The comeback began midway through the third quarter, and by the time the clock displayed less than a minute left in the game, Chaminade had cut Lee’s Summit West’s 22-point lead to just two.
In a game played above the rim — with seven dunks — the smallest man on the floor halted the comeback.
LS West guard Phillip Brooks, all 5-feet-8 of him, intercepted a lob intended for 6-7 forward Jericole Hellems, then made a pair of free throws to ice the Titans’ biggest victory in school history.
The final score: Lee’s Summit West 74, Chaminade 69.
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Lee’s Summit West (26-2) will play for the first state championship in program history when it faces Webster Groves at 6:20 p.m. Saturday.
“You don’t have to score to impact a game,” Titans coach Michael Schieber said. “There are so many opportunities to be huge.”
Lee’s Summit West had everything clicking in the opening two quarters, building a 33-11 advantage.
The charge from defending champion Chaminade came shortly thereafter. Hellems paced it, scoring a game-best 27 points.
Chaminade twice had the ball with a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but it failed to score on either possession.
Elijah Childs (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Christian Bishop (17 points, 10 rebounds) each posted a double-double for LS West.
“I started getting nervous a little bit,” Bishop said. “Our body language, it kinda went down a little bit. But we picked it back up and we were ready to play again.”
Class 5 girls: Lee’s Summit 48, St. Joseph’s Academy 44
A day before the playoffs began, Lee’s Summit coach Jessica Crawford reminded her team of the opportunity for a fresh start — of the chance to wipe clean a losing record.
The Tigers have made the most of it.
Lee’s Summit continued its postseason surge, defeating St. Joseph’s Academy 48-44 in the Missouri Class 5 semifinals.
After a fifth straight win, Lee’s Summit (16-13) will play Kirkwood for the Class 5 championship at 8:10 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers have not won a state title since 1990.
“We haven’t had any pressure, so that’s kind of nice,” Crawford said. “If we win, people want to say it’s surprising.
“It’s fueled the fire. We like it. I think we’re the underdog going into the championship game, and that’s the role we want.”
Lee’s Summit held the lead for most of the game against a St. Joseph’s Academy team with a decided height advantage, though St. Joseph’s used a 10-0 run in the third quarter for a 29-26 advantage.
Lee’s Summit wing Claire Lock responded with seven points over the ensuing 90 seconds, and the Tigers had the lead for good. Lock finished with 15 points. Paige Elston had 21 points and made 5 of 6 free-throw attempts over the final minute to seal it.
Class 4 boys: Kearney 50, Parkway Central 40
Kearney bounced back from a semifinal loss and cruised to a 50-40 victory over Parkway Central in the Missouri Class 4 boys third-place game.
Senior Connor Ritz scored 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Bulldogs. His brother, Dylan, added 11 points.
Kearney finished 22-8.
“It’s the last game of our lives in high school,” Connor Ritz said. “We’ve been practicing year after year, so to know this was our last one, it inspired us to just go out there and have fun and enjoy it.”