The Lansing Lions are still unbeaten, still able to finish a perfect season with a Class 5A championship, but it wasn’t for lack of effort by St. Thomas Aquinas in Wednesday’s quarterfinal game of the state tournament at the Kansas Expocentre.
Lansing, 23-0, defeated the Saints 68-57 but needed a sterling second half to overcome a 32-22 halftime deficit.
The Lions used a 10-0 run at the start of the third quarter to tie the game. Senior Joe Schneider, who had played only nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, fueled the run with seven points.
After weathering that scorching start, Aquinas steadied itself to stay within a point, 42-41 entering the fourth period.
And with 3:46 left, the 11-12 Saints seemed to be in position to pull off a monumental upset when junior Adam Kutney hit a short jumper for a 54-51 lead.
But when Schneider tied the game on a long three-point shot that teasingly bounced all around the rim before finally going in at the 3:14 mark, Lansing was off on another run.
Senior Dontae Green’s driving layup with 2:02 left gave the Lions the lead, and Lansing made 12 free throws in a row over a stretch of 1 mintes, 40 seconds to put the game away.
Schneider was the leading scorer in the game with 24 points, and seniors Joe Lendway added 16 and Zach Jackson had 11.
Kutney paced the Saints with 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds.Topeka Highland Park 73, Washington 47
Washington scored the first nine points in the third quarter to cut Topeka Highland Park’s 39-28 halftime to lead to just two points at 39-37, but it was all Scotties from that point on.
Highland Park put together a 31-6 run en route to the victory.
The win improved the Scotties’ record to 22-1, while the Wildcats saw their 10-game winning streak snapped. They ended the season with a record of 17-6.
The key for Highland Park was forcing 23 turnovers, while just turning the ball over seven times. And the Scotties were able to break the Wildcats’ half-court zone trap to turn a close game into a rout.
Highland Park got a big game from 6-5 senior Shaffeeq Carr, who had 23 points. He was 10 of 19 from the floor. Senior guard Jahmal McMurray poured in 20 points and junior Daniel Kingcannon added 12.
Senior Jeremee Bennett paced the Wildcats with 16 points while junior William Jefferson hauled down a game-high 12 rebounds.