After getting smacked in the mouth for one quarter, Grandview smacked back.
Sikeston came out swinging to start the Missouri Class 4 boys basketball semifinal and quickly put Grandview in an 11-point hole. But Grandview battled back, and with some clutch shots and defensive stops the Bulldogs eked out a 59-56 victory Saturday night at JQH Arena.
Grandview (28-3) will get to play for the first state basketball title in the school’s history, and the Bulldogs will do so against a familiar foe. Raytown South made it an all-Kansas City final by holding off Jennings 61-57 in the nightcap semifinal
Raytown South is making its first appearance in the final since its fourth and final title in 1990 under legendary coach Bud Lathrop. And Grandview wouldn’t be a part of this matchup if hadn’t put on an impressive display of grit in a pulsating, back-and-forth game.
“I was really excited about the mental toughness my team exemplified there,” Grandview coach Reggie Morris said. “I told them it’s a game of runs and the team that’s the toughest at the end will get to move and advance to the championship."
Sikeston’s Bulldogs (27-3) hit Grandview’s Bulldogs with a quick, aggressive offense led by Fred Thatch. A 6-foot-3 senior guard, Thatch punished Grandview for 21 points and 13 rebounds. Thatch had two three-pointers and a jumper as Sikeston rolled out to a 13-2 lead midway through the first quarter.
Sikeston led 23-10 after the first quarter but Grandview trimmed that lead to 31-26 by halftime. And that was even after Sikeston shot 60 percent from the field in the first half while Grandview was a chilly 28.6 percent.
“I was glad that they did that early and not in the second half,” Morris said. “That allowed us to battle possession by possession and find a way to win.”
Sikeston still led 46-40 going into the fourth quarter, but Grandview opened the period with a 7-0 run and took its first lead on two free throws by Eze Kamto.
Sikeston regained a five-point lead, but Grandview tied it 53-53 on a steal and breakaway slam from Jordan Lathon.
Thatch overthrew an outlet pass on Sikeston’s next possession, and Grandview took the lead for good on a three-pointer from Deandre Sorrells with 1:29 to play. Sorrells, who added two game-sealing free throws with 7 seconds left, led Grandview with 17 points.
And Grandview could breathe a sigh of relief after winning in its first final four appearance since 2009.
“We’re just happy and blessed to advance tomorrow to the championship game,” Morris said.
Raytown South 61, Jennings 57
Unlike Grandview, Raytown South (25-5) led from beginning to end in its first state semifinal since 2003. But the Cardinals still had their struggles against Jennings’ speed-it-up attack. Ray-South shot well, but 19 turnovers muddied their game.
“It was as ugly a game, especially in the second half, as you can have it,” Ray-South coach Aaron Ihm said. “It was not clean, and we pride ourselves in being clean with a lot of things.”
Ray-South jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 10 in the first half. But the Cardinals managed only three points in the third quarter as Jennings battled back for a 34-34 tie going into the fourth.
Ihm brought in Marquise Allen late in the third quarter, and the 5-foot-8 senior guard settled and sparked the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. Allen, who transferred from Grandview, found Caleb Jones-McCrary in the lane for a breakaway slam that capped a 7-0 run opening the quarter and set him up for another basket as Ray-South took the lead for good.
“There’s got to be a specific role for him,” Ihm said of Allen. “Some games it’ a little tough because he’s undersized, but he’s got that toughness, he’s got that heart.”
Jones-McCrary’s 15 points led Ray-South, which also got 14 points from Jamar Madge and 13 from Sevon Witt.
Kyle Younge Jr. had 19 points for Jennings, including four three-pointers in the final minute to keep things close.
Rock Bridge 68, Liberty 47
Things started out bad for Liberty and never got better in the Class 5 third-place game.
Columbia Rock Bridge smacked the Blue Jays with a 16-4 game-opening run and maintained a double-digit lead most of the game as Liberty struggled to find its shots. Liberty shot a chill 31 percent (10-for-32) in the first half and 33 percent for the game.
Liberty senior guard Jalen Lewis, one night after shredding Webster Groves for eight three-pointers and 40 points, couldn’t match that performance against speedy Rock Bridge. Lewis, Liberty’s career scoring leader, was 2 for 10 from the field and 0 for five from three-point range in the first half and finished with 15 points.
Rock Bridge (28-2) countered with Isiah Mosley, who riddled the Blue Jays for 24 points and 10 rebounds. Liberty managed to close within eight after the third quarter, but Rock Bridge opened the fourth with a 13-3 run and put it away.