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We don’t want to share it: Topeka West boys take big step toward league title



TOPEKA, Kan. – When it comes to the final outcome of this year’s Centennial League boys race, Topeka West coach Rick Bloomquist doesn’t mince any words about his Chargers’ intentions.

“We don’t want to share it,” Bloomquist said.

Monday night was a good step toward making an outright championship a reality. West shrugged off an out-of-character first quarter like it was mostly a mere inconvenience and put the pedal down to pick up a key 66-46 road win at Washburn Rural.

In winning its eighth straight game, West improved to 14-2 overall and 11-1 in league play and easily passed one of its last major hurdles in league play. The Chargers still have road games at Hayden (postponed from Tuesday) and Emporia on Friday before finishing with home games against Topeka High (Saturday) and Highland Park (next Tuesday), but Monday’s contest stuck out as a potential stumbling block.

West did indeed stumble early But once the Chargers got their footing, there wasn’t much Rural could do to avoid suffering a season sweep and falling three games back in the league race.

“Any time you can beat Washburn Rural at their place, it’s big,” Bloomquist said. “You knew Rural was going to be ready for us. Their kids are competitive, they’ve got rich tradition here and (Rural coach Kevin) Muff is one of the best coaches in the state without a doubt. It was a win that we needed.

“If we can learn to win in this environment and win making changes like we did tonight, that’s a big step forward.”

With four games left, West holds a two-game lead on Highland Park (10-5, 9-3). If the Chargers play anywhere close to the level they showed in the second and third quarters of Monday’s game, by the time the two meet next Tuesday, the title could be locked up.

At the start of Monday’s game West was nearly as cold as the frigid temperatures outside, at least on the offensive end. Going up against Rural’s 3-2 zone, the Chargers were passive and out of sync.

Passes were forced, shots were rushed and the high-powered offense that averages better than 70 points per game was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the Chargers only hit one field goal in the opening period, and that didn’t come until the final 1:30 and came on a putback by Marque Wilkerson.

Only a solid effort defensively kept West well within striking distance at the end of the period, down just 10-5.

“It was all what Rural was doing,” said Bloomquist, who wasn’t the least bit surprised by the slow start. “I knew that’s how they’d come out and our players didn’t, even though I told them. Sometimes I can be a prophet, but my biggest fear was it happening for four quarters.”

However real that fear was, the Chargers put it to rest quickly. West opened the second quarter with a quick 10-0 run capped by six straight points from Trevion Alexander and the switch was flipped.

The Chargers exploded for 25 points in the quarter and when Zander Putthoff hit two 3-pointers in the final 45 seconds, the last at the halftime buzzer, West had seized control of the game, leading 30-19 at the break.

“The thing I really enjoyed is the fact that we had a team personality change,” Bloomquist said. “It wasn’t just one or two guys. We have the tangibles. We have talented players. The tangibles are in place. So we’re working on the intangibles all the time and they did a great job of changing their game personality in a quarter. Once we got going, we were going.”

After an efficient first quarter in which they scored on half of their possessions, the Junior Blues buckled when they had to match firepower with West in the second quarter. Rural committed seven turnovers in the second quarter and made just 3 of 11 shots.

A Jack Hutchinson 3-pointer made it a three-point game late in the half before West scored the final eight points.

“Our 3-2 looked good early,” Muff said. “And when we went to man, we got three or four straight stops. But we couldn’t convert and got undisciplined offensively. I felt if we could have stayed tight going into halftime, we’d have a chance.”

When West opened the second half with a 12-2 run capped by 3-pointers from Alexander and Putthoff, that chance was gone with the Chargers up 21. Rural never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.

All four of West’s big guns were firing. Elijah Brooks scored 18 to lead the way, while Wilkerson added 17 and Alexander and Putthoff had 14 each. The Chargers hit 24 of 42 shots overall, including 14 of 22 in the second half and 23 of 36 after the icy first quarter.

