No rest in Cougars’ forecast: SMNW girls 5-1 entering winter break
Topeka Though their goal of a perfect 6-0 start was dashed in a nailbiter in Topeka over the weekend, the Shawnee Mission Northwest girls basketball team’s final two games before winter break reaffirmed the team of its mettle.
After dropping a 50-43 game Saturday at Washburn Rural, the No. 5-ranked team in Class 6A, the Cougars (5-1) rebounded with a 38-34 victory against SM South on Monday.
SM Northwest won’t return to play until a Jan. 3 rematch of their season-opening win at SM West. Until then, join us in recapping the Cougars’ final two games of December.
Rural hands Cougars first loss
SM Northwest went bucket-for-bucket most of Saturday’s game at Washburn Rural and played to win.
The Cougars were defensively aggressive and held the Junior Blues to just 10 field goals but eventually still fell, 50-43, to the fifth-ranked team in Class 6A.
“We shut down their offense but put them on the free throw line way too many times,“ SM Northwest coach Jeff Dickson said following the loss.
The game was tied with 4:27 left, but a series of subsequent fouls put the Junior Blues at the line and the lead out of reach as five Cougars found themselves in foul trouble in the last two minutes of the game. McKayla Ross, Arielle Jackson, Brenni Rose and Tatum Graves eventually fouled out during the last minute.
“We need to do a better job of playing defense with our feet and not with our hands,” Dickson said. “We would get a stop and bail them out with a foul.”
Senior Anna King led the Cougars with a double-double, scoring 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Anna King had a great game, and they had no answer for her,” Dickson said of King’s performance.
Ross contributed eight points and Jackson six. Ross never hesitated to drive into the lane and draw a foul, scoring six of her eight points at the free throw line. The game was tied 9-9 in the first quarter, but the Cougars took the lead following a three-pointer from senior Kristina Purinton, who then turned around and stripped the ball at the other end to prevent a lay-up.
SM Northwest got good looks at the basket during the first half, including three shots behind the arc. Purinton, who scored all six of her points from behind the arc, ended the half with a three-pointer to make the score 25-22 in favor of the Junior Blues. The Cougars put a stop on the Junior Blues offense to start the second half, holding it to only six points for the third quarter.
Forced steals and a couple of big plays from Jackson kept the game close late into the fourth quarter, with the Cougars down only two points with less than three minutes left.
The Cougars suffered at the free throw line during the second half, due in part to some vocal fans, and weren’t able to make up the lack of points with field goals. Then three players fouled out, including Tatum on a technical, and the Junior Blues were consistent enough at the line to extend the lead to seven with six seconds left on the clock.
“Our kids fought very hard and handled a very hostile environment with a lot of class,” Dickson said.
“We went toe-to-toe … and really found out a lot of good things about ourselves. And we know we are as good as any team in the state.”
Cougars down Raiders
King scored 12 points and Ross added nine to lead the Cougars to a 38-34 victory against SM South on Monday.
The Cougars recovered from a 17-12 halftime deficit to stay perfect in league play. SM Northwest outscored the Raiders, 13-2, in the third quarter and held on in a tighter final frame.
Stephen Montemayor contributed to this story.