Two days after Lee’s Summit won the Culver’s Classic on its home floor — putting the stamp on a six-game winning streak — the team met for a weekend practice. But before the Tigers took the floor Sunday, coach Blake Little turned the team’s attention toward the second half of the season, when the Suburban Gold Conference schedule takes flight.
Symbolic of his message, Little grabbed the Culver’s Classic championship trophy and locked it away in a locker room closet. It will stay there until the end of the season, he said.
“It’s the last they will see of it until the banquet,” Little said. “For us, we celebrated that win for 24 hours, but then it was back to work. Our kids want to go win a conference championship, and they recognize the conference is as tough as anywhere, so it’s going to take our full attention.”
The Tigers, 9-5, are rounding into form at the right time. Drew Lock scored 30 points in the 85-77 Culver’s Classic championship victory against Lee’s Summit West, with Jordan Bennett adding 17 and Blake Spellman scoring 16.
Suddenly, after a 3-5 record eight games into the season, Lee’s Summit was on a six-game winning streak heading into the conference opener Tuesday against Blue Springs.
“In the first 14 games, we’ve only had our top guys for four of them, so it’s been a process, but we’re getting there,” Little said. “The problem is everybody else is in midseason form, and we’re still in early-season form. We’ve got some catching up to do.”
They will have to do it in a hurry. Five of the six teams in the conference have winning records, with state-ranked and unbeaten Blue Springs South seen as the league favorite. But Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar have combined to lose only three games this season and won’t be easy foes, either.
“There’s not an easy game left on the schedule,” Little said. “That’s the whole key — being ready to play every single night. It’s a real challenge. You can’t take a night off.”
Games of the week
Staley at Fort Osage, 7 p.m. Tuesday
With four teams sitting three games above .500 or better, the Suburban White Conference could offer the most intriguing race this season. That race begins to heat up this week with the seven teams entering the meat of the league schedule.
Liberty North and Raytown are playing their most consistent basketball of the season, but Staley could be a darkhorse candidate in the league.
If the Bears want to throw themselves in the mix for contention, however, they’re going to have to prove an ability to win on the road. They are just 1-2 in true road games this season and 5-1 on their home floor.
A trip to Fort Osage on Tuesday will be the first of four straight road games for Staley, which follows with visits to Oak Park, William Chrisman and Liberty North.
Fort Osage has won two of its past three games after a rough start to the season. Aron Greer leads the team with 13.1 points per game this season.
Blue Springs South at Blue Springs, 7 p.m. Friday
The opening week of Suburban Gold Conference play ends with a slate of rivalry games. None of them, however, are bigger than the matchup in Blue Springs.
Highly-anticipated? Sure. High-octane? You bet.
While Blue Springs South senior forward Kevin Puryear will draw the bulk of the attention Friday, both teams like to play fast, and they possess the guard play to make it happen.
Blue Springs South, unbeaten through its first 14 games, features a backcourt led by K.J. Robinson and Brandon Kilgore. Blue Springs will counter with Taysean Goodwin, Kirk Finley, Tyree King and Justin Hall, all of whom can play in the backcourt.
The Wildcats’ have lost only one game — an overtime defeat to Liberty — and they immediately responded with the season’s most dramatic victory. They defeated Park Hill, 64-63, when King hit a three-point in the final seconds, igniting a five-game winning streak.