Coach Pete Logan
Despite being down by 15 points in the fourth quarter, the Gardner-Edgerton High School boys’ basketball team mounted a valiant comeback that pulled them to within three with just less than 15 seconds to go, but couldn’t close that last distance, as they fell to Olathe West, 52-47 last weekend at Gardner-Edgerton High School Gymnasium.
In a way, the Trailblazers were playing a team that was almost a mirror image of themselves in the visiting Owls. Both teams were very patient on offense, worked for shots, and played stout defense. However, turnovers and empty offensive sets in the second and third quarters were what doomed GEHS.
“Offensively,” said Gardner-Edgerton head coach Zach White immediately after the game, “I thought we were getting a little bit off balance. On our drives, we talk a lot about being on two feet and being on balance. We didn’t do a great job of being on balance, and that was where a lot of our turnovers came from. I think they did a pretty good of defending us. That’s a pretty good defensive team.”
The game opened as a back-and-forth affair with the Owls earning the opening bucket of the game but GEHS bouncing back to take a 4-3 lead on back-to-back baskets by senior point guard Ethan Reynolds. After Olathe West retook the lead at 5-4, Trailblazer junior shooting guard Jake McClure seized it back on a three-point basket from the top of the key off a Reynolds’ assist, making the score 7-5. Later in the quarter, McClure tied the game at 10-10 with a right corner three off an assist from sophomore point guard Malaki Taylor. However, the owls closed the period on a 7-0 run and took a 17-10 lead into the second quarter.
That 7-0 run turned into a 12-0 run in the opening minutes of the second quarter, before Trailblazer senior point guard Kellen Kueser stopped the bleeding when his left-sided layup made the score 22-12 West. However, the Owls’ senior shooting guard Aidan Sturdivan then sank his fourth trey of the half to establish an 13-point lead for the visitors at 25-12. However, after a Gardner-Edgerton timeout, the Blazers responded with a traditional 3-point play from McClure and then a steal by Kueser, who then fed the ball ahead to McClure, who came to a jump stop in the lane and sank a jumper, making the score 25-17. The Owl lead would remain at eight, as the two teams entered the halftime break with West holding a 30-22 advantage.
The thirrd quarter saw both teams frustrated on offense, with neither team able to score in the first four minutes of the third frame. Eventually, the West lead grew to 13 in the quarter before Kueser converted a hanging, acrobatic layup, was fouled, and sank the free throw for the traditional three-point play that made the score 37-27 West. However, the Owls earned the last basket of the period and took a 39-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
The West lead grew to 15 when the Owls’ senior post, Carter Lichtsinn, converted his own three-point play and made the score 42-27. That’s when the Trailblazers started edging their way back into the game. First Reynolds sank a hanging, one-handed jump shot in the lane, which was followed by a McClure three from the left side that made the score 42-32 with just over five minutes to play in the game. The Owl lead grew back to 12, but Reynolds responded with another hanger in the lane to make the score 46-36. A minute later, Kueser stole the ball deep in the Gardner-Edgerton side of the game and went the length of the court to sink the layup to make the score 46-38 with two-and-a-half minutes left. After West moved their advantage back up to 10, GEHS sophomore shooting guard Conner Elder responded with a left corner three off a Reynolds’ dish to make the score 48-41. After a defensive stop, Kueser nailed a top-of-the-key trey off another Reynolds’ dime that brought the Trailblazers to within four at 48-44 with 45.7 seconds left in the game. A pair of free throws from the Owls gave them a 6-point advantage, but McClure was determined to cut that lead down and sank a diving layup in the lane and was fouled. McClure’s bonus free throw was good, and the Blazers were within three at 47-44 with 13.6 seconds remaining, However, the home team was forced to foul, and West converted both, going home with a 52-47 win.
Offensively, McClure led the way for the Blazers with 17 points and four rebounds. Kueser notched 15 points to go with team-highs in assists and steals at four and two, respectively. Reynolds also reached double figures in points with 10, to go with his two boards and two assists, while Elder had three points, and senior post Ivan Jalabomy recorded two points to go with his team-high six rebounds.
With the loss, the Trailblazers are now 6-12 on the season.