Rockhurst scored 10 points in each of the first three quarters, and that was enough offense for the Hawklets to never trail in their 52-43 victory over Blue Springs on Tuesday afternoon in the William Jewell Holiday Classic basketball tournament at the Mabee Center.
The win puts Rockhurst, 5-4, in the Cardinal Division championship game, which is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Blue Springs entered the game with a 7-1 record and had a 19-point victory at Rockhurst just a week ago. The Hawklets showed how much things can change in high school basketball in one week. They scored the first four points and ended the first quarter with a 10-7 lead.
“It was extremely important to start well,” said Rockhurst junior Scotty Thompson, who finished with a team-high 12 points. “We tried to cut down on our turnovers and box out, and we came up with a win.”
The second quarter mirrored the opening 8 minutes. Rockhurst outscored Blue Springs 10-7 and went into halftime ahead 20-14. The Wildcats spent the first half firing up three-pointers and missing all but one of 11 attempts.
Leading 30-26 to start the fourth quarter, Rockhurst got a three-point play by Thompson followed by a basket by sophomore Xavier Rhodes. The quick points gave the Hawklets a 35-26 lead, which was too much for Blue Springs to overcome.
“Once we get it up to nine, we feel we play good enough team defense to keep it up there,” Thompson said.
Joining Thompson in double-figure scoring were Rhodes, junior Chris Teahan and senior Ben Paulter, who all scored 10 apiece.
Liberty North 68, Lincoln Prep 46
A couple things were clear in Liberty North’s 68-46 victory over Lincoln Prep in a Cardinal Division semifinal game. Liberty North’s 6-foot-9 senior forward Michael Hughes was nearly unstoppable inside, and the Lincoln Prep starters needed to play hard to see court time.
Hughes scored six points early in the first quarter, helping Liberty North quickly build a 9-2 lead. Hughes finished the game 26 points and 16 rebounds.
Frustrated by the lack of effort from his starters in the opening minutes, Lincoln Prep coach Sean Pearson sent his starters to the bench and kept most of them there for the rest of the first half.
The backups for Lincoln Prep played with plenty of energy, but they couldn’t keep pace with the inside scoring of Hughes, a couple of three-pointers by junior Dominic Fragola, and the slashing of senior Michael Wansing, who finished with 14 points.
“They are so aggressive and people have to guard them so you have to help and they set me up so well,” Hughes said of his teammates. “They are always looking to get me open and get me buckets.”
Liberty North led 20-7 after the first quarter and went into halftime ahead 30-15. The Tigers never threatened in the second half.
“Really, it was our defense and rebounding,” Hughes said. “That is what we preach and what we practice every day.”
The Eagles, 7-1, will face Rockhurst at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Cardinal Division championship game.