Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
Despite being down by 10 points halfway through the 2nd quarter, the Gardner-Edgerton High School boys basketball team rallied back and overpowered visiting Shawnee Mission North the rest of the way, recording a 74-53 Sunflower League victory Friday night at GEHS Fieldhouse.
The Trailblazers received 20-plus point efforts from junior guard Teven McKelvey and senior post Luke Jennings on the way to the 21-point victory.
The night did not begin auspiciously for the home team, as GEHS fell victim to the hot shooting of North guards Zach Nelson (Jr.) and Amari Williams (Sr.). 9 of North’s first 11 points came off Williams’ three-pointers as the Indians’ shooting guard did not miss in the 1st quarter. North claimed a 17-11 lead after one period.
The Indians’ torrid shooting continued into the 2nd quarter, and — after Nelson hit a 3 from the top of the key to make the score 25-15 — Gardner-Edgerton head coach Steve Wallace was forced to call a timeout with 5:03 left in the half.
From that point on, the Blazers were a different team. GEHS spent the next 4 minutes on a 10-1 run that began with a McKelvey trey from the right side and was punctuated by another right side three from senior guard Tyler Rollwagen off an assist from junior forward Preston Rohr. The home team went into the halftime down by only 3, 28-25.
The Blazers’ momentum continued into the opening minutes of the 2nd half. Beginning with a traditional 3-point play by GEHS senior forward Brody Marshall, the Trailblazers opened the 3rd quarter on a 7-1 run to claim a 35-29 edge. Up 4 points at 39-35 with 4:00 minutes remaining in the period, the Trailblazers mounted a 9-0 run punctuated by a McKelvey steal at half court and subsequent layup by the junior. GEHS went into the 4th quarter with a 50-39 lead.
The Indians closed to within 7 at 52-45 with 6:20 remaining, but a 10-2 Blazer run all but eliminated all remaining hopes for the visitors, with Marshall scoring 5 of those 10. McKelvey put an exclamation point on a 9-0 run late in the game when he intercepted an errant North pass at half court and exploded for a two-handed slam, making the score 71-52 Blazers.
After the game, Wallace spoke about what allowed his team to weather the storm of North’s early shooting and take back momentum.
“We knew those two kids were good,” said Wallace. “They’re really good players. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to practice the last two days because of school being cancelled. So, I think that played a little role. In the second half, we switched Brody on to number 13 (Williams) and put Teven on number 2 (Nelson), and when Brody picked up some foul trouble we put Luke on 13. That length helped us bother them a little bit. Those guys did a really good job of staying in front of them and making them take tough shots.”
McKelvey went on to echo his coach’s sentiments.
“I think it was defensive assignment stuff and who we were guarding,” stated McKelvey of his team’s 2nd half effort. “Then we hustled way more in the 2nd half because we felt we were the better team, and we weren’t going to let them beat us. So we just started playing more aggressively, and it was easier to get steals.”
McKelvey led all scorers with 26 points to go with 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, while Jennings racked up 22 points, 6 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals. Marshall collected 14 points and a team-high 8 rebounds, Rollwagen notched 4 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists, junior post Talor Warner had 4 points and 2 rebounds, and Rohr racked up 6 boards and a team-high 6 assists.
The win improved the Trailblazers’ overall record to 8-8 and was the team’s 6th win in their last 8 games.