If basketball games were decided by the eye test alone, Thursday’s first-round finale of the Blue Valley Shootout wouldn’t have been much of a contest.
Grandview was bigger, taller, quicker and faster than Lawrence. That’s where the cliché about why they play the game comes in.
Lawrence out-shot, out-hustled, out-executed and generally outplayed Grandview in a foul-filled 74-63 victory at Blue Valley High School.
The Lions will play host Blue Valley tonight at 8:30 p.m. Grandview will play Olathe North at 5 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
Lawrence jumped on Grandview from the start, jumping out to an 11-4 lead. The Lions proceeded to hold Grandview at an arm’s length from there with a combination of timely shooting, both from the three-point and free throw-lines.
“We got some guys in foul trouble, and I had a hard time getting a grasp on the speed and momentum and rhythm of the game. We were able to hit some free throws at the end, and I think there were some good possessions in the first half where we dug in, made some extra passes, made Grandview work a little bit and got some easy shots,” Lawrence coach Mike Lewis said.
The Lions drained nine three-pointers, spread out among four players. Sophomore Justin Roberts led all scorers with 24 points, including a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter that kept Grandview at bay. Prince Morgan and Anthony Bonner chipped in with 15 points apiece.
“We used our speed and aggressiveness. Coach told us to be the aggressors before the game started and that was our main goal and that helped us get the win when it came to size and speed and all that stuff,” Roberts said. “We got off to a hot start. We’re a good shooting team, and we were able to hit our threes early, thankfully.”
Grandview twice got within four points in the second half, but never closer. Tyrone Taylor led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Nelson Nweke scored 12, and Damon King and Wesley Nosakhare had 10 each.
The Bulldogs weren’t able to establish any rhythm due to the staccato pace of the game, which saw both teams combine to shoot 59 free throws. Grandview didn’t do itself any favors from the free throw line, making only nine of 22.
Lawrence handled the pressure, despite a young roster featuring just one senior.
“It’s what we’re all about. It’s not a surprise. It’s the way we should be night in and night out. The guys understand that. They understand composure and how to have that balance of energy and enthusiasm and we should be pretty steady night in and night out,” Lewis said.
They’ll find out again tonight.