Shawnee Mission North celebrates first boys basketball title in 63 years
The celebration spilled into the student section, with a group of Shawnee Mission North basketball players jumping into mob of teenagers dressed in bright red and burgundy.
Nearly 50 feet away, twin brothers Marcus and Michael Weathers recognized the significance of the moment in their own manner.
With a hug.
“We finally got one,” Michael said.
It’s been a long wait.
Shawnee Mission North captured the first boys basketball state championship in 63 years on Saturday, pulling away from Wichita Southeast for an 80-56 victory in the Kansas Class 6A state tournament at Charles Koch Arena.
“We’re on the map now, right?” Shawnee Mission North coach Steve Stitzer joked.
A smooth-sailing two-way effort led to the Indians’ 13th consecutive victory to close out the season.
The Weathers twins combined for 46 points, with Michael leading all scorers with 26. Avante Williams added 20 points.
“We talked about this (since) our freshman year,” Marcus said. “We (wondered) what it would be like to lead this team to a state championship. We were able to accomplish that goal.”
After they spotted Wichita Southeast nine points, no less.
Senior Jerrick Harding hit two threes in the first 89 seconds, before Jauan Manns added another to supply Wichita Southeast with a 9-0 lead only 2:06 into the game.
The lead evaporated nearly as quickly as it materialized.
Shawnee Mission North, 21-4, finished the half on an extended 37-18 run, highlighted by its transition offense and swarming defense on Harding. After scoring 81 points in the first two games of the state tournament in Wichita, Harding settled for a comparatively quiet 22 points on Saturday. And Israel Barnes required 20 shots to score 14 points.
The duo combined for 66 points in a semifinal win Friday against Lawrence. They shot eight of 34 a day later.
“They hadn’t played against our defense yet,” Stitzer said. “Our kids play hard defense. That’s what it came down to. We defended those guys and wore them out. Everything else took care of itself.”
The frantic defense held Wichita Southeast to 26 percent shooting, and it led to a series of layups on the other end of the floor. The Weathers brothers attacked the rim on nearly every possession before Marcus fouled out with 4:47 remaining.
Shawnee Mission North shot 62.5 percent for the game.
“We got down early and that could’ve got to our heads, but we told ourselves to keep our composure,” Michael said. “We’ve been in that situation before and lost our composure. This time, we (relied) on our defense. That carried us.”