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West sweeps Highland Park, Bloomquist touched by Scots' tribute

DSC 7774Topeka West's Zander Putthoff lines up one of several 3 pointers against Highland Park. (Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN)

 By ANDREW GILL

TopSports.news

Every once in a while, we all need a reminder that some things are bigger than sports.

Before falling to Centennial League-champion Topeka West 86-64 Tuesday night at West, the Highland Park boys basketball team gave everyone in attendance that reminder.

At the conclusion of West’s Senior Night festivities, the boys took the floor to warmup, but the Scots weren’t sporting their typical pregame garb.

Instead, they wore pink T-shirts with the words ‘We Support Coach Bloom,' in honor of the Chargers’ head coach, Rick Bloomquist, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma.

It was a small gesture, but one that made a huge impact and caught Bloomquist by surprise.

“I come walking out here and thought, ‘What the hell are they wearing pink shirts for?’ Then it hit me.” Bloomquist said. “It was the most sincere form of respect anyone had ever given me.”

Bloomquist's Chargers’ (17-2 overall, 14-1 in the league) then went out and turned in an outstanding performance in their third bout with the Centennial League runners-up.

“It was a team effort. Finding the open man, sharing the ball… that’s the way you want a game to be played. That’s the way the game of basketball is supposed to be played,” Bloomquist said.

West gave up 5 offensive rebounds and 2 points on the Scots’ opening possession, but after that the Chargers were off to the races.

Junior Charger Zander Putthoff answered by draining back-to-back 3-pointers and forcing Highland Park head coach, Mchael Williams, a former West assistant, to call a time out. West led the rest of the way.

Putthoff finished with the game high 23 points, shooting 8 for 13 from the field with 7 3s. Senior teammates Marque Wilkerson and Trevion Alexander followed close behind, scoring 21 and 20 points respectively as West won its 11th straight game.

Junior Juan’Tario Roberts led the offensive effort for Highland Park (12-6, 11-4), putting up 17 points as the Scots saw their 9-game win streak come to an end.

Park simply had no answer for West’s phenomenal 3-point shooting. Bloomquist’s squad made 12 on the night, with an overall 3-point percentage of 57.

“As well as they’re coached, as good as Mike (Williams) is – to have the night we did is obviously very special,” Bloomquist said, adding “We played well on both ends of the floor. It was just our night.”

But according to Bloomquist, no victory could ever mean more than Williams’ pregame gesture.

“That’s something I’ll never forget the rest of my life. Ever,” Bloomquist said.

TOPEKA WEST GIRLS 55, HIGHLAND PARK 16

The Lady Chargers (3-15, 2-13) also ended the regular season with a win, beating Highland Park (0-15, 0-14) for the second time this season.

West got off to a quick start, ending the first quarter up 15-4, and the Chargers’ aggressive full-court press helped them force 12 first-half turnovers and take a 27-12 lead into halftime.

West’s underclassman came through, with freshman Saniya Triplett and sophomore Mia Anthony tying for the game high with 10 points each. Freshman Zoe Clark added 8 points.

Senior Isabella Carter and junior Aisya Taylor accounted for all 16 of the Scots’ points, scoring 8 apiece.

TOPEKA WEST BOYS 86, HIGHLAND PARK 64

Topeka West 16 25 20 25 -- 86

Highland Park 10 16 15 20 -- 64

Topeka West (12-6, 11-4) -- Wilkerson 9 2-5 21, Brooks 2 3-6 7, Austin 3 1-3 9, T. Alexander 8 2-3 20, Putthoff 8 0-0 23, Lowery 1 0-0 2, Lira 2 0-0 4. Totals: 21 8-18 86

Highland Park (17-2, 14-1) --: Daniels 4 4-6 13, Peppers 2 0-0 5, Powell 5 1-5 11, Simms 1 0-0 2, Roberts 4 6-7 17, Richardson 4 0-0 12, Kingcannon 1 0-0 2, Davis 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 11-20 64

3-point goals -- Topeka West 12 (Putthoff 7, Alexander 2, Austin 2, Wilkerson), Highland Park 9 (Richardson 4, Roberts 3, Peppers, #0). Total Fouls -- Topeka West 13, Highland Park 15. Fouled out -- none.

TOPEKA WEST GIRLS 55, HIGHLAND PARK 16

Topeka West 15 12 17 11 -- 55

Highland Park 4 8 2 2 -- 16

Topeka West (3-15, 2-13) -- Anthony 4 0-0 10, N. Triplett 1 3-4 5, #5 2 0-0 4, Davis 1 0-0 3, Sanchez 2 1-2 6, Clark 3 1-2 8, Ford 3 0-0 6, S. Triplett 4 0-0 10, Mays 1 0-0 3. Totals: 21 5-8 55

Highland Park (0-15, 0-14) -- Carter 2 4-8 8, Taylor 3 2-2 8. Totals: 5 6-10 16

3-point goals -- Topeka West 8 (S. Triplett 2, Anthony 2, Davis, Sanchez, Clark, Mays), Highland Park 0. Total Fouls -- Topeka West 15, Highland Park 9. Fouled out -- none.