Topeka West's Rick Bloomquist determined to win cancer fight

Rick Peterson


Topeka West’s boys basketball team will wrap up its regular season next week before beginning its postseason fight for the Class 5A state basketball championship.

Charger coach Rick Bloomquist will begin his fight against cancer the same week.

Bloomquist confirmed Saturday that he has been diagnosed with Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma in his lymph nodes and neck and delivered the shocking news to his team in a meeting minutes after the Chargers clinched the Centennial League championship with a 68-40 win over Topeka High Saturday at West.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, characterized by abnormal, accelerated growth of squamous cells.

“I knew the kids had to know,’’ Bloomquist said. “I don’t want this to be about me, but you know how things escalate and rumors get started. I’ve got 32 kids and you’re going to have 32 versions of what’s wrong with my neck, so it’s important that we put this to rest now and get ready for sub-state. I want the newness to wear off.

“It will be a topic and I don’t want people to think I’m sick. I am sick, but I’m not unhealthy sick. I just need to get rid of this cancer. Cancer’s a scary word and you’ve got to respect it. I found out (Friday) I had to start treatment immediately, so it was time to let the kids know.’’

Rick BloomquistTopeka West boys basketball coach Rick Bloomquist delivered the news to his team that he is fighting cancer minutes after the Chargers clinched the Centennial League championship Saturday at West. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

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West boys Centennial League champs after 68-40 win over rival High

Rick Peterson


Winning a league championship is always nice, and Topeka West senior standout Trevion Alexander admitted that the Centennial League title West wrapped up Saturday with a 68-40 home romp past Topeka High was extra nice for the Chargers.

"It feels good, knowing that Topeka West never had one and this is the first one,'' said Alexander, who scored 16 points as the Chargers improved to 16-2 overall and 13-1 in the league with their 10th straight victory. "Coach (Rick Bloomquist) always says it's good to be the first one.''

After shooting 57 percent in Friday's 60-46 win at Emporia, Topeka West struggled through a spotty offensive performance against Topeka High, shooting just 36 percent from the field.

But the Chargers controlled the game defensively, forcing 24 Topeka High turnovers.

"We just had to play different in the third quarter, knowing that two of their best players (Jalen Smith and Isiah Esquibel) were in foul trouble,'' Alexander said. "They were going to put in some younger guys, so we went at them.''

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