Coach Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton boys’ basketball team ended their regular season in impressive fashion last week, claiming victories on back-to-back evenings.
On Monday night, the Blazers held off a game Leavenworth squad, 60-53, then came back on Tuesday night to put down Sunflower League foe Olathe Northwest, 61-52.
On Monday night, GEHS senior point guard Kellen Kueser put the Trailblazers in front in the 1st quarter when his left corner three put the home team up 10-8. Fellow senior point guard Ethan Reynolds then extended the lead to 12-8 on an inbounds basket a minute later. However, the Pioneers ended the quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 13-12 lead into the next frame.
The teams went back-and-forth at each other in the second quarter, exchanging the lead. Eventually, GEHS junior two-guard Tyler Butash connected on a spinner through the lane that gave Gardner-Edgerton a 21-20 edge. Later, junior shooting guard Jake McClure connected on a three from the right side off a Kueser assist, and the Blazer lead reached 26-20. With just over two seconds left to go, sophomore Conner Elder missed a free throw but rebounded his own miss to hit a baseline jump shot at the buzzer that gave the Trailblazers a 29-24 halftime lead.
In the thirrd quarter, the GEHS lead grew to eight when senior post Ivan Jalabomy converted a layup from the left side, was fouled, and sank the ensuing free throw, making the score 32-24 Blazers. Yet Leavenworth pulled themselves back into the game, and — when Pioneer shooting guard D’Monte Gaw hit a right corner trey — the visitors were within three at 32-29. However, after a Gardner-Edgerton time out, Elder drained a three from the left corner off a Kueser dish that made the score 36-29. Then, once again, Elder ended the quarter’s scoring when another of his left corner treys from another Kueser dime made the score 42-35 heading into the final period. Reynolds scored the first 6 Blazer points of the 4th quarter and helped the home team build a 48-38 advantage three minutes into the final quarter. Yet, with just over two minutes left to play, a traditional three-point play from Leavenworth point guard Reggie Anderson had pulled the Pioneers to within 3, at 52-49. However, the Trailblazers used the Pioneers’ ensuing full court press to their advantage, as Jalabomy threw the inbounds pass over the head of the Leavenworth defenders and into the arms of a streaking Reynolds, who laid the ball in for a 54-49 lead. A minute later, Kueser connected on a layup from the left side that pushed the advantage to 7 at 57-50. The Blazers closed out the game with free throws and finally claimed a 60-53 win.
Reynolds led all Blazer scorers in the contest with 17, followed by Kueser with 14, Elder with nine, and Jalabomy and McClure with seven each.
Against Northwest the following night, McClure broke a 3-3 tie in the 1st quarter by splashing a three from the left side off a Butash assist and putting the Blazers up 6-3. Moments later, McClure made the score 8-3 when he scored an inbounds bucket from a Kueser assist. However, the Ravens drew closer, until they trailed by just one, point, 12-11, at the end of the quarter.
The Ravens briefly took the lead in the second quarter, before Trailblazer sophomore shooting guard Malaki Taylor drained a three from the right side to put the home team up 15-13. Kueser then stretched the lead to 17-13 off a layup from the left side from an assist from Reynolds. Yet that would be the end of the scoring for the Trailblazers in the quarter, as both teams headed into the halftime break knotted at 17-17.
Gardner-Edgerton turned in a dominant third quarter performance, opening the frame up with a 16-0 scoring run to take control of the game. First, McClure seized back the lead for the Trailblazers when he buried a three from the left corner off a Reynolds’ dime, making the score 20-17. Then, Kueser went off on his own 9-0 run as GEHS grabbed a double digit lead. His layup from the left side put the home team up 22-17. After a Ravens’ timeout, Kueser returned with a traditional three-point play from a left-sided layup, then followed that by scooping up a loose ball and converting another left side layup. After Kueser sank two free throws on the Blazers’ next trip down court, the Blazers led 29-17. Reynolds kept the thirrd quarter scoring streak going up to 16-0 with two layups of his own — one off a steal of the ball at halfcourt — and Gardner-Edgerton led 33-17 before Northwest could earn their first basket of the half. The Traiblazers would take a 41-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
Taylor extended the lead back out to 16 to begin the final quarter when he nailed a left corner trey from a Reynolds’ assist to make the score 44-28. The Ravens were forced to foul down the stretch, but the Trailblazers were efficient in the final minutes, converting multiple free throws. McClure led the way for the Blazers in the waning minutes, going 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. Northwest did manage to pull within seven with under a minute to play, but a Reynolds’ breakaway layup off a long inbounds assist salted the game away for the Blazers, 61-52.
“We got some pretty good looks in the first half,” said GEHS head coach Zach White immediately after Tuesday’s game, “and we had maybe our second and third best shooters getting some shots. Then, in the second half, we made sure to work a little bit harder to get our first and second best shooters shots more. We didn’t make major adjustments at halftime, just reassuring the kids to play how they’re supposed to play and to make sure that you’re taking ‘your’ shot, and they made them. Sometimes it’s just about making the shots.”
McClure led the Blazers offensively on the night with 21 points, to go with his five rebounds and four assists. Reynolds notched 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two deflections, while Kueser racked up 13 points, two boards, three assists, and two deflections. Taylor had six points for the Blazers, while Jalabomy collected three points, a team-high eight rebounds, and two blocked shots, and Butash added two points and two assists.
With the two wins, the Blazers finished the regular season with an 8-12 record.