The suspension is served, the recruiting trips are finished and Lee’s Summit West’s regular lineup is back in place.
That doesn’t mean everything’s perfect for the Titans, though.
West is 4-0 since getting everybody back, but that fourth win — a 49-41 slugfest of a win Tuesday at home against Raymore-Peculiar — didn’t have Titans coach Michael Schieber overwhelmed about his re-formed team.
“We looked like we hadn’t played in a week, and you’ve got to give (Ray-Pec) a lot of credit for that,” Schieber said. “I thought they came in and did a really good job against us.”
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In fact, West (17-4 overall, 7-2 Suburban Gold) hadn’t played in a week, not since knocking off Blue Springs 77-56 on Feb. 6 in the third contest since the return of 6-foot-10 center Yor Anei. He missed the eight previous games due to undisclosed disciplinary action.
During the last few games, West senior guards Mario Goodrich and Phillip Brooks also have returned to being regular contributors after missing time for football recruiting trips. Goodrich signed with Clemson last week, while Brooks will be a preferred walk-on at Kansas State.
The results have been terrific in the win column.
“Our team chemistry has gone up a lot, especially having Yor and Mario back,” West senior forward Christian Bishop said. “When we have everybody back, we just play better as a team.”
But that wasn’t always the case against Ray-Pec.
The Titans never trailed after the opening minutes, but the Panthers (10-12, 3-6 Suburban Gold) never went away either, whittling West’s 13-point lead down to six at one point in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t real patient, especially offensively in the first half,” Schieber said. “We were able to get a few spurts, a few turnovers and that was the difference of the game.”
West’s trapping pressure defense forced 18 Ray-Pec turnovers, which helped the Titans take control with a 10-0 second-quarter run that featured a spectacular windmill dunk by Bishop.
West led 25-16 at halftime and pushed its lead to 34-21 on back-to-back baskets off turnovers, but Bishop already had four fouls by then and exited with only six points after fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
Ray-Pec battled foul trouble too, but it still managed to pull within 41-35 midway through the fourth quarter.
“I’ve had a handful of opportunities where I’ve played Christian with three fouls and he’s been able to play through those moments,” Schieber said. “He just got caught in a couple of silly ones, which you can’t do when you’ve got three.”
Fortunately, West still had Anei, whose 17 points led the Titans, including six points off dunks as Ray-Pec struggled with the Titans’ size and athleticism.
The Panthers could get another shot at the Titans soon. West has the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 5, District 13 tournament at Ray-Pec and, if the Panthers get past Belton in the first round Feb. 26, they’ll face the Titans the next night.
“I don’t think we convinced them that we can’t be beat,” Schieber said.