Late in the first quarter, St. Thomas Aquinas senior forward Adam Kutney suffered an ankle injury after scoring a basket. The Saints trailed by only three but appeared to be in trouble against Lee’s Summit West, especially the way Titans senior Jarred Dixon was playing.
Dixon scored all 10 points for the Titans in the first quarter. Aquinas junior forward Riley Pint topped that and then some, putting on a second-quarter show that was the highlight performance Friday evening at the 20th annual Hy-Vee Shootout.
Pint scored 21 points in the second quarter, lifting Aquinas to a 12-point halftime lead. The Saints rode that advantage to a 65-55 victory at Avila University.
Aquinas, 3-0, needed the spark from Pint when Kutney went down and didn’t return. Kutney entered the game with a 15-point scoring average.
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“The first thing I thought when he got hurt was I hope it is not serious because he has worked so hard,” said Aquinas coach Sean Riley. “I told the trainer to make the decision because I am the coach and I am going to want him to play. She said, ‘I don’t think it would be in his best interest to play.’ ”
Pint took over.
“I was thinking we needed to calm down because we were rushing,” Pint said. “We needed to slow down and run our offense.”
Pint started his remarkable second quarter with a NBA-range three-pointer that gave the Saints a 13-10 lead. He followed it with another long-range three-pointer, giving the Saints a 16-12 lead.
“I was thinking they weren’t coming out on me, so I just shot it,” Pint said.
Perhaps the most pivotal moment in his high-scoring second quarter was when he had an open look just beyond the arc and instead of shooting, he drove to the basket and was fouled. He made both free throws.
“I was shooting too many threes, and I needed to drive to the hole more,” said Pint, who finished with a game-high 32 points. “This was probably one of my best games I have had in high school. It felt pretty good.”
Pint spent the rest of the second quarter going inside. He either made the basket or was fouled and made most of his free throws. He was 11 for 12 from the line in the second quarter. He went into halftime with 24 points as the Saints held a 38-26 lead.
“I wish we could can it and bring it back when we need it,” Riley said of Pint’s performance. “He had a magnificent second quarter.”
Pint’s teammates took over from there. Riley credited the defensive play of senior Cole Friedman on Dixon in the fourth quarter as another key. Dixon played well and finished with 30 points.
Still, Pint stole the show, and basketball is not even his best sport.
“He is the No. 1 baseball prospect in the country, and he is just a junior,” Riley said. “He has already committed to play baseball at LSU. He doesn’t have to play basketball.”
Pint admitted baseball is his favorite sport. But he definitely enjoyed Friday night’s basketball game at Avila.
McPherson 76, O’Hara 64
In the first half, McPherson boys basketball team put on an offensive clinic in fastbreak basketball against O’Hara.
The Bullpups sprinted down the court for easy layups. They were also sharp in their halfcourt offense, making backdoor cuts for layups. And when that was taken away, they hit three-pointers.
McPherson shot 73 percent from the field and built a 22-point halftime lead. It was more than enough cushion for McPherson to cruise to the victory.
McPherson remained undefeated, improving to 5-0 and O’Hara dropped to 6-2.
For much of the first quarter, O’Hara matched McPherson’s offensive efficiency. McPherson sprinted to a 15-8 lead. The Celtics quickly bounced back and scored the next six.
The first quarter did not end well for O’Hara. Junior Drew Pyle made three straight three-pointers, giving McPherson a 24-14 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Celtics, who went into halftime down 49-27, played much better in the second half. They closed to 72-64 with 1 minute left.
Junior Nick Naudet led O’Hara with 19 points and junior Dezmond McDaniel added 14.