By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It seemed like the stars were aligning for Ozark…
An 11-0 run, powered by back-to-back-to-back 3s by senior guard Quinn Nelson, cut what had been a double digit lead by Blue Valley Northwest to just one possession, 48-45, putting the Huskies back on their heels.
But, Blue Valley Northwest countered with an impressive 22-5 run, pushing its lead back up to 20, on its way to a 73-56 win over Ozark at the Ozark Mountain Shootout.
“My kids believed they could win in that moment,” said Mark Schweitzer. “If we would’ve finished the quarter without having mental lapses things could’ve been different. But the last 35 seconds of the third quarter was deflating and I don’t think we ever recovered.”
On a team full of Division One talent, it was 6-foot-3 senior guard Sam Ward that powered the spurt. Ward scored nine of the team’s next 22 points, all coming from behind the 3-point line. He finished with a team-high 21 points.
In the half-minute span that Schweitzer referred to, Ward had a steal that led to a layup and closed the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3. BVNW went from up six to being up by 11 in just 35 seconds.
“I’ve coached a long time and I don’t know how many times I’ve said ‘no, no, no’ but then he hits a big shot,” said Blue Valley Northwest coach Ed Fritz. “He made three or four plays during that run to push our lead back up, we were breathing again and the game was over.”
The Huskies led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.
Early on, it seemed like Blue Valley Northwest might run away with it, scoring eight of the game’s first 10 points. Six of those came from 6-foot-8 senior Parker Braun.
Braun, as well as his brother, 6-foot-5 junior Christian Braun, both hold Division One offers but it was big brother Parker that gave Ozark fits.
Blue Valley Northwest led 37-25 with Braun scoring 13 of his 17 points in the first half, which included several dunks and a corner 3.
“Parker really controlled the game defensively; he made it really hard for them to score,” said Fritz. “And on the other end when he’s scoring inside and can knock down a few perimeter jumpers he’s tough to defend.”
Christian Braun finished with 13 points. He currently holds an offer from Missouri State.
Ozark was led by Quinn Nelson, who scored 16 of his 19 points in the third quarter. He was the only Tiger in double figures.
Blue Valley Northwest will play Hazelwood Central on Saturday, which could be the single best matchup of the Ozark Mountain Shootout. Ozark will visit Rogersville on Tuesday.
Following the game, Schweitzer was his typical, blunt self.
“I thought we competed in spurts with a team that the eyeball test says we have no business competing with,” he said. “The score will say we got ran but they know they were in a ball game. That game made us better. We didn’t lose, we learned.”
Blue Valley Northwest 73, Ozark 56
Ozark 12-13-20-11 – 56
Blue Valley Northwest 17-20-19-17 – 73
Ozark (3-1): Nelson 19, Nichols 9, Hanks 8, Elliott 7, Holzer 7, Cooper 2, Ramsdell 2, Skipworth 2.
Blue Valley Northwest (2-0): Ward 21, P. Braun 17, C. Braun 13, Pleasant 8, Johnson 6, J. Chapman 5, M. Chapman 3.