The most apparent characteristic across the Lee’s Summit West roster is the height. The Titans have a frontcourt that will provide them with an advantage in almost every game they play. But as a newcomer to the school, junior guard Rich Johnson spotted a more evident trait.
The Titans’ uptempo style, he figured, would make him a natural fit. And for the first month of the season, it appeared he was right. But over the last couple of games, he’s done more than simply fit in.
He’s standing out.
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Johnson scored a game-best 28 points to lift Lee’s Summit West to a 66-60 victory Saturday against Liberty in the Cardinal Division championship game of the William Jewell High School Holiday Classic.
“He was phenomenal,” Lee’s Summit West coach Michael Schieber said. “It’s just one of those things that on any given night, it can be anybody.”
It’s often that aforementioned frontcourt, which features forwards Yor Anei and Christian Bishop. That duo combined for 29 points and 15 rebounds Saturday.
It also supplied some breathing room for Johnson. He made 4 of 5 three-pointers and produced his 28 points on just 15 shots. Lee’s Summit remained unbeaten at 8-0.
“As soon as I saw we play fast, I knew it wasn’t gonna be that hard to fit in here,” said Johnson, who lived in Lee’s Summit while growing up before moving to Texas for five years. “Just make open shots and play the right way, really.”
He more than offset a stellar start from Liberty guard Jalen Lewis, who had 16 points in the first half and 24 for the game. Lewis made six threes. Liberty fell to 8-2.
“Defensively, all their guards are great,” Lewis said. “They just work hard, but my teammates prepare me for that every day in practice.”
Third place: Raytown 76, Blue Springs South 58
Blue Springs South led by two at halftime before Raytown outscored the Jaguars by double digits in each of the final two quarters. Desmond Hutson was one of four Raytown players who scored in double figures, finishing with 16 points.
Fifth place: Staley 57, Kearney 55, OT
Staley outscored Kearney 9-7 in the overtime period to eke out the win. Nick Rumbo had 18 points for Staley.