After a mid-December swoon, Hogan Prep coach Rob Heitman called a series of team meetings. He apologized to his players during one of them for scheduling a streak of big-class opponents that he felt led to the slump.
The meeting concluded with a plea for patience. The peak would come later rather than sooner, he assured them.
It all came to fruition Saturday.
Hogan Prep outlasted Maryville for a 69-61 victory in the Missouri Class 3 quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Lee’s Summit High School.
The Rams, 23-7, will meet Whitfield, 21-9, in the semifinals at 6:40 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena.
“A lot of our success lately can be attributed to the guys’ willingness to take on that tough schedule,” Heitman said. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger later, right?”
On Saturday, his point guard, Damien Daniels was good both early and late. Daniels scored his team’s first 11 points, helping Hogan Prep to an eight-point lead.
After Maryville cut the advantage to one in the fourth quarter, Daniels responded with back-to-back three-point plays. He finished with 31 points.
“We called time out and we just gathered up and said we had to start playing together again,” Daniels said.
Soloman Thomas added 12 points for Hogan Prep, and Rodvon Jennings had 11. Elijah Dowis scored 24 points for Maryville, and John Zimmerman added 23.
Hogan Prep last reached the final four in 2012.
“Ever since last year, we thought this would be our year,” Daniels said. “This was the team that was going to do it. Now that we’re there, we expect to win it.”
Trenton girls 33, Southeast 31
For the final 25 minutes of a Missouri Class 3 girls quarterfinal between Southeast and Trenton, the margin stuck within three points.
A defensive-governed game prevented either team from making an extended run.
So it was fitting that a defensive stop stood as the final difference.
Trenton survived against Southeast with a defensive stand in the final seconds for a 33-31 win. It will move on to the Class 3 final four for a matchup against Whitfield on Thursday.
“It was a great (postseason) run to get here — something our five seniors are never going to forget,” Southeast coach Reginald Ramsey said. “But we just came up a little short today.”
Trenton scored the first 10 points of the game, and Southeast responded with the next 10. Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.
Breon Gunnels had 16 points for Southeast.