Even after coming up just short against a crosstown and conference rival, Lee’s Summit North boys basketball coach Mike Hilbert couldn’t get too upset Tuesday night — not after being part of a game this riveting.
Hilbert’s Broncos lost 79-77 against Lee’s Summit in front of a near-capacity crowd in North’s gym during a back-and-forth game that went down to the final seconds.
Sure, Hilbert hated taking the loss, but he loved the intensity and effort put out by both teams.
“That was a fantastic high school basketball game, a see-saw affair that had a little drama at the end,” Hilbert said. “Fun to be a part of it; fun to coach it.”
It surely was fun watching North guard Javaunte Hawkins, who poured in a game-high 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting from the field. Hawkins, who had been slowed by a wrist injury he suffered against Park Hill South before the holiday break, made 4 of 9 three-pointers and scored 20 points before halftime.
Lee’s Summit countered with a 26-point night from forward Will Eames and 19 points from guard Seth Romi, who hit 4 of 8 from three-point range.
But while Hawkins was hot from the get-go, Eames and Romi didn’t get rolling until the second half — and neither did the rest of the Tigers.
Lee’s Summit (8-4, 3-0 Suburban Gold) made only 3 of 15 shots during the first quarter and scored only 30 points in the first half.
That changed in the second half, with Romi firing from outside and Eames penetrating the Broncos’ zone defense, the Tigers tallied 49 points in the second half, including 28 in the third quarter alone.
“In our offense, we have to move with a purpose,” Lee’s Summit coach Blake Little said. “A big chunk of the game, we were kind of just moving. There wasn’t really a purpose to it. And all of a sudden, we found that purpose, found the shooters and everything opened up.”
Neither team shot well in the first quarter, which ended with North (5-5, 1-2 Suburban Gold) in front 11-8.
The Tigers led 23-20 midway through the second quarter before Hawkins warmed up and led an 11-3 run. He scored nine straight points during one stretch — two free throws, a layup, a drive off a steal and a three-pointer — in propelling the Broncos to a 36-30 halftime lead.
“Javaunte was definitely on fire from three,” Romi said. “It seemed like he couldn’t miss there for a while. We had to get clamps on him a little bit, and it wasn’t easy to do that.”
North stretched its lead to nine points before Lee’s Summit chipped away behind Eames, who only scored eight points in the first half, and Romi, who only had three.
The Broncos led 50-41 midway through the third period, but that lead evaporated during a 13-3 Tigers run. Romi started it with a three-pointer and ended it with an and-one, which put Lee’s Summit up for good 58-55 at the end of the third quarter.
“It’s tough to cover them,” Hilbert said. “You kind of have to pick your poison. We tried to make them shoot perimeter jump shots and they passed the ball well enough to get inside the zone, and Will had a big second half against us.”
But North wouldn’t go away quietly.
An and-one from Hawkins and two free throws from Logan Jenkins pulled the Broncos within 65-64 midway through the fourth quarter.
Lee’s Summit went back up 72-65 on a three by Trevor Langenbahn and a spin move in the lane by Eames, but the Broncos made it a 74-73 game when Hawkins turned a midcourt steal into a layup and later added a free throw.
North had a chance to take the lead after Deron McDaniel missed two free throws with 49 seconds left, but Hawkins missed on a drive in the lane. The Tigers made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and withstood a final three-point by Hawkins with eight seconds left.
McDaniel also reached double figures with 16 points for Lee’s Summit. Jenkins finished with 15 points for North and Elijah Farr added 14.
“It was a fun night of basketball,” Little said. “Whatever side you were cheering for, you got a lot of value for your buck tonight.”