A nine-day break followed Lee’s Summit West’s worst loss of the season — a 22-point defeat against Blue Springs South in a William Jewell Holiday Classic championship game. The long layoff offered the Titans an unwelcomed chance to stew over a game that leading scorer Jarred Dixon called “a little embarrassing.”
But it also supplied them with a dose of motivation heading into the second half of the season.
“You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth,” Dixon said. “You just have to work hard in practice and win some games so you get over it and forget about it.”
The process of moving on began Friday.
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Lee’s Summit West returned in the New Year with a 59-56 win at Rockhurst, holding off a frantic fourth-quarter charge from the Hawklets in improving to 5-4.
Dixon led the Titans with 19 points and made six of eight fourth-quarter free throws to help seal the victory. Gary Davis added 14 points for the Titans.
“Sometimes there are a lot of lessons to be learning from losing, and I’m proud of the way these guys responded from that loss to Blue Springs South,” Titans coach Michael Schieber said. “I think we established an identity today and found a little bit of who we are. I think the guys played their guts out.”
That identity, as it turns out, is a bit unusual. Lee’s Summit West starts two freshmen — something Schieber says he has never done in his 11 seasons with the program — and its lineup doesn’t feature any starters taller than 6-feet-3.
That forces Dixon, a natural guard, to play center. But it also gives Lee’s Summit West a chance to spread the floor offensively and open driving lanes.
The strategy proved successful Friday when the Titans opened a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Rockhurst clawed its way back to within one point after applying its own full-court press. Adam Bowers hit a trio of three-pointers to ignite the comeback.
Rockhurst, 5-7, never grabbed a lead. Patrick Geha scored a game-best 20 points in the loss — with all of his production coming in the first three quarters.
“Our guys played really hard there in the fourth quarter and gave us a shot to maybe tie it or maybe even win it,” Rockhurst coach Peter Campbell said. “When your kids play hard, that’s all you can ask for. I liked our effort. We’re in the same district as Lee’s Summit West, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to get them again.”
To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SamMcDowell11.