Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North will meet once, possibly twice, more this boys basketball season. When they do, there will be far more on the line than fifth place at a midseason tournament.
Still, the Tigers and Broncos will be hard-pressed to match the grit and intensity of Friday’s fifth-place game in the 43rd annual Culver’s Classic.
North built a big lead early and survived a frantic fourth quarter for a 75-74 victory at Lee’s Summit’s Field House during the crosstown rivals’ second meeting in 10 days.
Lee’s Summit earned a 79-77 win during the first meeting, a Suburban Gold Conference matchup Jan. 9 in the Broncos’ gym.
The two teams meet again Feb. 9 at Lee’s Summit and also could see each other once more during the Class 5, District 13 tournament.
Those next matchups won’t be any different, especially considering how hard the Tigers (9-6) and Broncos (8-7) fought for lesser stakes.
“Probably the most intense fifth-place game in tournaments across the city,” North coach Mike Hilbert said. “But that’s the way it’s going to be when we play them. And like the first time 10 days ago, it came down to the last possession.”
Trailing by 14 points early in the second half, Lee’s Summit chipped away at North’s lead in the fourth quarter and drew within 73-71 after Jaden Moore drove and scored with 27.5 seconds left. Mikel Henderson sank two free throws to make it 75-71 with 15.1 seconds left.
Lee’s Summit lost the ball out of bounds, but the Tigers regained possession with 6.5 seconds left when Landen Willis tied up Henderson to force a jump ball with the arrow in the Lee’s Summit’s favor. That gave Deron McDaniel just enough time to swish a three-pointer, which cut the Broncos’ lead to one.
The buzzer sounded right after McDaniel made the shot, but Lee’s Summit coach Blake Little had already called a timeout. The officials put 0.8 of a second back on the clock, just enough time for North’s Logan Jenkins to throw a baseball pass to Henderson.
Nate Jones tried to wrestle the ball from Henderson, and tempers flared as the two kept battling after the buzzer.
Little thought the Tigers should have received a little more time.
“The shot left his hand at 4.6 (seconds) and they put 0.8 on,” Little said. “There should have been about 1 1/2 seconds left. If there was 1 1/2 seconds left, we’re shooting free throws after what should have been a technical.
“That didn’t cost us the game, but it was frustrating because we were playing really well and doing exactly what we needed to do in the last minute of that game to give us a chance.”
Earlier in the game North, which combined 6-8 center Elijah Farr’s 5-of-5 shooting performance inside with its normally deadly outside shooting to build a 42-38 lead late in the first half, took control.
Farr, who struggled in the first meeting with Lee’s Summit, finished with 18 points.
“One of the major differences between the last game and this one was Elijah was really good,” Hilbert said. “For us to be good ... he’s got to be good in the post, so that was really good to see.”
North boosted its lead to 52-38 early in the third quarter before the Tigers went on a 10-0 run and pulled within 52-48. Moore, who led all scorers with 26 points, started the run with a back-door basket off a feed from Will Eames and ended it with a transition layup.
Eames, who struggled early before finishing with 12 points, brought Lee’s Summit back within 58-57 on a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Javaunte Hawkins responded with a three for North, and hit another one after back-to-back baskets by Moore put the Tigers within two again. Hawkins made five threes and led North with 21 points.
“They always kept us at arm’s length and we couldn’t quite get over,” Little said. “(Hawkins) hit those two big shots, and to me those were the difference in the game.”
That, and the final frantic seconds.
Hogan Prep won the tournament championship with a 60-47 victory against Raytown South in the final, while Raytown blasted Ruskin 64-42 in the third-place game.