Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton boys’ basketball team fell victim to perhaps the fastest team in all of the Sunflower League Friday night, as the Shawnee Mission Northwest Cougars downed the Blazers 78-38 at SMNW. However, it wasn’t just Northwest’s speed that devastated the Blazers, it was their hot shooting as well.
“Athletically,” said GEHS head coach Zach White of the Cougars after the game,” they’re unreal. They’re an incredibly athletic team; they’re very connected and they play very well together. They definitely have their team identity, and they play to their strengths. And when they shoot the ball like they shot the ball tonight, there are not going to be very many teams that are going to beat them. That’s a top 8 team in the state.”
The game started with the Cougars earning the first basket of the first quarter, but Gardner-Edgerton briefly took the lead when sophomore shooting guard Cooper Williams drilled a left corner three-pointer off an assist from sophomore point guard Randy Singleton to make the score 3-2 Trailblazers. However, the Cougars scored the next 5 points, before Blazer junior post Mitch Mauk pulled his team within 2 at 7-5 when he sank a hanging banked jumper. Unfortunately for GEHS, Northwest went on a 10-0 run to make the score 19-7. Still, Mauk canned the last basket of the quarter – a layup from the right side off a dish from sophomore post Colton Hawkinson that made the score 19-9 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Gardner-Edgerton were without the services of starting junior point guard Malaki Taylor and senior post David Arreola for the game, and SMNW began to make the Trailblazers really feel their absence in the 2nd quarter. The Cougars scored the first basket of the 2nd frame, but – once again – Williams answered with a three from the right side to make the score 21-12 Cougars. However, a Northwest onslaught then followed. The Cougars went on a 9-0 run, before GEHS freshman guard Bravin Powell-Brown ended the surge with a pair of free throws that made the score 30-14. SMNW, powered by senior point guard Damare Smith (who scored a game-high 22 points) then went on a 15-1 run that proved to be the crucial stretch of the game. Gardner-Edgerton ended the half on a 5-2 run that started with a Hawkinson dunk and then was punctuated by another Williams’ trey – this one from the left side off a feed from Mauk, making the score 47-20 Northwest at the half.
The Cougars extended their lead to 32 points by the end of the 3rd quarter and would eventually win 78-38, but not before Powell-Brown scored 6 of the Blazers’ 8 points in the 4th quarter.
For the game, Mauk led the Blazers in scoring with 12 points to go with his 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Williams added 11 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists, while Powell-Brown tallied 8 points and 4 rebounds. Hawkinson collected 6 points and 2 boards, while Singleton had 2 points, a team-high 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.