Raytown junior Jailen Gill has been a Kansas basketball fan for as long as he can remember. Except he’s no longer just a fan when he watches the Jayhawks.
He’s taking notes, too. Most notably, Gill has been scouting Kansas big man Joel Embiid, a player whom Gill, also a post player, is trying to emulate.
There was no Dream Shake on Monday — though he insists it’s coming in a future game — but Gill produced an admirable impersonation of his idol anyway, scoring 20 points in leading Raytown to a 69-59 victory over Raytown South in the Time Warner SportsChannel Showcase at the Sprint Center.
“I love Embiid — he’s my favorite player actually,” said Gill, whose performance included two dunks. “You can learn a lot from watching him play. Anything I see from him — like the way he pump fakes or works out of a double team — I try to do the same things he does and follow his steps.”
The Blue Jays, 9-4, are following in the footsteps of their leading scorer. Gill, who averages 16.1 points per game, is a primary reason Raytown has already surpassed last season’s win total — despite starting only one senior.
“I’m fortunate because I think we have great kids,” first-year coach Cody Buford said. “We haven’t had to change too much about their mind-set. Their effort has been great ever since I got the job.”
They produced one of their better team efforts Monday. John Burton (13 points), Derrick Walker (12) and Brandon Sublett (10) were also in double figures, helping Raytown build a 14-point lead after its first possession of the second half.
But the lead didn’t stay there long.
Behind junior forward Tyrone Gibbs, Raytown South made a third-quarter charge to cut the lead to just three points. Gibbs scored 17 points, including 14 in the third quarter.
Raytown responded with a 16-10 run to close out the game, earning payback after losing to its rival last January at the Sprint Center.
“It’s fun on the winning side,” Sublett said.Topeka Highland Park 70, Grandview 55
The Grandview coaching staff spent the better part of the past week watching tape of Topeka Highland Park, trying to pinpoint what made the Scots unbeatable through the first half of the season.
Grandview coach Randy Farris quickly settled on his answer.
“They’re a team that doesn’t let anything bother them,” Farris said. “They just go on to the next play. That’s what I admire most about their team.”
He saw it first-hand Monday.
Grandview built a double-digit lead in the first quarter, then watched an unfazed Highland Park team respond with a run of its own and pull away late in the fourth quarter.
Highland Park improved to 10-0 behind 28 points from Jahmal McMurray.
Highland Park trailed 20-10 after the opening quarter, but it flipped that into a four-point halftime lead. It led for the remainder of the night.
Tyrone Taylor scored 20 points in the losing effort for Grandview, which saw its seven-game winning streak end, but half of those came in the first quarter.
“I think as the game went by, I got tired,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t the pace — we’re used to that pace — but it was the court. It’s bigger than most (high school) courts.”Washington 54, Hogan Prep 50
With Washington senior J.T. Bennett scoring nearly 25 points per game, it was only a matter of time before teams started implementing a box-and-one defense to slow him down.
That time came Monday.
Hogan Prep used the box-and-one to hold Bennett to only nine points, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Washington from escaping with a win.
“To be honest with you, probably everyone from here on out will probably play a box-and-one on J.T,” Washington coach Eric King said. “What he has to do is be a willing passer. But the one thing with our team is if everyone plays their role, it’s going to be hard box-and-one him because we have guys that can step up and score.”
Hogan Prep, 6-10, trailed by nine in the fourth quarter before putting together an 8-0 run to cut the Washington lead to 44-43 with 4:40 remaining. But it never led in the game.
James McNeal paced Washington with 13 points, while Tyus Franks scored a game-best 16 for Hogan Prep.
“I thought we had a ltitle better team than we did, but they play hard and they play together, so I would not want to see those guys right around March,” King said. “They’re going to have a pretty good team by the end of the season.”Harmon 73, Northeast 57
Harmon and Northeast exchanged the lead at least twice in each of the first three quarters.
The fourth quarter, however, belonged to Harmon. Bypassing a dramatic finish, Harmon pulled away in the final quarter.
Northeast guard Ali Ali made a three-point that gave the Vikings a two-point advantage midway through the third quarter, but the shot actually seemed to put a jolt into Harmon, which immediately responded with a 9-0 run to regain the lead for good.
The momentum didn’t stop there. Harmon outscored Northeast 17-7 in the fourth quarter.
Robert Holliday paced Harmon with 22 points on four three-pointers. Isaiah Richardson added 18, and Jajuan Coleman had 16.
Patrick Burton led Northeast with 19.