Shawnee Mission East went into the final quarter at SM North on Friday evening with only 36 points and down by 10. But the Lancers wound up winning 67-59.
It was a stunning turnaround.
“It is a great win,” said SM East coach Shawn Hair, whose team improved to 5-2.
“In the fourth quarter, we are down by 10, and things weren’t going our way. Momentum was totally on SM North side.
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“I just couldn’t be prouder of our kids. Our kids dug in the fourth quarter.”
Sparked by the 13 fourth-quarter points from senior guard Jack Flint, the Lancers clicked on all cylinders and scored 31 points in the final 8 minutes of the game.
“Coach told us to keep pushing the ball and things would go our way,” said Flint, who finished with 16 points for the game. “Finally, we had a few plays going down. Once we started hitting them we cut their lead a little each time.”
Things looked bleak for the Lancers, especially when they saw SM North junior Brandon Henderson bank in a three-pointer that gave the Indians a 41-29 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
SM East went into the fourth quarter trailing 46-36. But the Lancers scored the first six points in the period.
Then Flint came through with a four-point play that pulled SM East to within one at 50-49. SM East followed that with a three-point play by junior Joey Wentz, and the Lancers had their first lead since late in the first quarter.
Once the Lancers grabbed that lead at 52-50 lead, they never looked back. They made their first 12 free throws in the quarter, and senior forward Lucas Jones played strong inside. Jones made a basket that increased the Lancers lead to 60-53.
“When we got the lead, we put our foot on the gas,” Hair said.
SM North was in control throughout the second and third quarters behind the play of juniors Michael and Marcus Weathers, who combined for 39 points.
Besides the lift they got from Flint, Wentz and Jones, the Lancers also got a solid game from junior Jay Guastello, who scored a team-high 20. Wentz and Jones combined for 31 points.
“We had to get the ball inside,” Hair said. “We did a terrible job in the first half. Lucas Jones and Joey Wentz are two of the best inside players in the state. We got to get them touches, and we did a much better job in the second half.”
The nine lead changes in the first quarter were an early indication of just how competitive the game would be.
It wasn’t until SM North scored the last seven points in the opening quarter that the Indians gained some separation.
SM North opened the the second quarter with a 19-14 lead and increased it to 32-20. The Lancers made up some ground by scoring the final five points of the first half, but trailed 32-25 at halftime.