De Soto boys hoops upends BVSW, advances to Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic title game
De Soto The De Soto boys basketball team advanced to the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic championship game for the second straight year after Thursday's 58-51 win over Blue Valley Southwest.
The Wildcats spread the wealth offensively with Exavier Jackson (17 points), Brannon Bell (15) and Levi Hansen (13) all scoring in double figures, but the De Soto senior guards weren't satisfied after the game.
De Soto (2-1) came into its home tournament with the expectation of winning it after taking second last year to Piper, and the Wildcats are champing at the bit to take the court for Saturday's championship game against Gardner-Edgerton.
"We've got to come back for redemption and we'll definitely try to get that win," Jackson said.
Jackson was in attack mode throughout the game, as he either got to the basket for layups, got fouled or dished it out to the likes of Hansen, Bell and senior Jared Baruth (eight points) for an open jump shot.
"That's my role on the team is to drive and kick and then get the ball out and let other teammates score besides me," Jackson said.
While Baruth had a rare off-shooting night and Hansen battled foul trouble after seven quick points in the first quarter, Bell had the hot hand from the perimeter. The senior guard drilled four of his seven shots from long range.
"I was feeling it," Bell said. "It felt good coming off my hand."
Bell has enjoyed being a part of the Wildcats' balanced offensive attack on the perimeter, and said that he, Baruth, Hansen and Jackson feel an added sense of responsibility with junior forward Grant Noll sidelined with a hand injury.
"We kind of have a mix of everything. We've got X who can slice and dice and get to the rim and then we got us three who can shoot and Jared can dribble jumper, too," Bell said. "We've got a little bit of everything. And with Grant Noll being out, he's our inside threat. If we have him back, we have everything."
De Soto coach Matt Rice is hopeful that Noll will be able to return to action after winter break, but he's been pleased with how the Wildcats have played since their big man has been out.
"It's been great how they've responded — not just since Grant's been out, but really from the beginning of practice. They (the seniors) have felt like this is their team, and they are doing everything that they can to bring guys along with them to make us good, to make us tough to beat," Rice said. "That's all they really want. They've been practicing like it, they've been playing like it and they've been showing the kind of leadership that it takes for us to have a chance to be good."
The Timberwolves' only leads came in the second quarter at 16-15 and 19-18. The Wildcats were able to close the half on a 10-4 run, and kept the Timberwolves at arm's length the rest of the way.
"When we move it and when we share it, we get to be pretty tough to guard," Rice said. "When we're smart with the basketball and we get good shots, we've got guys that will knock them down so we want to be balanced and make the other team guard all five."
Although Jackson, Bell, Hansen and Baruth did a bulk of the damage, the Wildcats still tried to utilize their post players in some key spots. Junior Connor Flynn hit two free throws late in the second quarter, and freshman Nate Barnhart hit a hook shot in the closing second of the third. Junior Tyler Barkemeyer and sophomore Luke Millman also grabbed five and three rebounds, respectively.
"It's been a pleasant surprise to see the different ways we've been able to score. Even our young kids have gone in there and made an impact with offensive rebounds," Rice said. "We went to Nate Barnhart, who hit that little baby hook. It's been really nice to have that kind of versatility of kids who can put the ball on the floor and shoot. It's been nice."
The Wildcats will meet the team they defeated in the semifinals of last year's Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic in the championship game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, as they'll take on Gardner-Edgerton. De Soto edged Gardner-Edgerton, 60-57, last year, so Rice said there certainly won't be a lack of motivation for either team. The Trailblazers defeated Mill Valley, 51-29, in the other semifinal.
"Playing in championship in tournaments is fun no matter when the tournament or where the tournament is, but to be able to do it at home is always a really good feeling. I know the guys are pretty excited to get to go after it again," Rice said. "Gardner will be ready. Every time I see coach (Jeff) Langrehr, he makes sure and mentions that we beat him last year. I know that they're looking forward to playing us again also, so it should be a battle. It should be a lot of fun."
DE SOTO (58)
Coby Morton 0-0 0-0 0, Joseph Schnieders 0-0 0-0 0, Levi Hansen 3-6 6-8 13, Jared Baruth 2-10 4-4 8, Brannon Bell 5-10 1-3 15, Connor Flynn 0-0 2-2 2, Exavier Jackson 5-10 7-10 17, Tyler Barkemeyer 0-2 0-0 0, Nate Barnhart 1-2 0-0 2, Luke Millman 0-0 1-4 1. Totals 16-40 21-31 58.
BLUE VALLEY SOUTHWEST (51)
Nick Parker 3-7 1-2 9, Nik Tanner 3-5 2-4 8, Hayden Hitchcock 2-7 3-4 7, Austin Murrow 2-6 1-4 5, Ben Harms 0-2 0-0 0, Tommy Zimmerman 0-2 0-0 0, Max Defever 3-5 1-2 7, Christopher Miller 5-8 4-6 15. Totals 18-42 12-22 51.
DHS 15 13 12 18 — 58
BVSW 11 12 11 17 — 51
3-point goals: DHS 5-15 (Bell 4, Hansen); BVSW 3-10 (Parker 2, Miller). Fouled out: Defever, BVSW. Turnovers: DHS 7, BVSW 10.