The boys varsity basketball game isn’t scheduled until 7 p.m., but that won’t stop fans from coming to watch the junior varsity boys at Blue Valley North on Tuesday night.
The Mustangs will play host to cross-town rival Blue Valley Northwest and every time these two teams square off the gym is filled to capacity.
Class 6A Boys Rankings
1. Blue Valley Northwest
2. Blue Valley North
3. Wichita Southeast
5. Shawnee Mission South
6. Blue Valley
8. Wichita East
10. Olathe Northwest
“We don’t have to give that much motivation to the players because you can say any speech you want, but it comes down to two teams who are well respected in the state, who have pretty solid programs and fan bases, who enjoy watching them play and I think it brings the best out of both teams,” Blue Valley coach Ryan Phifer said. “It’s really exciting every time.”
The Huskies and Mustangs are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Class 6A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, but they don’t matter at this point and senior Colby Bullock knows it.
They care more about sub-state rankings.
“We all know it, but it’s not in the back our minds; it’s not what we’re playing for,” Bullock said of the No. 1 ranking. “The rankings don’t really matter that much. Rankings at the end of the season matter to us, but it’s still the biggest game of the season so far.”
The Mustangs had their Hy-Vee Shootout game against Park Hill on Saturday cancelled because of weather, and Phifer said that game would have been a good measuring stick for tonight. Park Hill has a trio of guards, who are as athletic as any group BV North will see all year and Phifer is hoping to have that game rescheduled, but there aren’t any updates yet.
The game would have been a nice warm-up for BV Northwest’s Darien Jackson, who will be guarded by Keilon Hunter.
However, Phifer can’t worry solely about Jackson, because he knows BV Northwest has more than beat the Mustangs.
“He’s going to get his buckets we know that,” Hunter said. “It’s just limiting him in transition. I played with him over the summer, so I know most of what he does.”
The Huskies are fantastic in transition and Phifer said that’s where they win their games. He knows his team will make turnovers, he just wants them to not be of the live-ball variety. He added the Mustangs need to be able to set their defense up.
“They get a lot of opportunities off their press and off steals and then they’re really good at converting,” Phifer said. “We have to make sure we try and stop any easy baskets for them.”
Bullock said because of the history, they know all of BV Northwest’s plays and vice versa.
The turnaround time between the second matchup is quite quick as they play again on Jan. 13, but that’s when school is back in session. Bullock is hoping because finals are over and it’s the first day of winter break that it has more of a Friday night game feel.
Regardless, it should be a great game, featuring two of the best teams in the state from the best league in the state.
“The way that this league is with (Bishop) Miege, St. James, Blue Valley High and (St. Thomas) Aquinas, every game in our league is a battle, so it doesn’t really matter rankings because you know you’re getting great opponents,” Phifer said. “For us, it’s really going to be a gauge of where we’re at. They have all five of their starters back; they have more experience than we do. We have three guys with starting experience back and we’re still trying to break in some guys, who are three games into their varsity careers.”