As grand finales go, this one was a doozy.
Lawrence Free State’s Garrett Luinstra ended the 810 Varsity Tipoff Classic’s five-game slate in thrilling style, stealing a pass and hitting a layup at the buzzer Dec. 2 to beat host Liberty 75-73.
The Blue Jays were inbounding the ball after the Firebirds had tied the back-and-forth game with a free throw with 7 seconds left.
Liberty got the ball close to midcourt before Luinstra intercepted a cross-court pass and turned into an uncontested layup for the last of his 36 points.
“At first when I caught it, I was looking at the time, and I saw there was 3 seconds left, so I just kept going and put it in,” Luinstra told 810 Varsity. “It was crazy. It all happened so fast.”
Luinstra’s heroics overshadowed a solid effort from Liberty senior guard Jalen Lewis, who finished with 25 points and five assists. The Blue Jays also got 12 points from Logan Steenstra, 11 points apiece from Grant Stubbs and Nate Gray and 10 points from Brock Matson.
Park Hill South and Blue Springs were locked in a tight battle earlier in the evening before the Panthers pulled away for a 79-65 victory.
Park Hill South took control in the fourth quarter, opening with a 21-5 run after the two teams finished the first three periods tied 49-49. Lamel Robinson scored five straight points to open the period and CJ Lee tallied nine.
“That’s something we didn’t do in the past very well, is close out games,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra told 810 Varsity. “To go on a run early in the fourth and make them catch up to us the rest of the way, that’s what we want to do.”
Robinson, a 5-11 junior guard, led all scorers with 23 points.
Lee had 11 points and Saadique Perkins had 12 for the Park Hill South, which started its season 2-0.
There was no such suspense for Liberty’s girls, who rolled to a 79-16 victory against Washington before the Blue Jays boys’ thriller.
Liberty senior Kayel Newland broke the Blue Jays’ career three-point record when she recorded her 151st trey.
Lee’s Summit North began the day by pulling away to a 55-39 victory against St. Joseph Central, while Lee’s Summit, powered by Will Eames’ seven-straight three pointers and 31 points, rolled past Shawnee Mission North 82-54.