There were plenty of Xs and Os to explain how Lee’s Summit’s third-quarter success against Lee’s Summit North’s zone defense. Tigers coach Blake Little boiled it down to one simple concept: Familiarity.
“That was our 15th quarter against them this year, and I feel like it took us 15 quarters to figure it out,” Little said. “But all of a sudden we had it and we were good.”
The fourth meeting between the crosstown and Suburban Gold Conference rivals took place Feb. 27 during the Class 5, District 13 boys’ basketball tournament semifinals.
Lee’s Summit proved it had done its homework. With pinpoint passing and backdoor cuts, the Tigers outscored the Broncos 24-12 in the third quarter and parlayed that into an 80-73 victory at Raymore-Peculiar.
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Now, Lee’s Summit (14-11) will see another familiar foe in the district final at 7 p.m. Friday at Ray-Pec — Lee’s Summit West (20-4), which advanced by crushing Belton 63-33 in the other semifinal.
North (13-11) won two of the previous three meetings against Lee’s Summit, including an 88-75 win at Lee’s Summit during the most-recent game in the midst of a five-game losing streak for the Tigers. A lot of that floundering, Little said, came from an inability to make good passes.
This time, Lee’s Summit successfully fed sophomore forward Jaden Moore for a team-high 28 points, mostly coming from in the paint. That also helped Will Eames muscle inside for 15 points and Deron McDaniel open up for 13 points in the second half.
“The biggest thing was we were patient,” Little said. “The last time we played them we weren’t patient. We just sped up and we didn’t move the ball around and we didn’t take good shots. As long as we do our thing on offense, we can get great looks.”
North led 19-17 after a tight first quarter and 34-33 at halftime after battling through two ties and four lead changes in the second quarter.
But Lee’s Summit never trailed again after McDaniel scored the first seven points of the third quarter. He made a free throw after getting fouled on a falling-away three-pointer and added another three on the Tigers’ next possession.
The lead grew from there as the Tigers found one good look after another. It was 49-40 after Eames found Moore on the baseline for a reverse layup.
Moore added two buckets — off assists from Eames and Nate Romi — sanwiched around Eames’ bucket off a feed from guard Nate Jones as the lead ballooned to 57-46 by the end of the quarter.
“Lee’s Summit just finally solved the riddle of the zone and, to their credit, they won the basketball game,” North coach Mike Hilbert said.
But not before surviving a fourth-quarter barrage from the Broncos’ Javaunte Hawkins. The 5-10 junior guard scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the final period, including three of his six three-pointers.
All three were contested long-range bombs, and the third one got the Broncos as close as 78-73 in the final seconds.
“That kid’s a special player,” Little said. “There’s not much more we could have done other than tackle him.”
Lee’s Summit kept North at a distance from the free-throw line, where the Tigers made 13 of 17 in the fourth quarter. Romi made five of six free throws and finished with 16 points.
No trouble for Titans
With just a wrinkle or two, Lee’s Summit West stuck to its script.
The Titans combined its high-pressure defense, perimeter quickness and withering inside presence Tuesday to rout a Belton team that appeared emotionally drained after 40-38 victory against rival Raymore-Peculiar the night before.
The Titans’ trapping defense produced 14 turnovers, six in the first quarter alone, while the Pirates struggled to penetrate the lane. Even when they did, 6-foot-8 senior Christian Bishop and 6-5 senior Malachi Butler, who filled in for ailing 6-10 senior Yor Anei, were there to alter or block their shots.
Anei, who had to sit out eight games earlier in the season, is expected back for the district final.
“It was a good performance by our guys,” West coach Michael Schieber said. “Obviously, any time you can get a district win under your belt you’re happy about it for sure.”
When the Titans are going well, most of their points from its bigs. Bishop did lead the team in scoring with 14 points, but they also got more perimeter production that usual.
Senior guard Phillip Brooks isn’t a double-digit scorer, but he contributed 12 points, all in the first half, while fellow guard Mario Goodrich added nine points and guard Anthony Sirna popped a pair of three-pointers off the bench.
“If we can hit enough perimeter shots to keep people honest, we can get pretty hard to handle in a hurry,” Schieber said.