With the fourth quarter drawing to a close and her team down three points, Aiyana Johnson spotted a familiar face on the perimeter after getting surrounded in the lane.
There was Tiana Gipson, her longtime teammate at Lee’s Summit North and on April 13 a fellow all-star for the Missouri squad in the Kansas vs. Missouri High School All Star Challenge. It was a scene oft repeated by the Broncos last girls’ basketball season, Johnson dished the ball to Gipson, who swished a three-pointer.
It this case, it was a game-tying bucket.
“We know each other and how we play, so we have all that chemistry,” Gipson said. “But at the same time, it was also a team effort.”
Johnson followed Gipson’s three-pointer with another game-tying basket with a minute to go as Missouri’s girls went on to a 66-63 victory during the first of two contests sponsored by the Greater Kansas City High School Basketball Coaches Association and Nike at Avila University’s Mabee Fieldhouse.
Johnson — a 6-foot-3 post, who will join her sisters Imani and Aaliyah next year at Stephen F. Austin — finished with six points while Gipson, a 5-2 guard, contributed that key three-pointer.
They also both enjoyed getting one last chance to play on the same floor together. Gipson didn’t think it would happen after North’s season ended last month with a 44-41 loss to Liberty in the Class 5 quarterfinals at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.
“I thought the last game at Silverstein would be our last game,” said Gipson, who will play next year at Highland Community College in Kansas. “But to have this opportunity to play with her again is awesome.”
Gipson transferred to North when Archbishop O’Hara closed before her senior year, so she and Johnson were teammates for only one season at North. However, the friendship goes back long before that, and Johnson said that made it more comforting and special to her during the frantic final minutes.
“It was really fun getting to play with Tiana again,” Johnson said. “Having someone that I played with for a long time and especially this past season definitely helped.”
Lee’s Summit West’s Christian Bishop and Yor Anei got to enjoy a less intense last game together as high-schoolers during the boys’ game, a 114-92 romp by the Missouri all-stars. Anei had four dunks and a three-pointer among his 15 points, while Bishop also had four slams among his 10 points.
Anei, a 6-foot-10 center bound for Oklahoma State, also got to bring the ball up the floor and dish out assists in a game with little Xs or Os or defense. One of those assists set up a second-half basket by Lee’s Summit’s Will Eames, who also sank a three-pointer for five points.
“I was just trying to have fun and just play to my athletic abilities,” Anei said. “I think I did a pretty good job of doing that.”
Bishop, a 6-8 forward who has signed with Creighton, was happy to get some bragging rights along with getting a last chance to play with his former Titan teammate.
“I thought it was a great way to go out,” Bishop said. “Go out on a bang and show the city how we play and what we do on the Missouri side.”