Raymore-Peculiar discovered one consistent problem during its three-game run in the William Jewell High School Holiday Classic — inconsistency.
Both of the Panthers’ losses in the Patterson Division during the 38th edition of the annual holiday-break boys’ basketball tournament at William Jewell College’s Mabee Center were marked by moments of good play followed by bad.
Stretches of poor shooting doomed Ray-Pec on Dec. 27 during a 49-33 fist-round loss against Liberty North.
Three days later, the Panthers spotted Park Hill South a 21-2 first-quarter lead during a 64-49 loss in the fifth-place game on Dec. 30.
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In between, Ray-Pec overwhelmed Smithville 87-27 on Dec. 28 in the consolation semifinals, salvaging something from the tourney.
“At times we did some really good things in both (losses), but we had stretches that hurt us,” Panthers coach Scott Jermain said. “We can’t have stretches that hurt us. That was probably the biggest thing.”
Ray-Pec (6-4) hurt itself by making only 11 of 38 shots (28.9 percent) against Liberty North.
An especially long scoring drought allowed the Eagles to outscore the Panthers 18-5 in the second quarter, which ended with Liberty North in front 23-13.
Shooting 4 of 15 shots from three-point range, Ray-Pec never could overcome that deficit.
“Most of the game we didn’t execute,” Panthers senior forward Wesley McCullough said. “At times, we had really good things going for us, but at other times we didn’t show what were capable of doing. But in the second game we executed and did everything we were supposed to do.”
McCullough, who averaged 11 points during the three tournament games, rebounded from a five-point night against Liberty North to pump in a game-high 21 points against Smithville.
Kian Scroggins, who averaged 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds, added a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards versus the Warriors.
The Panthers shot 66 percent from the field, committed only six turnovers and led 29-2 after the first quarter.
“We had a lot of energy,” Jermain said. “A couple of our shots went in early and they kind of allowed us to keep rolling.”
But Ray-Pec returned to its up-and-down ways against Park Hill South.
South’s speedy guard combo of Lamel Robinson, who scored 25 points, and Desi Williams helped force Ray-Pec into 24 turnovers, including nine in the first quarter alone.
Ray-Pec managed only three shots as it fell into its deep first-period hole then held on to the ball in the second quarter as Park Hill South suddenly couldn’t hit a shot.
The result was that Ray-Pec limited Park Hill South to five second-quarter points and pulled back within 26-18 by halftime.
That’s as close as it got for Ray-Pec, but Jermain was just pleased to see his team make a game of it after falling so far behind.
“It could have been easily really, really ugly and we continued to fight, and fought back and gave ourselves a chance,” Jermain said. “I think it’s a great testament to the kind of kids we have.
“We did some good things. We just cannot spot them that many points.”
Jermain hopes the Panthers can take that fight into Suburban Gold Conference play, which resumes Jan. 9 at home against Blue Springs South. He’d also like to see some consistency from his young team to go along with that fight.
“We showed a lot of grit and unfortunately our schedule doesn’t get any easier,” Jermain said. “We’re going to have to be gritty and figure out way to make things turn in our favor.”