Lee’s Summit West sophomore guard Mario Goodrich was a ball of energy all game against St. Joseph Central on Tuesday evening in a Nelson Division semifinal game.
But when the moment called for calm in a tied game with 15 seconds left, Goodrich coolly stepped up and drained two free throws. The free throws helped the Titans pull out a 59-56 victory at the William Jewell Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament.
“I knew my team needed me to knock down free throws and be able to come through in the clutch,” said Goodrich, who finished with 15 points.
Lee’s Summit West, 6-2, will play 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Nelson Division championship. That spot looked inevitable for the Titans early in the third quarter when they built a 35-23 lead.
The combination of Goodrich’s all-out hustle and the inside play of 6-foot-7 junior forward Elijah Childs proved to be a difficult matchup for St. Joseph Central. Childs finished with a team-high 18 points.
Central, though, never became discouraged. By late in the third quarter, some of the Indians’ shots started to fall, and by midway in the fourth quarter they took a brief 50-49 lead.
“We knew we had to fight hard,” Goodrich said. “We knew they were going to come out with energy and try to come back. We watched them on film, and they played hard. We knew we had to answer it.”
The Titans went back in front on two free throws by senior Joe Ganaden. Lee’s Summit West increased its lead to 53-50 on two more free throws by Goodrich. The game was tied at 56-56 when Goodrich knocked down his final two free throws, going seven for eight from the line for the game.