ANDOVER, Kan.—Maize High’s Keiryn Swensen dribbled a lot Tuesday night, with both hands. Her coach told her to.
“I’m pretty much yelling at her to do it,” Eagles coach Jerrod Handy said. “The colleges want her to (handle the ball). And I want her to get more confident with it, so she can be ready.”
Swenson, 6-foot-1 and just a sophomore, looked plenty confident in the Eagles’ 56-38 road victory. She poured in a game-high 24 points - including 14 in the first half, when Maize led by as many as 15.
She’s already received at least four Division I scholarship offers – including Creighton and Missouri State from the Missouri Valley Conference. She helped the Eagles improve to 8-0.
“I’m really proud of how we’re played,” Swensen said. “All of our opponents have had different game strategies, and we’ve figured them out.”
It should be noted Swenson is one of three sophomores who starts for Maize, which just took over the No. 1 spot in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association’s poll for Class 6A.
“I don’t know if we’re one of the best teams in Class 6A right now,” Handy said. "I know in previous games we haven’t played like it. But I think we have the potential to be there. That’s probably the best total game we’ve put together.”
Handy constantly switched things up offensively and defensively against Jagaurs. “If we didn’t,” Handy said, “they were going to pick us apart.” Indeed, all the Eagles were wary of Andover Central (7-3) after barely beating the Jaguars in last season’s nailbiter, which Swenson described as “a really stressful game."
Tuesday wasn’t nearly as stressful for the Eagles. Central’s Justyce Perez scored the first basket of the night, a bank shot. But Maize answered with an 11-0 run, with five of those points from Swenson.
The Eagles never trailed after that, but they could never quite break the Jaguars’ spirit either.
“They are really good, and they’re quick,” Swenson said. “One of our biggest problems is defending their drive, and they can hit jump shots, too. But our defense handled it. It was a good game to adjust to.”
Handy said the game plan was to attack the basket and get Central’s guards into foul trouble early. It certainly worked: With nearly six minutes to go until halftime, Jaguar point guard Masen Stamp went to the bench with her third foul.
Central’s scoring was led by forward Katie Kretchmar, who had 10 points.
“Their insides are definitely very competitive, very aggressive and they have a lot of good moves,” Kretchmar said. “It’s tough not to draw a foul and try to keep it clean.”
Paige Lungwitz, the only senior on Maize’s roster, scored 15 points for the Eagles.