Lee’s Summit North’s Javaunte Hawkins racked up the points Friday against Lee’s Summit, just as he did during the last two meeting.
They just came a little differently this time.
Hawkins is one of the Broncos’ main outside shooting threats. He smoked the Tigers for 35 and 21 points in those previous two games.
When North claimed an 88-75 victory during the third meeting at Lee’s Summit, Hawkins pumped in another 25 points — all but seven of them from the free-throw line.
“A lot of my shots weren’t falling,” said Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 junior guard. “A lot of them kept going in and out, but I knew down the stretch I would have to step up and score like I always do, and the easiest way was to get to the free-throw line.”
Hawkins got to the line 20 times in the tightly called contest and missed only twice. He made his last 14 free throws without a miss, including an 8-for-8 stretch in the fourth quarter that helped North maintain the double-digit lead it enjoyed most of the game.
As a team, North (12-8, 5-4 Suburban Gold) finished 33 of 38 from the line after going 22 for 23 on Feb. 6 in beating Park Hill.
Lee’s Summit (13-10, 7-2 Suburban Gold) got to the line 32 times and made 22.
It was a good night to be hot from the stripe, because the referees whistled a combined 47 fouls — 24 on the Tigers and 23 on the Broncos.
“I’d rather not see it called like that,” North coach Mike Hilbert said. “But at the same time, our guys handled it and I think it was to our advantage in the second half, because we did get to the free-throw line and scored a bunch of points there.”
This was a departure from the other two games, which featured deadly outside shooting in down-to-the-wire contests.
When Lee’s Summit won 79-77 on Jan. 9 at North, the Tigers’ Seth Romi made four three-pointers and Hawkins made 4 of 9. In North’s 75-74 win Jan. 19 during the Culver’s Classic fifth-place game, Hawkins knocked in five threes.
This time, Hawkins made just one three in four attempts and the Broncos made just four shots overall from behind the arc.
Romi, who only scored seven points, was 1 for 8 from three-point range and the Tigers were a combined 3 for 18.
“Our purpose going into every game is to try to get the ball to the lane,” Hilbert said. “We got it there enough where we didn’t have to knock down a bunch of perimeter jump shots. I thought Lee’s Summit did a good job (driving the lane), too. Maybe that’s why the officials were calling a bunch of fouls, because both teams were really aggressive attacking the basket.”
North never trailed after opening the game with an 8-0 run as Lee’s Summit struggled to adjust to the barrage of whistles. The Tigers seemed especially perplexed when point guard Nate Jones received a quick technical with the Tigers down 31-24 late in the second quarter.
“I have no idea what happened,” Little said. “He (the referee) told me he yelled in his face and I said what did he yell and he said, ‘Ahhh.’ That puts him on the bench and we can’t overcome that.”
He added, “It really hurt us because we couldn’t do what we wanted to do defensively. Our margin of error is fairly small and when you get in a situation like that ...”
Lee’s Summit, which got 21 points from Jaden Moore and 15 each from Will Eames and Deron McDaniel, stayed within striking distance until North pulled away late in the third quarter. When Jack Gatti hit an off-balance three at the quarter’s buzzer, the Broncos had a 59-45 lead that would grow to 22 thanks to Hawkins’ free throws.
“I think it was a lesson for me, because, even when the shots aren’t falling, I can still score in a variety of ways,” Hawkins said.