Shawnee Mission South feasted on a non-conference schedule bloated with small-class competition.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Last month, the Raiders knocked off undefeated Wichita North at the Dodge City Tournament of Champions, but Kansas-bound scoring machine Conner Frankamp missed the game with a concussion.
Opening the Sunflower League slate, SM South benefitted from playing its first four games against the bottom four teams in the standings.
So, even at 13-0 entering Friday’s showdown at Olathe South, there was a sense that the Raiders, who are ranked No. 2 in The Star’s big-class poll and No. 1 in Kansas 5A, still had something to prove.
The host Falcons provided a tough but fair mid-term exam, which SM South passed after erasing a one-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter en route to a 47-40 victory.
“This is exactly what we’ve needed,” said Raiders coach Brett McFall, an Olathe South graduate. “We’ve played some good teams, but we’ve just pulled away from them and handled them. I told the guys all week, ‘I guarantee this isn’t going to be a 20-point game.’ We’ve only been down in two games and even then it was 4-2 or 2-0, so tonight was for important us.”
SM South, 14-0, beat Lawrence Free State 65-48 on Jan. 8. Until Friday, that was the closest contest the Raiders had played.
“Coach tells us every practice we were still waiting for a test,” said guard Devin Newsome, who scored 13 and brought a spark with his quickness and tenacity on defense. “We know that to be the best, we’ve got to beat the best. We’ve been eager for that. It wasn’t our best game, but I’d give it about a B.”
During the first quarter – an entertaining back-and-fourth affair, which ended with SM South ahead 17-15 after five lead changes and two ties – neither coach was pleased with the defense.
Heading into halftime, offense had suddenly become a concern for both teams.
The Raiders’ only second-quarter basket came on a layup by Newsome with 1 minute, 6 seconds left before halftime, but the Falcons only scored six points itself and failed to pull away.
Olathe South, 10-4, led 21-19 at the break.
The Falcons still led 28-27 after the third-quarter brawling ended, but the Raiders blew the game open with a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter and held on from there.
“We didn’t play a complete game, but that fourth quarter was our game,” Newsome said. “That’s what we do.”
Led by senior Josh Pedersen, who had game-highs for points (14) and rebounds (nine), SM South dominated the boards 33-24, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Senior Connor Soukup led Olathe South with 12 points, while junior Noah Knight added nine points with six rebounds and four assists. Senior David Nelson also had four dimes.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.