All Lee’s Summit senior Seth Romi had to show for his first three quarters against Lee’s Summit West on Tuesday was a single three-pointer, which he made way back in the opening minutes.
But with the Tigers down by one point in the closing seconds of a back-and-forth battle, coach Blake Little knew who he wanted taking what could have been their last shot at a huge Suburban Gold Conference road victory.
“Coach told me when he drew up that play it was either going to be a roll for Will (Eames) or a pop and a three for me,” Romi said. “When he broke the huddle, he told me I was going to bury it, so I went out there and did what he told me to do.”
Romi broke free at the top of the key and buried a three-pointer with 14 seconds left for the final points during a wild 49-48 victory at West.
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The win kept Lee’s Summit (10-7, 4-0 Suburban Gold) undefeated in conference and showed why Little still has all the faith in the world in Romi, his 5-foot-11 senior guard, even as he battled through an off shooting night.
“That’s the look we wanted,” Little said. “I’m proud of him. He’s got that swagger.”
Romi’s shot came during a frantic final minute that started with West (13-3, 3-1 Suburban Gold) clinging to a 48-46 lead it had held since early in the third quarter. The Titans appeared ready to add to that margin with 46 seconds left when 6-foot-8 forward Christian Bishop went up for slam — only to have the ball bounce high off the rim.
Lee’s Summit turned the ball over on its next possession, and Bishop inbounded from the Tigers’ baseline with a baseball pass to Anthony Sirna. Eames swatted away Sirna’s shot, giving the Tigers possession again with 26.5 seconds left.
Time enough to get Romi a wide-open look.
“We’ve got a joke about how we’d always run plays that weren’t for him,” Little said. “I told him, ‘All right, here’s one for you.’”
Lee’s Summit still had to cling for dear life after Romi’s three-pointer. The Tigers had only committed two team fouls and knew there wasn’t enough time left to put West at the line if the Titans scored.
“It kind of put us in a weird situation,” Little said.
And West had its chances.
With 4.9 seconds left, Bishop went to the basket but was whistled for a charge when he ran into Eames.
Jordan Moore missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Tigers with 3.8 seconds left, allowing West one last gasp. Mario Goodrich threw a half-court pass to Rich Johnson, whose three-point attempt fell short at the buzzer.
“We didn’t finish the game,” said West assistant coach Keith Miller, who took when head coach Michael Schieber left before the game feeling ill. “We had our opportunities, but we didn’t get it done.”
Goodrich had 15 points to lead West, which lost its second straight game and played again without center Yor Anei.
Bishop had 12 points and Johnson finished with 11 for the Titans.
Eames and Moore had 13 points apiece for Lee’s Summit, while Romi, after tallying nine fourth-quarter points, wound up with 12 — and an added boost of confidence for himself and his team.
“This probably the best feeling after a win that I’ve had since I’ve been playing here,” Romi said. “It was a lot of fun.”