Coach Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School boys basketball team fell victim to a smothering man-to-man defense from visiting Olathe North on Friday Night, losing 43-30 to the Eagles at Gardner-Edgerton High School gymnasium.
A speedy, athletic North squad put the clamps on the Trailblazers early, causing turnovers and often forcing the home team into less-than-optimal shot selection on offense.
“They were extremely athletic,” said GEHS Zach White, GEHS head coach, of the Blazers’ opponents after the game. “Any time you play Olathe North, you know you’re going to have athletes that fly around and are very active. We’ve just got to take care of the ball. Part of it was just being off balance. We’re trying to make decisions off of one foot and jumping up in the air, instead of coming to a jump stop, pivoting around, and making decisions. For us, it needs to be about being on balance and being in control.”
Despite North’s defensive intensity, control of the game was something that was still in question for most of the first half. After the Eagles had taken an early 4-1 lead, Trailblazer senior guard Kellen Kueser notched the game at 4-4 when he sank a three-point shot from the left side after a drive and a kick-out assist from Blazer junior point guard Jake McClure, just over three minutes into the 1st quarter. After North extended their lead to four, McClure brought Gardner-Edgerton back to within two at 10-8 with a right-sided layup off a dish from junior two-guard Tyler Butash with two minutes left in the quarter. However, the Eagles finished the 1st period on a 5-0 run to take a seven-point lead heading into the next eight minutes.
GEHS began the 2nd quarter on a 4-0 run to get the deficit to three points in the first two minutes of the frame. First, Trailblazer senior post Ivan Jalabomy converted a baseline layup from the right side, then McClure sank a jumper from the right side off an assist from senior point guard Ethan Reynolds to make the score 15-12. However, North responded with an 8-0 run to assert control. Kueser answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit back to eight, but it was answered with an 8-2 Eagle run that gave North a 31-17 advantage going into the second half.
Dominance on the boards helped the visitors start the third quarter on a 7-1 run, before GEHS sophomore guard Malaki Taylor responded with a trey from the right side off an assist from junior guard Carter Dewey that made the score 38-21. The Eagles’ advantage would stay at 17 at 40-23 going into the 4th quarter.
The Trailblazers employed some stingy defense of their own in the fourth quarter, holding the Eagles to just three points for the period. Offensively, the Blazers ended the game on a 7-0 run, including another three from Taylor — this time on a feed from Kueser with 4 minutes remaining in the contest.
Asked after the game what his team could learn from the loss, White reiterated the need for his squad to play under control.
“Being on balance will help us take care of the ball,” White said, “and then we need to play together. We tried to do a little too much one-on-one. We didn’t get enough ball movement or body movement at times. And then defensively, transition defense wasn’t great for us. It’s something we’ve been struggling with. It comes down to doing your job, every time. It’s not always the most fun thing in the world, sometimes you’ve got to grit and grind, but it’s doing your job every possession that’s important.”
Offensively, Kueser led all Blazers in scoring with nine points, while Taylor added six. Reynolds collected five points to go with six rebounds and two assists, McClure had four points, and Jalabomy recorded three points and tied Reynolds with a team-high six boards.
With the loss, the Trailblazers dropped to 0-3 on the season.