Patrick Richey spent a recent weekend hobnobbing with his fellow former University of Kansas basletball stars.
One week later, he found himself inside Lee’s Summit High School’s iconic Fieldhouse for a reunion that wasn’t as a high-profile but was meaningful just the same.
“These are the guys I grew up with,” Richey said, “and these are the guys that molded my childhood. These are the guys that, when I was young and naïve and didn’t know anything about life, that I was hanging out with.”
Richey played in two Final Fours during his Jayhawks days, but before that he was playing for state championships during one of the most celebrated periods of Lee’s Summit basketball.
He was back in the old gym Feb. 9 for a ceremony recognizing the 30th anniversary of the state-final runs for the 1988 Tigers boys’ and girls’ teams. Ten members of the 1988 boys’ team and seven from the girls’ squad were honored with their coaches and managers before the Tigers’ game that night against Lee’s Summit North.
Lee’s Summit’s boys, under Glen McDonald, took a 28-0 record into the 1988 Class 4A state championship game before losing 63-49 against a powerful Vashon team from St. Louis.
Lee’s Summit’s girls, under Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee Larry Jansen, went 28-2 before losing to DeSoto 46-44 in the 4A girls’ final.
McDonald and Jansen were both on hand, as they are for most Lee’s Summit home games these days. Richey joined Chris Guinty, Steve Hardin, Chad Morehead, Darren Phillips, Brad Phillips, Mike Jenkins and Glen Hendricks from the boys’ team along with Brenda Weddle Helbring. She represented her late brother, Jason Weddle.
Stacie Guenther, Robin Campbell, Julie Pinson Glodowski, Janie Weaver, Jody Turney, Staci Schumacher, Dayna Carter, Cindy Bricker, Heather Oberrider and Sonya Harlin represented the girls’ team.
Richey was a sophomore on that 1988 boys’ team and came off the bench. He also was an integral part of the 1990 team that went 26-3 and reached the 4A state quarterfinals his senior year, but that sophomore season still remains special to him.
“Cool thing about that team was that everybody was organically developed,” Richey said. “Everybody was from Lee’s Summit. When we played Vashon in the state championship, they had kids from all over.”
Richey remembers beating Blue Springs, the Tigers’ biggest rival in the days when they were the only high school in town, three times that season. But it’s the battle with Vashon at the Hearnes Center in Columbia that still sticks out in his mind.
“They were the top team in the state and they had eight or nine Division-I kids on that team,” said Richey, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward who played at KU from 1990-1994. “It was a good experience for me to realize what it was going to take to play big-boy ball.”
McDonald, who coached at Lee’s Summit for 11 seasons, still remembers an unselfish team that always found a way to win. He also recalled having to loosen them up as they felt the pressure build while the wins piled up.
After one particularly lackluster game late in the season, McDonald outlined a grueling, 3 1/2 -hour schedule for the next practice. The schedule, it turned out, was done tongue-in-cheek.
“I told them I didn’t think we were being bad on purpose; we just need to loosen up,” McDonald said. “We only practiced for a short time that night and they felt good about it. I think we got a little looser after that.”
The atmosphere at the school became more electric as the two teams kept winning, too. When they went to Warrensburg for the quarterfinals, more than 5,000 fans packed the Multipurpose Building on the University of Central Missouri campus.
“I still get goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Jansen, who compiled a 446-123 record in 21 seasons coaching the Lee’s Summit’s girls.
It still remains a thrill for Glodowski, who went on to play for Murray State in Kentucky. Glodowski, who now lives in Dayton, Ohio, also was happy to have a chance to see her old coach and teammates again.
“A lot of these people I haven’t seen for the 30 years after we graduated and all went our own direction,” Glodowski said. “I haven’t seen them for a long time, but when you do see them, no time has passed. It’s really nice.”
Richey, who lives in Olathe, also enjoyed seeing old faces and swapping stories again. Many of those stories carry as much meaning for him as anything he accomplished on college basketball’s bigger stage.
“I’ve got some Final Four experiences I get to share when I go to KU, but I got a state championship opportunity here at Lee’s Summit,” Richey said. “And I’m very thankful for both.”