Rockhurst overcame a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit and pulled a mild upset, beating Kearney 60-58 in overtime, primarily because the Bulldogs refused to accept charity.
By DAVID BOYCE
Special to The Star
Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, Kearney, seeded fourth in the Nelson Division, missed eight straight free throws. That allowed the Hawklets to hang on Thursday afternoon in the first-round game of the Niles Media Group Holiday Classic at William Jewell.
“This shows our toughness as a team,” said Catier Dean, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “We weren’t a seed. We were the underdogs. We are trying to prove ourselves, and this was a good way to start.”
Rockhurst, 3-2, will play Blue Springs South at 6 p.m. Saturday in a semifinal game.
The Hawklets appeared headed to the loser’s bracket when they gave up the first nine points in the fourth quarter and faced a 49-40 deficit.
But in the final four minutes of regulation, Kearney went ice cold from the line. Rockhurst took advantage and closed to 51-50 with 54 seconds left.
Kearney finally made a free throw with 27 seconds left. But all Rockhurst needed was a two-point field goal to send the game into overtime.
Perhaps the play of the game for Rockhurst came with just under 10 seconds left. Dean drove to the basket and dumped the ball off to 6-foot-7 junior forward Andrew Marquardt, whose layup tied the game at 52 with 6 seconds left.
“I knew I needed to get a good shot up,” Dean said. “When I got past my man, Andrew’s man stepped over and he was wide open. I dished it over to him, and he finished like a big man should.”
In a pressure situation, a layup is not guaranteed. Marquardt knew that.
“I didn’t want to miss the shot,” Marquardt said. “Obviously, I knew what was riding on that shot. I was trying to get it off the glass and I did.”
There were four lead changes in overtime. Rockhurst got the lead for good off a put-back by Noah Spencer, making it 57-56. Two free throws by Dean solidified the Hawklets’ lead at 59-56.
Senior Dray Starzl led Kearney with a game-high 22 points.
Blue Springs South 76, O’Hara 44
Blue Springs South was in complete control late in the second quarter against O’Hara and showed why they won 76-44.
The Jaguars built a 35-15 lead on a potent combination of outside and inside scoring from 6-foot-7 junior Kevin Puryear. Puryear was nearly unstoppable. He finished with a game-high 37 points, which included 14 of 15 from the free-throw line.
“I thought we were pretty efficient on both ends,” Blue Springs South coach Jimmy Cain said. “We rebounded the ball well and obviously shot the ball well early. I thought we did a real good job on the offensive glass, which is something we need to do every time we play with our size.”
Lincoln Prep 71, William Chrisman 47
Midway through the first quarter, Lincoln Prep junior Jonathan Reese dunked and was fouled on the play. As impressive as the move was, it signified an emphasis for the Tigers that doomed William Chrisman.
Lincoln Prep made a concerted effort early in the game to take the ball inside. It helped the Tigers build a 13-point halftime lead that they rode to a comfortable 71-47 victory.
Lincoln Prep improved to 10-0. The Tigers return to action at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and will play Park Hill South in the semifinals of the Nelson Division.
Reese’s first dunk that resulted in a three-point play gave Lincoln Prep a 9-5 lead. At the end of the first quarter and start of the second quarter, junior Asim Brown came off the bench and scored three straight baskets inside that pushed the Tigers’ lead to 19-9.
“I do think that set the tone and boosted us up,” said Reese, who finished with 15 points. “We are just trying to play Lincoln basketball.”
Park Hill South 62, Harrisonville 36
Park Hill South led by only six points late in the third quarter when it completely changed the momentum of the game on two plays by senior guard Payton Meek.
Meek dropped a bounce pass to junior Evan Hines in the paint and Hines scored. After a stop, Meek hit a three-pointer.
The quick five points gave Park Hill South a double-digit lead going into the fourth quarter. The Panthers stayed hot in the fourth quarter and cruised to a 62-36 victory.
Meek made four three-pointers and finished with 16 points.
On the strength of three-point shooting from seniors Luke Cooper and Matthew Prindle, Harrisonville stayed close, trailing 25-24 at halftime and just 36-30 with less than 2 minutes left in the third quarter.