The stage was set Friday night for a special evening of basketball for five Lee’s Summit seniors. They were playing their final regular-season game at home against city rival Lee’s Summit West.
The Tigers delivered a rousing performance in front of a packed gymnasium, beating Lee’s Summit West 92-69 for their sixth straight victory and 16th win in their last 17 games.
Lee’s Summit, 19-6, heads into postseason clicking on all cylinders and with the Suburban Gold conference regular season title.
“Our seniors have been such a great group for us,” Lee’s Summit coach Blake Little said. “You hate to see them go, but you love to send them out this way with a conference championship and a nice home victory.
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“It is hard to balance that. We were trying to honor our seniors and still pursue a team goal and that is not easy. Our kids are such great kids and they come from great families.”
There was actually a bit of drama in the first 5 minutes of the game. The lead changed five times. But after the Tigers took a 9-8 lead on a basket by senior Jordan Bennett, they never looked back.
Junior Marquawn Wilson solidified the lead with a basket and then Lee’s Summit used its up tempo offense to finish the first quarter with a 24-14 advantage.
The second quarter belonged to Lee’s Summit junior Oliver Edwards. He scored 10 points and helped the Tigers take a 47-30 lead into halftime.
“We came out as focused as we could and eventually they broke down and it allowed us to get on a run and push the score up,” said Edwards, who led Lee’s Summit with 19 points.
In the third quarter, junior Blake Spellman took over, scored eight of his 16 points.
The numerous scoring options for the Tigers make them difficult to defend.
Spellman and Oliver scored by driving the ball to the basket and hitting a few outside jumpers. Lee’s Summit West couldn’t focus entirely on them because one of the most celebrated athletes in Lee’s Summit history, senior Drew Lock, is capable of scoring 20 points every game. In his last home game, Lock scored 16.
Lock has seen the Lee’s Summit basketball program rise up in his four seasons.
“This meant the world,” said Lock, who is headed to Missouri on a football scholarship. “Coming from my freshman year to my senior year, this was a little different for my last game. My freshman year there might have been 10 people in the stands. This year we have been playing in front of some good crowds.”
The Tigers were relentless on offense throughout the game. Even with a big lead in the fourth quarter, they kept running their offense. Junior guard Nick Larkin scored six quick points. The 87-63 lead allowed senior reserve Eric Graves to enter the game, and he responded with a basket.
“It is always enjoyable to go out with a win like that, especially seeing all my teammates do well, putting up 92 points,” Graves said. “It was fun for me. It was senior night, all the hype around it and I got in and score that basket.”