LHS girls basketball holds off Blue Valley Northwest comeback for 54-47 win

Lawrence High girls basketball huddles before tip-off. LHS defeated Blue Valley Northwest 54-47 on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Overland Park — Midway through the third quarter, Lawrence High senior guard Sophie DeWitt set a trap at midcourt, grabbed the ball and raced to the other end for a fast-break layup.

“She is one of the best defenders in the Sunflower League and she has been for a couple years now,” LHS coach Jeff Dickson said. “Sophie was everywhere. She’s a highly-intense athlete who plays her tail off.”

Thanks to relentless defensive pressure like that in the second half, Lawrence High girls basketball defeated Blue Valley Northwest 54-47 Tuesday.

“That’s a team (in BV Northwest) with four senior starters,” Dickson said. “For us to come out on the road after what happened last Friday and be able to lead for most of the game and then survive a pretty tough comeback at the end, I couldn’t be prouder.”

However, the Lions did not start off on the right foot in the first quarter, as LHS couldn’t find much of a rhythm on either end of the court. The Lions turned the ball over five times, leading to transition opportunities for the Huskies.

And the Huskies managed to take advantage, with a pair of 3-pointers from senior guard Emily Farthing and another 3-pointer from sophomore guard Brynn Grosdidier. Three-point shooting was a theme for BV Northwest in the first half, as the Huskies shot 4 of 12 from beyond the arc.

With his team trailing 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, Dickson made a key defensive change. Dickson had his team switch to a 2-3 zone, which paid dividends for the Lions coming out of the break.

Dickson said this was due to matchup problems, especially with Grosdidier finding space on the outside when the Huskies went small.

“So we were trying to limit that a little bit and I felt it helped a bit, at least for that run,” Dickson said. “But as the game went on they started to figure it out and we tried to mix it up.”

To start the second quarter, LHS went on a 9-2 run, with junior forward Ozi Ajekwu immediately getting a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup. Freshman guard Amaya Marshall and sophomore Layla Harjo also helped from outside with a pair of 3-pointers.

The Lions turned the ball over five times once again in the second quarter, but their defense evened things out with five takeaways of their own. The Lions were able to find offensive rhythm as LHS outscored BV Northwest 15-9 in the second quarter to take a 26-22 halftime lead.

Despite a turnover on the opening possession, LHS held onto that momentum coming out of halftime. The Lions jumped out to a 30-22 lead after layups from DeWitt and Ajekwu, forcing a BV Northwest timeout.

Ajekwu — who led LHS in scoring with 19 points — is a player that Dickson believes can be “next level special.” She’s finally getting playing time in her junior year after sitting behind her sister Chisom Ajekwu, who currently plays at KU.

“I think she is amazing and she’s so underrated,” Dickson said. “As she goes, we’re going to go. If she can get to the level I think she can get to, we’re going to be real tough to deal with.”

The Huskies took more than four minutes to score in the second half with freshman guard Claire Suchma ending the drought with a 3-pointer from the corner. Suchma scored 5 points in the quarter.

LHS started to full-court press led by DeWitt, who forced a turnover — which turned into a fast break layup to stretch the lead back to double-digits — and a jump ball. At the end of the third quarter, LHS held onto a 39-32 lead, as Grosdidier added a 3-pointer and later a layup at the buzzer.

The defensive intensity continued from LHS as the Lions forced jump ball after jump ball.

“It was patchwork defense at best,” Dickson said. “I thought we played a lot better defense early and then they got going a little bit. Thankfully for us we had enough runs in the second half to hold on.”

What kept BV Northwest in the game, though, was the fact that LHS was in the double bonus for the last three minutes of regulation. Add a couple turnovers from LHS and BV Northwest cut the lead to 50-41 with just over a minute to play.

But even with six turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Lions managed to withstand the late-game pressure and hold on for the victory.

Coming off the Lions’ 62-33 season-opening loss to Topeka High this past Friday, Dickson said he’s seen plenty of growth in the short turnaround.

“I think we got better tonight,” Dickson said. “We were able to make mistakes, which as coaches we’re able to hammer them about those. I feel like the kids did a better job of dealing with adversity and pushing through it, and we were fortunate to come out with the win.”

LHS next takes on Harmon at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at home.

Lawrence High (54)

Amaya Marshall 4-7 0-1 10, Ella Stewart 1-6 2-3 4, Sophie DeWitt 5-12 5-9 15, Layla Harjo 1-5 0-0 3, Ozi Ajekwu 9-14 1-2 19, Serenity Keo 0-4 0-0 0, Paiden Bell 1-3 1-4 3, Hailey Ramirez 0-1 0-0 0. Kayla Galbreath 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 9-19 54.

Blue Valley Northwest (47)

Hayley Numrich 2-7 3-3 7, Veronica Spillman 0-1 0-2 0, Grace Coble 1-3 4-6 6, Megan Edwards 2-8 2-2 6, Claire Schuma 1-4 2-2 5, Shayla Edwards 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Farthing 3-6 0-0 9, Brynn Grosdidier 4-9 2-2 12, Camryn Threinen 0-2 2-4 2.

Lawrence High 11 15 13 15 — 54

Blue Valley Northwest 13 9 10 15 — 47

3-point field goals: Lawrence High 3-11 (Marshall, Harjo); Blue Valley Northwest 6-22 (Schuma, Farthing, Grosdidier). Turnovers: Lawrence High 19, Blue Valley Northwest 16.


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