By KYLE MANTHE
Special to TopSports.news
After a first quarter to forget Washburn Rural (9-3) showcased its full potential, outscoring Olathe East (4-7) 42-15 in the middle quarters on its way to a 59-34 non-league home win Tuesday night.
“Olathe East did a good job of guarding us and pressing a little bit and we played on our heels a little bit and were too passive (early) and I thought we did a better job in the second half of attacking and being aggressive,” said Washburn Rural coach Alex Hutchins.
The Junior Blues are as healthy as they have been all season after getting key players like senior Wyatt Conklin back during the teams' third-place finish at the Bill Hanson Memorial Tournament. A full roster has led to wins in three of the last four games and some optimism heading into the final month of the regular season.
“I still definitely think there’s things we need to learn and clean up, but I do think that over the past couple of weeks we have definitely learned some things about ourselves and taken a step or two in the right direction,” Hutchins said. “Wyatt is starting to settle in a bit, I thought tonight was the best he’s looked so far, and I know he’s still got another step he can take.”
Washburn Rural’s offensive surge in the middle 16 minutes came after the Junior Blues were held to just six points in the first quarter of play. The Hawks led by as many as six early on and were in front 8-6 after eight minutes.
“I thought our defense was better,” Hutchins said. “Over the weekend in Pittsburg, we didn’t think we did a great job of playing smart defense and defending as a team and I think that tonight we took a step in the right direction on that front.”
Back-to-back baskets by sophomore Amare Jones and senior Jack Bachelor kicked off the second quarter and gave the Junior Blues their first lead of the game and they wouldn’t look back. Olathe East made the game 13-12 but the Junior Blues finished the half on an 11-2 run to lead 25-14 at the break.
Offense came early and often for Washburn Rural in the third quarter, beginning with back-to-back made 3-pointers by Jones and Conklin. The Junior Blues drained four triples in the quarter on their way to 23 points. A 15-4 run in the middle of the period grew the lead to a game-high 25 points.
Both teams emptied the benches for the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points a piece and the game would end with the same 25-point deficit in favor of Washburn Rural.
Bachelor led the Junior Blues with 14 points, all in the first three quarters. Sophomore Kaden Ballard had 11 with three made 3-pointers off the bench and Conklin added 10. Rural had an efficient night as a team, shooting nearly 50 percent with nine players entering the scoring column.
“Every guy that we play we trust to make contributions on both ends and that’s why they are out there, so it's good to see them all kind of settling in but I'm sure we've still got a lot to learn,” Hutchins said.
Junior Micah Deaver led Olathe East with 12 points, while two others finished with seven for the Hawks.
Washburn Rural is off the rest of the week and will take on Blue Valley next Tuesday, Jan. 31, on the road.
WASHBURN RURAL BOYS 59, OLATHE EAST 34
Washburn Rural 6 19 23 11 -- 59
Olathe East 8 6 9 11 -- 34
Washburn Rural (9-4) – Jones 2-6 3-4 8, Leonard 0-1 0-0 0, Ballard 4-6 0-0 11, Morris 0-2 0-0 0, Hirschi 0-2 1-2 1, Ja. Heim 1-1 0-0 2, Bachelor 4-9 4-4 14, Shriver 2-2 0-1 4, Durst 2-3 2-2 6, Conklin 4-7 0-0 10, JC Heim 1-3 1-1 3, Bettis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-43 11-14 59
Olathe East (4-7) – Marshall 0-4 0-0 0, Blake 2-7 1-2 7, Horsch 0-4 0-0 0, Deaver 4-9 2-2 12, Schmitt 0-0 0-0 0, Gooding 0-1 0-0 0, Myers 0-1 0-0 0, Jenkins 3-5 1-4 7, Ippolito 1-2 0-1 2, Grimes 1-2 0-0 2, Purdy 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 11-39 4-9 34.
3-point goals – Washburn Rural 8 (Ballard 3, Bachelor 2, Conklin 2, Jones 1), Olathe East 4 (Deaver 2, Blake 2). Total fouls – Washburn Rural 10, Olathe East 16. Technical fouls – None. Fouled out – None.