Lee’s Summit West didn’t take the court for the second half until after the three-minute buzzer sounded. There would be no time for warming up before the start of the third quarter.
It didn’t matter. The Titans were fired up anyway.
West was never in any serious trouble during its 68-49 victory against Blue Springs South in its Suburban Gold Conference and home opener Tuesday night.
The Titans led from the opening minutes and the Jaguars had no answer for the twin towers of Christian Bishop and Yor Anei, who finished with 20 and 17 points, respectively.
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What troubled West coach Michael Schieber was a lack of intensity in the first half, especially on defense, and he let the Titans know it during their extended halftime.
“We had a really intense talk,” Anei said. “We were in there getting chewed out, getting told we’ve got to play tougher, we’ve got to play harder and we’re getting outworked. So, we came out with that fire and desire in the second half.”
Schieber wasn’t pleased to see West give up 30 points in the first half and let Blue Springs South stay within 35-30 at halftime. He was more pleased when the Titans clogged the lane and made more stops, sparking more transition baskets, in outscoring the Jaguars 33-19 during the final two quarters.
“We talked to our guys about it halftime and I think they responded,” Schieber said. “I thought our defensive intensity picked up, which is a key for us. We’ve got to be able to defend at a high level.”
West (5-0, 1-0 Suburban Gold) never trailed after an 11-0 run early in the first quarter, which included two slam dunks by Bishop and two transition buckets from guard Rich Johnson, who finished with 12 points.
West led 22-13 after the first quarter, but Blue Springs South (3-2, 0-1 Suburban Gold) found just enough shots to hang around as the Schieber watched that intensity waned.
For example, the Titans had the ball with a minute left and were winding down the clock for one shot when the Jaguars’ Jared Ravencamp stole the ball at mid-court and made a layup with 5 seconds left that cut the lead to 35-30.
“I didn’t think we were very effective guarding the ball in the first half,” Schieber said. “We didn’t play with a sense of urgency. I thought in the second half we really picked it up.”
Blue Springs South closed to within 37-34 on a three-pointer from Jack Gillig early in the third quarter before the Titans started pulling away.
Phillip Brooks answered with his own three-pointer, kicking off a 13-3 run as West opened up a 54-39 lead by the end of the quarter. The Titans led by as many as 20 late in the game.
“We’ve got some really good guards so they can’t double the post when they throw it in,” Anei said. “Our guards can knock their shots down. It’s a mismatch problem all around.”
The 6-10 Anei, who signed with Oklahoma State, and 6-8 Bishop, who signed with Creighton, made the most of the mismatch as they slammed home three dunks apiece and constantly altered the Jaguars’ inside shots.
With 6-5 senior Malachi Butler and 6-5 sophomore Trevor Kardell effectively spelling them off the bench, West had too much size for Blue Springs South to handle.
“When we were very diligent about throwing the ball inside, I think we showed what a force we have in there,” Schieber said. “We get a little impatient at times, but we’ll keep working on it and keep getting better.”