Raytown is finding its basketball groove at the William Jewell Holiday Classic.
The Blue Jays entered the basketball tournament searching for their first victory of the season. After beating Rockhurst 65-46 Monday evening in a Patterson Division semifinal game, Raytown has a modest two-game winning streak.
“We stayed together as a team,” said Raytown senior Jailen Gill, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. “We are trying to bounce back from our losses. This is a new start to our winning streak.”
The Blue Jays, 2-5, will try to make it three straight when they play in the Patterson Division title game at 9 tonight.
Raytown played composed throughout, even when it faced a 15-10 deficit late in the first quarter and trailed 26-24 at halftime.
“We only had a couple issues early when they made a run at us,” Raytown coach Cody Buford said. “We had six turnovers for the game. That is the lowest turnovers we have had last year and this year.”
The Blue Jays methodically took control of the game in the third quarter. A three-point play by senior Brandon Sublett gave Raytown a 29-26 lead. Senior John Burton followed with a three-pointer, making it 32-26.
“They are a great team and well coached,” Buford said of Rockhurst. “I have a lot of respect for coach (Pete) Campbell. He always has his team ready to play.”
Rockhurst briefly stopped the run on a three-pointer by senior Cartier Dean. Undaunted, the Blue Jays scored the next nine points for a commanding 41-29 lead.
It was a dominating effort by Raytown on offense and defense in the third quarter. The Blue Jays outscored Rockhurst 17-5 and went into the final quarter with a 41-31 lead.
Raytown maintained control throughout the fourth quarter. The play of Gill and Derrick Walker on the inside and Burton, Sublett and Will Nelson on the perimeter created match-up problems for the Hawklets.
“We were patient enough,” Buford said. “Derrick did a great job of posting hard and getting them into a little bit of foul trouble. We made enough shots and made some tough shots. Our kids had good energy the whole game.”
Nelson led Raytown with 18 points and Sublett added 15. Dean scored 17 for Rockhurst.