Half an hour after the biggest shot of his life — a game-winning buzzer-beater from nearly half court — North Kansas City senior Deng Bol slid onto a seat of the team bus and turned his focus to the future. Almost immediately, he got the attention of teammate T.J. Babikir.
“This ain’t it,” Bol told him. “We didn’t come here to take second.”
A day later, those words officially rang true.
North Kansas City defeated Park Hill 58-33 on Saturday to win the Nelson Division of the William Jewell High School Holiday Classic.
Bol was chosen the bracket’s most valuable player. Babikir, who led all scorers Saturday with 18 points, was selected to the all-tournament team. He made 7 of 12 shots, including a pair of three-pointers.
“Once I hit that first one, it set up my mid-range (game),” Babikir said. “Then I was able to get going from there.”
He handled the offense. Yonathon Elful took care of the other end of the floor.
After Park Hill senior Ronnie Bell scored 12 points in the first half, Elful owned the assignment of stopping him for the second half and held Bell without a field goal. As Bell’s shot went cold, so did the Trojans’ offense. They did not make a shot in the opening 11 minutes, 49 seconds of the second half and finished 0 for 9 in the third quarter.
“The biggest adjustment we made (after halftime) was we put Yonathon on Ronnie Bell,” North Kansas City coach Gerry Marlin said. “We really made the move because we were in foul trouble, and then we stuck with it because it was working.”
North Kansas City improved to 11-0. The Hornets advanced to the championship when Bol made a 40-footer as the buzzer sounded to defeat Blue Springs in the semifinals Friday.
Third place: Rockhurst 69, Blue Springs 56
Four players scored in double figures for Rockhurst, led by 15 from Xavier Rhodes. The Hawklets out-rebounded Blue Springs by 14. Blue Springs senior RJ Lawrence led all scorers with 18 points.
Fifth place: Center 79, Fort Osage 58
Daryl Wright scored 24 points for Center, which secured 32 of its points from the free-throw line. Dez Griswold scored a game-best 29 points for Fort Osage.