The fourth quarter will make an interesting instructional video for Lee’s Summit North boys basketball coach Mike Hilbert.
Hilbert could use it to show the Broncos how not to protect a hard-fought lead, which the Broncos appeared trying to give away Tuesday night against Park Hill South. Then, he could show them, with one frightening exception, how to do it.
It would all conclude with a missed free throw, a missed three-pointer, and a 70-68 victory for the Broncos at North.
“There were some things I really liked,” Hilbert said. “But there were some turnovers toward the end of the game that are a reason I’ve got more grey hair now and it’s a little thinner.”
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North (3-3) and Park Hill South (4-2) battled through seven ties and 12 lead changes before the Broncos built a 62-55 lead in the fourth quarter. That was the biggest lead either team managed.
Park Hill South chipped away at that lead with added pressure that forced fouls and helped the Panthers get to the free-throw line.
After Panthers guard Lamel Robinson made a scoop shot to make it 67-65 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left, North lost the ball again — only to have Park Hill South cough it up on a traveling call.
“I think we got a little less aggressive, because we were trying to protect the lead,” North senior guard Logan Jenkins said. “We’ve got to do a better job of continuously attacking, get to the basket, get shots even in the final minutes.”
Hilbert wanted the Broncos to run out the final 1:20 and make Park Hill South put them on the foul line and, for the most part, they did so to perfection. North made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and rebuilt its lead to 70-65.
After the Panthers’ Saadique Perkins made a three with 19 seconds left, North almost lost the ball on a high cross-court pass that guard Jack Gatti barely controlled as he was fouled by Perkins. Gatti missed the front end of a one-and-one with 11 seconds left, and Robinson just missed a three from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded.
“You talk to them about, ‘Hey, we’ve got timeouts. It’s our possession; don’t jump up in the air and throw it,’” Hilbert said. “... But it’s just one of those things when you’re 16, 17 years old and the game’s going up and down and people are yelling and screaming, you just kind of react.”
Hilbert’s biggest scare came 10 seconds into the half when guard Javaunte Hawkins slammed to the floor after trying to block a breakaway by Robinson.
Hawkins, who scored a school-record 39 points Dec. 9 during North’s in 73-71 win against Staley at the Webster Groves Invitational, walked off the court on his own after being down several minutes and spent the rest of the game on the bench.
Hilbert said Hawkins didn’t suffer a concussion, because his head didn’t hit the floor.
“He got his hands down and that’s what really smacked the floor,” Hilbert said. “He said his wrists really hurt and that’s why he couldn’t continue.”
While North had to continue without its top scorer, several Broncos picked up the slack. Jenkins scored a team-high 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting from three-point range. Junior guard Mikel Henderson went 3 for 5 behind the arc and finished with 14 points, as did 6-8 forward Elijah Farr.
Farr even hit a three-pointer in the fourth quarter as part of a 4-for-5 burst from behind the arc that gave the Broncos the lead.
“I just thought it was a good team effort,” Hilbert said. “I thought across the board, once we lost Javaunte, everybody kind of stepped into a gap and made it possible for us to win.”
North needed all those points to counter Robinson, a Division-I prospect who riddled the Broncos for 27 points. But Robinson couldn’t make one last three, and Hilbert had his teaching moment.
“I can say, ‘Guys, listen, this has been really effective,’” Hilbert said. “We’re playing well against really good teams now.”