Midway through the first quarter, undefeated Park Hill was in so much trouble against undefeated Center that Park Hill coach Chad Jones called three of his five timeouts.
Jones needed to figure something out as Center scored 15 straight points and built a 12-point lead. The solution was a 2-3 zone with 6-foot-10 sophomore center Roman Wilson as the rim protector. Wilson finished with eight blocks.
Behind the slashing guard play of junior Ronnie Bell and senior Dru Smith, Park Hill forged a one-point halftime lead and slowly expanded its lead in the second half.
When the final buzzer sounded, Park Hill came away with a 54-42 victory on Thursday evening at the Mabee Center in the 37th Annual Holiday Basketball Tournament at William Jewell.
“A lot of sports in high school are about overcoming adversity and believing in yourself and your teammates,” Jones said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. The defense they played in the last three quarters was tremendous after being down in the first quarter.”
Park Hill, 9-0, will face Raytown, 6-1, at 7:15 p.m. Friday in the Patterson Division championship game. Center, which dropped to 7-1, will take on Blue Springs South in the third-place game.
The game started with Park Hill scoring the first three points. Center then went to its fullcourt trapping defense that produced turnovers that the Yellowjackets turned into points. They built a 15-3 lead.
“They had a bunch of energy, and we came out lackadaisical,” said Bell, who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. “After the timeouts, we came together. This was our game. We had to pick it up and match their intensity.”
The zone defense slowed the Yellowjackets down. By the end of the first quarter, Center held a 17-11 advantage.
Park Hill kept plugging away and regained the lead 19-17 on a three-point play by Bell. The lead changed four more times in the second quarter. Smith gave the Trojans a 26-25 lead at halftime on a driving layup.
A three-pointer by Rachaad White gave Center a 28-26 lead at the start of the third quarter. Over the next four minutes, there were four ties. The last at 34-34.
Park Hill scored the last eight points in the third quarter. Four different Trojans scored during that run, and it allowed Park Hill to take a 42-34 lead into the fourth quarter. The Trojans quickly increased their lead to double digits and were never threatened the rest of the way.
Center shot 19.4 percent in the second half and scored 17 points.
“Our defensive intensity was nice in the second half,” Bell said.
Blue Springs 65, Park Hill South 60
Blue Springs took its first lead in the second half when Tyree King hit a three-pointer with 1 minute, 12 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 61-60 lead. King added a free throw with 30 seconds left, and Daniel Parker Jr. put the game away when he made two free throws with 13 seconds left.
Blue Springs, 5-3, will take on Lee’s Summit West at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Nelson Division championship game. Parker scored 20 in the victory and King added 19.
Lee’s Summit West 66, Oak Park 47
Lee’s Summit West took a 32-20 lead into halftime and quickly answered every brief run by Oak Park. For instance, Oak Park closed to 34-29 early in the third quarter and less than three minutes later, Lee’s Summit West, 7-0, had a double-digit lead again at 41-29.
Lee’s Summit West senior forward Elijah Childs led the Titans 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Raytown 70, Blue Springs South 62
Leading 25-23 at halftime, Raytown came out in the third quarter blistering hot. It started with back-to-back three-pointers by Bryan Blanks and Marcus McGee. Isiah Burton followed with two straight field goals, and then Blanks capped the 12-0 run with two free throws. Raytown scored those 12 points in under two minutes.
Blue Springs South spent the rest of the second half trying to close the 14-point deficit. The Jaguars got within four at 44-40 late in the third quarter, but they never got closer.
Burton led Raytown with 25 points, and Blanks added 17. Cameron Roustic scored 17 for Blue Springs South and Jared Ravencamp added 16.
Thursday’s day-session games
North Kansas City 65, Liberty 58
Midway through the third quarter, Liberty held a 48-40 lead and appeared in control. North Kansas City changed the momentum, scoring the last eight points in the quarter and tied the game.
The Hornets continued their run in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 or the next 16 points for a 61-51 lead. Liberty never recovered from the 21-3 run and lost for the first time this season.
North Kansas City, 9-1, will play St. Joseph Central, 9-1, at 9 p.m. Friday in the Cardinal Division championship game.
St. Joseph Central 46, Grandview 42
Both teams came into the Cardinal Division semifinal game with only one loss. St. Joseph Central used a strong second quarter to put Grandview in a deep hole. It took Grandview nearly five minutes into the second quarter to score its first point in the quarter. By that time, St. Joe Central held a 22-10 lead and that grew to 35-20 late in the third quarter.
Grandview fought back and closed to 44-42 and had the ball with less than a minute left. St. Joe Central made three defensive stops. Two free throws by Jaiden Bristol with 10 seconds left put the game away.
Lee’s Summit 56, William Chrisman 46
Lee’s Summit held William Chrisman to four points in the fourth quarter to close out a double-digit victory. Senior Delshaun Presley led Lee’s Summit with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Lee’s Summit will play Truman at 10 a.m. Friday in the Cardinal Division fifth-place game.
Truman 48, Raymore-Peculiar 42
Max Titus scored 12 and teammate Keaton Wiley added 11, helping Truman defeat Raymore-Peculiar. Truman held Raymore-Peculiar to 13 points in the first half.