Leavenworth hoops teams split with Olathe Northwest

This was just an odd game.

The Leavenworth girls, coming off off a dramatic 2-point loss Friday at Class 6A no. 1 team Olathe South, returned home Tuesday for a date with a plucky and feisty Olathe Northwest Ravens' squad.

This season, the Pioneers established themselves as the best team in 5A with a strangling defense and an offense that knows when to score at key points.

Against the Ravens, the LVHS offense came to life the defense wasn't

as sharp and the Pioneers would find a way to win in a different fashion, 56-42, to move to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in Sunflower League play.

Aarika Lister scored 19 points, Cierra Robinson added 11 points and Zoie Hayward tallied nine points.

“I don’t want to be relying on (the offense carrying the team), but it’s good that we came out and attacked well and that we came out aggressive on offense,” LVHS head coach Jordan Mellott said. “Our defense, we didn’t do a good job closing out - top foot to top foot - and they were able to drive on us. Knowing how well they shoot, got us thinking we had to get out on them, but our rotation was pretty bad. But that’s a good offensive team - they put up points.

“When you look at the score (Northwest was held down), but they also missed some shots that they normally would hit.”

The Pioneers are not known for large scoring outputs, but the first quarter saw the girls explode out of the gate with 19 points in the first six minutes before settling for a 20-11 lead eight minutes into the game.

One thing that foretold of a possible, competitive match up came after LVHS built an early 13-point lead, but the Ravens continued to battle.

But every time the Northwest club challenged Leavenworth's supremacy, the Pioneers reeducated them on who the best team in Class 5A is.

Leavenworth ended a highly entertaining first half on a 7-2 run to lead 34-21 at the break.

“We had good ball movement, a lot of driving and that opens up things for us,” Lister said. “It’s pretty fun (scoring points).”

After halftime the teams came out exchanging shots and the normally dominant Pioneer defense was put on its heels at times by a Ravens' squad that had a number of capable of offensive threats.

“They had some shooters and drove a lot on us,” Lister said. “Just like us driving on them and opening things up for us, them driving did the same for them and they got some good shots.

“It’s not different than what we are used to, because we practice that (against themselves).”

Still, LVHS remained on par offensively and held a 47-34 edge with a quarter to go.

The fourth quarter wasn't up to the normal Pioneer standard of play and Mellott could be seen voicing his displeasure with some runs of play, but his girls would have enough to send the Ravens packing on the down side of this contest.

“We definitely allowed them to get too many layups,” Mellott said. “Teams don’t usually get that many against us. That will probably be our biggest concern and we gave up some boards. We have played bigger teams and tonight we gave up too many offensive rebounds.”

Boys fall flat 

It's been a year of progress for the Leavenworth boys' basketball team, but in some aspects, not enough.

They have won more games already compared to last season and have shown more balance on both sides of floor, but in a heavyweight league like the Sunflower, progress sometimes needs to come in leaps and bounds and not baby steps.

Olathe Northwest's visit to Kansas' first city was proof of that as the Ravens' cool and confident approach ensured them an easy 67-43 win to bump LVHS to 4-10 overall and 1-5 in Sunflower League play.

Zach Thiel scored 12 points while Jordan Berry and DeJuan Sweet both scored nine points for the Pioneers.

“Every team we play from here on out is a Sunflower League team,”LVHS head boys’ coach Larry Hogan said. “They came in here at 10-3 and took it to us in every aspect of the game. There are teams coming up that we can possibly get, so we have to bring our ‘A’ game on those nights. We are showing periods of progress, we just got really pounded inside on the glass and we left shooters open and they knocked them down.

“We have to compete better on the boards and physically. Defensively, we can try mixing it up a little bit, but when you get down like that, they can hold the ball out and dictate to you.”

LVHS fell behind quickly to the sweet shooting, even flow offense of the Ravens.

It wasn't for a lack of trying, but the Pioneers found themselves down 16-8 after the first quarter and 25-10 three minutes later.

The Ravens would not relent and continued to attack the rim and ripple the net from deep as they built a 36-18 halftime lead.

The Ravens gripped tightly to that lead and would not let the Pioneers really get into any rhythm as the Northwest lead hovered around the 20-point variety.

Northwest led 55-35 after the third quarter and spent the last eight minutes of the game ensuring victory and a successful trip to Leavenworth.