Rural could only counter with Joe Berry’s 16 points.

“When they’ve got four guys putting up high-number double-digits and we only have one, that makes it pretty tough,” Muff said. “We didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”


Coming off an emotional, heartbreaking overtime loss to Topeka High on Friday, Rural’s girls had no trouble bouncing back.

OK, maybe there was a little trouble.

The Junior Blues (14-2, 11-2) were never in danger, scoring the game’s first 14 points. But sloppy play plagued Rural the entire first half as the Junior Blues turned it over a whopping 13 times.

The miscues were more a nuisance than costly, though seven in the second quarter combined with three Charger 3-pointers in the final 1:19 cut Rural’s halftime lead to 30-17.

West then opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to pull within 10 and was still within 11 before the Junior Blues put the Chargers away with a 16-0 run. Brooklyn DeLeye scored seven of her game-high 19 points in that run, while Emma Krueger added five of her 16 points.

Zoe Clark led West (2-14, 2-11) with eight points. The Chargers committed 34 turnovers in the game.


Topeka West;5;25;23;13;—;66

Washburn Rural;10;9;14;13;—;46

Topeka West (14-2, 11-1) — Wilkerson 6-8 5-7 17, Brooks 6-10 5-7 18, T. Alexander 6-10 1-2 14, X. Alexander -2 0-0 0, Putthoff 5-9 0-0 14, Austin 1-3 0-0 3, Lowery 0-0 0-0 0, Lira 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 0-0 0-2 0, Mehrens 0-0 0-0 0, Berg 0-0 0-0 0, Reimer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-42 11-18 66.

Washburn Rural (10-6, 9-4) — Bachelor 3-5 0-0 6, Williams 1-3 3-4 6, Berry 5-12 5-5 16, Hutchinson 2-10 2-2 8, Patterson 1-3 0-0 2, Howard 0-1 0-0 0, D. Brady 0-2 0-0 0, Kidd 2-4 3-3 8, Morrow 0-0 0-0 0, Conklin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-40 13-14 46.

3-point goals — West 7-16 (Putthoff 4-8, Brooks 1-1, T. Alexander 1-3, Austin 1-2, Wilkerson 0-1, X. Alexander 0-1); Rural 5-18 (Hutchinson 2-8, Berry 1-5, Williams 1-2, Kidd 1-2, Bachelor 0-1). Total fouls — West 15, Rural 17. Fouled out — Rural: Bachelor.


Topeka West;6;11;6;11;—;34

Washburn Rural;16;14;18;17;—;65

Topeka West (2-13, 1-11) — S. Triplett 2-3 0-0 6, Sanchez 1-8 4-6 6, Benson 1-3 0-0 3, Clark 2-3 2-2 8, Ford 1-7 0-2 2, Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Anthony 2-2 0-0 5, Duncan 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 1-3 0-0 2, Henderson 0-2 0-2 0, N. Triplett 0-1 0-0 0, Bearman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-34 6-12 34.

Washburn Rural (14-2 11-2) — Bagshaw 1-2 2-2 5, Lutz 2-5 0-0 6, Krueger 4-10 7-7 16, Ingram 3-5 0-1 6, DeLeye 6-9 6-9 19, Canfield 1-5 1-2 3, Hurtig 0-4 1-2 1, Brogan 2-3 0-0 5, Whitmore 0-0 0-0 0, Ladson 0-1 2-2 2, Carlgren 0-0 0-0 0, Schuler 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-45 19-25 65.

3-point goals — West 6-13 (S. Triplett 2-3, Clark 2-3, Benson 1-3, Anthony 1-1, Sanchez 0-3); Rural 6-15 (Lutz 2-5, Bagshaw 1-2, Krueger 1-3, DeLeye  1-1, Brogan 1-1, Canfield 0-2, Hurtig 0-2). Total fouls — West 18, Rural 12. Fouled out — none.