Sports Weekly Wrap-Up: Jan. 17

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The week ended well for the varsity basketball teams, defeating bitter rival SM East at home on Thursday and Friday night. These were two very important wins for West, whose fans sported pink shirts for breast cancer awareness (also worn by the girls’ team).

Due to inclement weather Monday, the girls’ team only played one game this week, in which they pulverized East by a 25-point margin. Although the score was close early, the height advantage and free throw ability of the Vikings was just unmatchable for the Lancers. Senior Lizzy Jeronimus led the way with a reputable 29 points, one of many career games she has posted at West. Her powerful inside game and ability to get to the basket made her undefendable by the much smaller Lancer defense.

East battled back from a 27-15 deficit at halftime to pull within seven at 29-22, but that is the closest they would come. The three-point shooting effort for the Vikings was also important in their seventh-straight victory to start the season. Senior Kaitlin Beeman hit two threes and senior Whitney Knightly hit one, while also posting seven points.

The boys’ basketball team got off to a slow start this week, beginning with a 17-point loss at home to Olathe East. Poor rebounding and mediocre shooting proved costly for the Vikings, who trailed by 21 at halftime. Matt Smith had a team-high 14 points, including three 3-pointers. The Hawks were unstoppable from beyond the arc, hitting 12 threes in the game, a very eminent statistic.

Coach Mike Brinsko’s Vikings hoped to bounce back into league contention on Friday night, when they hosted the Lancers in front of one of the biggest home crowds of the season. They didn’t just reverse the score from their first matchup against the Lancers (of which they lost 50-44), but won the decisive game by double-digits, 44-32.The game started out very slow due to poor shooting by both sides and good defensive pressure. But the Vikings turned things up in the second quarter, with a shift of momentum coming before halftime when senior Derrian Henderson scored back-to-back baskets, one of which was a transition dunk, to give West a 15-9 lead. Henderson went on to finish the game with 10 points.

East fought back in the second half, thanks to a series of three-pointers. The third quarter also proved costly for the Lancers, as a couple turnovers and a shot by senior Preston Felgate with 3.1 seconds left (which was discussed by the referees and ruled a 2-pointer) put the Vikings up by three. A few calls that went the Vikings’ way down the stretch were important, but the game was very physical and gritty overall, especially in the second half. Felgate finished the game with a team-high 11 points.

A few defensive breakdowns and physical play by the Lancers cost them the chance of coming back after trailing for much of the fourth quarter. This was one of the first times in the entire game that offense prevailed for either side, as the Vikings took advantage and were able to make a couple layups. East missed a cluster of close shots and West dominated the boards, with most of the rebounds coming from junior Mitch Witter and Henderson. West hit their free throws down the stretch, which sealed the victory for the Vikings, their fourth of the season.

Overall, the game can be described as mainly a “defensive stronghold”, because of the tough physical play and excess turnovers that resulted. The crowd was also a major factor in the boys’ victory Friday night and good fan support throughout the season has been decisive in many games, including both the boys’ and girls’ victories last weekend at SM Northwest.

West boys (4-4) host the Viking Classic next week in the main gym, where they will play Tuesday, Thursday, and possibly Saturday. The girls (7-0) are also playing in a tourney, but at SM South. Details on the game times and matchups are to be determined, but more information will be announced soon.