Coach Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School boys basketball team ran into a staunch full court defense and their own second half free throw shooting woes Friday night, losing to visiting Olathe East, 53-51, at Gardner-Edgerton High School Gymnasium.
In a game in which the lead changed hands 10 times, the Trailblazers were just 7-of-12 from the free throw line in the second half (and 3-for-6 in the fourth quarter), after going 5-of-6 from the charity stripe in the first two quarters. In addition, the Blazers had trouble advancing the ball against the East full court press, which seemed to throw the GEHS offense off rhythm even when the Blazers were able to beat it.
“The first half I thought we were pretty patient on offense,” said Gardner-Edgerton head coach Steve Wallace after the game, “so we were able to get some pretty good looks. The second half I thought we got a little more antsy. They pressed us a little bit, and we allowed them to speed us up. Our offense got sped up and took some shots we didn’t necessarily need to take.”
The Blazers jumped out to the game’s first lead when senior forward Preston Rohr converted a layup from the right side to make the score 2-0. After East claimed the lead, GEHS senior guard Teven McKelvey took it back for the home team when he sank a layup from the left side off an assist from sophomore point guard Jake McClure to make the score 6-5 Trailblazers. After the Hawks went up 10-6, Gardner-Edgerton scored the last 4 points of the quarter when, first, junior guard Reggie Dennis grabbed a defensive rebound and then drove the length of the floor to score on a layup, and then when McKelvey sank a pair of free throws with just 3.6 seconds remaining in the quarter. After one period, the teams were knotted at 10-10.
In the second quarter, the Hawks seized a three-point lead three times. However, the Blazers pulled even at 21-21 when McKelvey stole a Hawks’ pass, flicked the ball ahead to Rohr on the break, who then fed junior guard Kellen Kueser for a left-handed layup, with just over a minute to play in the first half. East briefly reclaimed the lead at 23-21. With 0:31.3 remaining, McKelvey hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to tie the game again, then put the Blazers up 26-23 at the break when he hit a buzzer-beating three from the right corner off a McClure assist.
The Hawks went on an 8-2 run to start the third quarter, seizing a 31-28 lead four minutes into the frame. The lead increased to 34-30 when East senior shooting guard Kamari Armstrong canned a trey from the top of the key. The Blazers responded with a 5-0 run to retake the lead, and the game seesawed the rest of the quarter before the Hawks’ junior guard, Kameron Byers, hit a jumper in the lane to put East up 40-38 going into the 4th quarter.
Just after a minute into the final period, Trailblazer junior guard Ethan Reynolds hit a hanging jumper in the lane to close the deficit to one at 42-41. However, the Hawks scored the next 5 points and seemed ready to salt the game away at 47-41. Yet, McKelvey and the Blazers had one more charge left in them. With five-and-a-half minutes left in the game, McKelvey nailed another right corner three off an assist from McClure, making the score 47-44. Less than a minute later, the senior guard drained his second trey in a row, this one off a dish from senior guard Dayvin Johnson, and the score was 49-47 Olathe East. Then, with just under three minutes left in the game, McClure evened things up at 49-49 when he nailed a jumper from the charity stripe. However, the Blazers went 2-for-4 from the foul stripe, missed two open looks at the basket, and lost out on crucial offensive rebounds in the last minute-and-a-half of the contest. Despite all of that, the Blazers still had a remote chance of winning in the last seconds after Rohr rebounded a free throw miss from East senior post Andrew Sonner with 3.3 seconds left. However, Rohr’s desperation heave from halfcourt ended up off target, and the Hawks escaped with the victory.
McKelvey was the Blazer’s scoring and rebounding leader for the night, with 15 points and seven rebounds to go with his two assists. Rohr added nine points, three boards, and two assists, Reynolds recorded eight points, McClure went for five points, three rebounds, and three dimes, junior post Austin Weiner racked up five points and two boards, Dennis had four points and two rebounds, Kueser notched three points, and Johnson had two points and five rebounds.
The loss drops the Blazers to 6-12 on the year. Gardner-Edgerton’s regular season will conclude with contests this week. Sub-State play is set to begin a week from this Wednesday.