Crosstown clash: Bishop Seabury, Veritas both ready for rematch of rivalry contest
photo by: Carter Gaskins
There is something at stake for both programs when Bishop Seabury’s boys basketball team welcomes Veritas for a rivalry rematch Tuesday night at BSA.
Veritas earned a 71-46 home win against Bishop Seabury on Jan. 6 during the first meeting between these two teams. So a win on Tuesday would give the Eagles (8-6) their first-ever season sweep over the Seahawks, as the two city private schools have faced each other twice per season in each of the last five years.
“They’ve swept us a couple times, but we’ve never swept them,” Veritas head coach Carl Huslig said. “This senior group seems to all know each other. Just for around town talk, to say we won both games would be pretty cool. It means a lot to our kids.”
Bishop Seabury, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win of the season. The Seahawks, who made it to the Class 2A semifinals a season ago before the state basketball tournament was canceled, have started off 0-8 to begin the 2020-21 campaign.
But a win against a crosstown foe could be the very thing that helps the Seahawks turn things around.
“It’s a rival school. It’s Duke vs. North Carolina,” said first-year head coach Jamelle Blunt said. “I think it would mean the world to those kids to get their first win of the season against people that they see almost everyday.”
Blunt, who was an assistant for seven seasons at Bishop Seabury, took over the program in the offseason after Jonathan Raney left to join the Washburn University staff. Blunt has had to deal with replacing multiple talented playmakers from last year’s team, which ranked No. 1 in Class 2A for much of the year.
Tuesday’s game against Veritas will be Bishop Seabury’s first game without another key from this year’s squad. Senior guard Stavian Jones, who poured in 40 points in Friday’s loss to Kansas City East Christian Academy, has “left the team” according to Blunt.
“He decided to make a change and go somewhere else,” Blunt said. “I wish him the best at that.”
Blunt believes this is an opportunity for other players to step up in Jones’ absence, however.
Junior Sam Hertzog is one of Bishop Seabury’s better scorers. He’s a strong shooter and solid passer, and he can also finish at the rim with ease. Sophomore Enzo Karam is the team’s point guard, which means he has a knack for taking care of the rock and the offense really starts with his services.
Sophomore Truman Hill has the best overall game of the three. He provides the defense, rebounding and has the ability to knock down open shots. All three players were key members on the junior varsity squad under Blunt last season, so he knows they have the potential to carry the varsity team.
“Those three are the heart and soul of our team and they need to step up in a big way,” Blunt said.
Veritas, meanwhile, has more of a veteran roster that leans on the combination of its do-everything guard Will Rau and a prolific post presence.
Rau, a senior, is leading the team in scoring with an average of 20.1 points per game. He’s also filling up the stat sheet on a nightly basis with his average of 8.4 rebounds, 4.8 steals and 4.6 assists per game.
The Eagles’ offense runs through Rau, who also does a good job of finding his teammates for efficient shots. Senior Will Bartkoski is averaging 15.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, while senior Brennan Clements is posting an average of 10.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
“We play our best when Will Rau is driving to the basket and our bigs are active inside,” Huslig said. “We know what we get from Will, it’s been consistent almost every game this year. We play better when our big guys play better. We have to go inside-out for us to be effective.”
The Eagles have done a better job of that of late, putting an emphasis on beating opponents off the dribble-drive. It is a philosophy that was implemented by the team last week, and has already led to promising results.
Veritas still has work to do on the defensive end, particularly while guarding the 3-point line. The Eagles start five players who are 6-foot-4 or taller, so they aren’t as quick at getting out on opposing guards. It is why Veritas has recently attempted a matchup zone defense.
“We have a terrible time defending teams that can shoot the 3,” Huslig said. “From a talent level, I think we should be probably 11-3 or 10-4. But we’ve run up against a couple very hot teams.”
Still, Huslig believes the Eagles are headed in the right direction. Veritas’ goal is to hit its stride in late February, when the team is competing in the KCAA state tournament. So starting off the month with a rivalry win could help get the Eagles on track for that timeline.
“We try to set a new year goal of becoming a very good team in January and then a great team in February,” Huslig said.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bishop Seabury. The game will be broadcast on Midco Sports Network.
Last five years of Seabury-Veritas rivalry
Jan. 8, 2021: Veritas 71, Bishop Seabury 46
Feb. 8, 2020: Bishop Seabury 79, Veritas 42
Jan. 17, 2020: Bishop Seabury 86, Veritas 38
Feb. 8, 2019: Bishop Seabury 65, Veritas 63 (OT)
Jan. 11, 2019: Bishop Seabury 51, Veritas 50
Feb. 9, 2018: Bishop Seabury 48, Veritas 44
Jan. 5, 2018: Veritas 55, Bishop Seabury 62
Feb. 10, 2017: Bishop Seabury 77, Veritas 52
Jan. 6, 2017: Bishop Seabury 70, Veritas 45