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SM East forward averaging a double-double for second straight season

SM East’s Lucas Jones (foreground) will play a pivotal role in the Lancers’ stretch run of the basketball season.
SM East’s Lucas Jones (foreground) will play a pivotal role in the Lancers’ stretch run of the basketball season. Special to The Kansas City Star

Even though the Shawnee Mission East High School boys basketball team lost three starters from last year’s team, Lancers coach Shawn Hair came into this season with some confidence from one returner in particular.

It’s easy to see how he could get excited about Lucas Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward, who is averaging a double-double for the second straight season in the highly competitive Sunflower League. Hair even called Jones a steal, referring to his signing with Eastern Illinois earlier this season.

“He is a sponge when it comes to taking coaching and working on little things,” Hair said. “He has been able to stretch his outside game and can shoot threes now. He has a great ability to block shots, too.”

Hair pointed to Jones’ consistency as a big factor in the Lancers’ ability to get into a rhythm the last couple weeks after a rocky start. Jones’ 20 points sparked the Lancers to a 72-39 victory against SM Northwest last Friday, which Hair said was their best game so far.

“We put up 72 points, played well, got the ball out in transition and I think that has been a big key,” Hair said. “We needed to get the ball down the court more and that has been tough for us in grind-it-out games.”

Jones had some help from his teammate trio of experienced guards. Jay Guastello added 12 points, Jack Flint had eight and Gunnar Englund added six.

Now that the Lancers have a little offensive spark, Hair says it is time to turn their attention back to the defense, with three games left in the regular season.

“We have to be able to keep attacking the rim and pushing the ball with great team defense,” Hair said. “I think that has been a staple of ours all season — limiting teams to one shot.”

Games to watch

Lawrence at Olathe North, 7:00 p.m. Friday

This game could very well decide the Sunflower League champion, if Olathe North is able to pull off a minor upset.

As of Tuesday, the Chesty Lions were still the only team with a perfect league record. Lawrence has lost just once this season and that was to undefeated Wichita East.

Olathe North will be hungry, coming off their first league loss which they suffered in crushing fashion with a buzzer beater by Olathe East. It was only North’s third loss overall. The other two came against Gardner Edgerton and Emporia.

The Eagles present a balanced attack, with RJ Smith averaging 14.5 points and Alonzo Williams adding 11.7. Missouri football signee Josh Moore brings some physicality and averages 8.9 points per game.

Blue Valley Northwest at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Blue Valley Northwest has seemed to be finding its way during the last couple of weeks, having won two of its last three games.

That includes a 58-54 victory against St. Thomas Aquinas on Feb. 6, which the Huskies will look to repeat next Tuesday.

In that Feb. 6 game, the Huskies worked around a 19-point performance by Aquinas’ Adam Kutney with three double-digit scorers of their own. Dalton Schoen and James Atwood led the group, with 14 points apiece.

Blue Valley Northwest dropped a game to Gardner Edgerton, but pulled out a one-point victory against Bishop Miege on Friday.

Aquinas compounded the Blue Valley Northwest loss with a loss to Miege, but bounced back with a 61-38 victory against Blue Valley.

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