The only time Park Hill South felt the momentum slip away in its 81-62 victory over Lincoln Prep occurred early in the third quarter Tuesday afternoon at the Mabee Center.
Park Hill South gave up two quick baskets that cut into its 20-point lead in a Nelson Division first-round game at the 37th annual William Jewell Holiday Classic high school basketball tournament.
Although the Panthers were never in danger of losing the lead, Park Hill South coach Dan Parra called a timeout. The Panthers responded. Five points in under a minute from sophomore guard Lamel Robinson restored order by pushing Park Hill South’s lead to 48-27.
“We just had to focus in and play together,” said Robinson, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “We had to gather our composure and go out there and play hard.”
The Panthers, 7-2, cruised the rest of the way. By the time the third quarter ended, Park Hill South held a 66-38 lead.
Park Hill South used a balanced attack to build and maintain its lead.
“It showed the chemistry we have,” Robinson said of the balanced scoring. “We play together. We play as one.”
In the first half, five players scored six or more points. Senior Jacob Kline drilled a couple of three pointers. Sophomore forward CJ Lee came off the bench and made three field goals in the paint. Sophomore point guard Desi Williams had four assists and also scored eight points. It all added up to the Panthers carrying a 41-23 lead into halftime.
“I was very pleased with the balanced scoring,” Parra said. “We had been at the point where Lamel gets the ball a lot and everybody kind of watches him.
“I made it a point to take him out early and get other people involved and get good shots. Jacob and Desi did a pretty good job of keeping everything moving.”
Blue Springs 59, Kearney 52
Locked in a tight game, Blue Springs took full advantage of a break that came its way with 3 minutes left against Kearney.
Senior guard Tyree King drove to the basket and was fouled. Before shooting his free throws, a technical was called on a Kearney player. King made four straight free throws and the Wildcats retained possession of the basketball.
Blue Springs scored again on a field goal by junior Daniel Parker Jr. The six-point possession gave the Wildcats a five-point lead and carried them to a 59-52 victory.
“I had to help my team out some way because I really didn’t have a good game,” said King, who finished with seven points and eight rebounds. “As a senior, you are not too wowed up about it. You hit the free throws and do what you have to do.”
Blue Springs, 4-3, will face Park Hill South at 9 p.m. Thursday in a Nelson Division semifinal game.
The one blunder by Kearney nullified a gritty effort by the Bulldogs. Kearney fell behind 12-2 in the first quarter, causing coach Kirk Stegeman to call two timeouts. It worked. Kearney went into halftime ahead 25-24.
On the strength of slashing play by senior guard Dylan Ritz, Kearney increased its lead to 36-28 midway through the third quarter.
“Kearney executed,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said. “Kearney did a really good job on both sides of the floor. They scouted us well and took away some of the things we wanted to do out of our initial sets.”
Blue Springs slowly fought its way back. Parker played tough all game for the Wildcats, finishing with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. It was two free throws by Parker with a little more than 4 minutes left that put the Wildcats back in front at 47-46.
Kearney responded with a basket from Ritz that gave the Bulldogs their last lead at 48-47. Less than a minute later, the technical came. Kearney didn’t have enough time to recover from it.
“We talked about that with our guys,” Jones said. “I know coach Stegeman is upset with that technical. That kid had played a great game for them. It was an unfortunate call, but that kind of set the tone for us to finish off the game.”
Lee’s Summit West 65, Smithville 31
Lee’s Summit West, the No. 1 seed in the Nelson Division, received 15 points from junior Christian Bishop in its victory.
The Titans, who had four players score in double figures, will play Oak Park at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinal.
Oak Park 67, Rockhurst 58
Junior guard Ochai Agbaji scored 30 points on 10 of 12 shooting from the field and led Oak Park to a win over Rockhurst in the Nelson Division.
Leading the way for Rockhurst was senior Chris Teahan, who scored 17 points.
Blue Springs South 54, Fort Osage 48
Looking for its first win of the season, Fort Osage gave a spirited effort and trailed by one point entering the fourth quarter. Blue Springs South scored the first eight points in the final quarter and rode them to a six-point victory in the Patterson Division.
Junior Ethan Swanegan led Blue Springs South with 12 points.
Raytown 72, Winnetonka 35
Isiah Burton knocked down three three-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points, leading Raytown to a double-digit victory in the Patterson Division.
Raytown led 38-18 at halftime and continued to play well in the second half.
Center 77, Liberty North 45
Center hit Liberty North with a fast-break offense and a full-court trapping defense in the first quarter and raced to a 12-point lead in the Patterson Division.
By halftime, the Yellowjackets led 49-19 and senior Franck Kamgain already had 18 points, missing only one field-goal attempt in eight shots.
Park Hill 73, East 34
Park Hill took a 44-17 lead into halftime and cruised to an easy victory.
The win set up a gigantic Patterson Division semifinal game between Park Hill and Center at 6 p.m. Thursday. Park Hill is 8-0, and Center is 7-0.
Senior Dru Smith led Park Hill with 14 points and junior Ronnie Bell added 11.