Kansas.com

All Varsity Kansas Stories

6A boys: East, Maize stumble in semis

Published March 14 at 11:44 p.m. | Last updated March 15 at 6:31 a.m.

The East boys played their kind of basketball for the final four minutes of the Class 6A semifinal Friday night at Koch Arena.

Zach Jackson and Samajae Jones combined for three three-pointers. Xavier Kelly scored and got a blocked shot. Jones had a steal. It was a run that put the Aces in a position to win after trailing by as many as 14 points.

East’s chance to tie the score in the final seconds fell short, though, and Blue Valley North hung on for a 66-63 win.

BV North (20-4) will play defending champion Blue Valley Northwest (22-2) in the title game at 6:15 Saturday night. BV Northwest, which split with BV North in the regular season, advanced to its fifth straight title game with a 61-42 win over Maize (20-4).

For East, it was the little errors that hurt the most.

“There’s 100 things you could pick at,” said East coach Joe Jackson, whose team will play Maize in the third-place game at 2 p.m. Saturday. “We didn’t coach well enough, and we didn’t execute well enough on the floor.”

East (21-3) had raced out to a 12-3 lead with three-pointers by Jones and Zach Jackson, giving hope to the Aces that they’d run and shoot past BV North.

But East faltered defensively. BV North got to the rim for easy looks and shot 26 of 42 from the field, hitting its first eight shots of the third quarter to build a 50-36 lead. Cooper Cook finished with 20 points, but he scored 13 straight himself, including a three at the end of the first half.

Cook’s three was one of those errors Joe Jackson spoke of. East’s Musa Mutazammil got a steal in the final seconds of the half but the Aces turned it over and Cook banked in that three for a 33-25 lead.

“They shoot 62 percent, we shot low 40s,” Jackson said. “Our defense wasn’t where it needed to be. They outrebounded us by two — there’s two extra possessions in a three-point game, and that’s a big difference.

“We didn’t shoot free throws very well, either.”

East was 22 of 53 from the field, 13 of 21 from the line. Jones scored a game-high 23 points, while Zach Jackson had 16.

Down 62-50 with 4:12 to go, Kelly scored. Then Jones hit a three, Jackson hit a three, Jones another three.

East’s defense forced two turnovers and got within 65-63 with one minute to go.

When BV North guard Grant Schraeder missed two free throws with 21.6 seconds to go, East knew it was in position to steal the game.

But Jones missed a drive inside. There was still another chance, though.

Down by three with nine seconds remaining, Jones shot a little short on a contested three-pointer.

“This is definitely disappointing,” Joe Jackson said. “This group of young men wanted to come otu and play for a championship tomorrow night.…We’re not where we want to be.”

BV Northwest 61, Maize 42 — The Maize players sat silently in their locker room following the loss to the Huskies. There wasn’t much to say, even though the Eagles knew they were the underdog against the team largely considered the state’s best.

“We knew coming into this they were a great team,” said Maize senior Aaron Shaw, who scored a team-high 13 points. “They didn’t shoot that well (in the quarterfinals), so you knew they were going to come out hot. You leave them open once, and they’re going to get hot.

“They kept draining shots. We were down and had to fight back. We’ve done well at it all year long, but this isn’t an (Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail) team. This is the best in the state.”

BV Northwest hit consecutive threes in 34 seconds and got a steal and basket in transition as it went up 8-0 on Maize.

“I don’t think we panicked,” said Maize coach Chris Davis, whose team advanced to the semifinals for the first time in school history. “Didn’t call timeout. We got back to 11-7, tried to stay within our plan. They’re just so good. If you make one mistake defensively, they’ll make you pay for it.”

BV Northwest shot 21 of 35 from the field and 8 of 16 from three-point range. Senior Clay Custer hit 8 of 10 shots and had a game-high 20 points. Kyle Harrison shot 4 of 7 from three for 14 points and Ben Richardson hit 3 of 5 threes for 12 points.

Maize junior Connor Lungwitz scored six unanswered in the second period to get Maize within 22-13, but it didn’t get any closer.

Davis said the Eagles simply didn’t display the kind of tough play they’ve been accustomed to all season.

“We were getting pushed around, didn’t fight back,” Shaw said. “They were manhandling us. That’s not something we’re used to. We didn’t play tough, and it definitely affected how we played.”

Maize shot 17 of 41 from the field and just 3 of 5 from the free-throw line.

“It’s pure misery,” Davis said of losing. “Because you’re disappointed for a lot of people.”

Maize senior Aaron Shaw

Maize boys coach Chris Davis

BV Northwest coach Ed Fritz

BV North junior Cooper Cook

BV North coach Ryan Phifer

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.