and could face an undefeated SM East squad in the semifinals.The host Bullpups lurk on the other half of the bracket.
Finally, Gardner Edgerton is also coming off a win against BV North. The Trailblazers face a tough field at the El Dorado/Bluestem Tournament, opening against Wichita Trinity and potentially facing unbeaten El Dorado or a pair of one-loss teams, Wichita Kapaun-Mount Carmel and Wichita Collegiate, down the road.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.