North boys drop third straight
The Indian offense went dry at the wrong time.
A game plan of neutralizing Shawnee Mission East’s height advantage through employing the use of their own team speed worked well for the Shawnee Mission North boys basketball team through most of Friday night. However, a three-minute stretch of poor shooting and decision-making cost the Indians dearly, as East went on a 10-0 spurt and held off North the rest of the way, claiming a 50-44 win at North Fieldhouse.
“Right now,” said North head coach B.J. Hair after the game, “we’re not very good offensively. You can’t make bad decisions offensively against a team like Shawnee Mission East because they’ll make you pay. We did a pretty good job of using our speed early on — I wish we’d use it more; but we just have to be more consistent.”
Both teams started tentatively, with each offense prodding the other side’s defense for weaknesses. North got off to a quick start when senior guard Lloyd Young IV scored on a driving, left baseline layup in the opening minute. East answered right back with a traditional three-point play pulled off by senior post Zach Schneider, but then neither team could score for nearly the next three minutes. East notched their lead up to three twice after that, but when North senior guard Sean Wilkes hit a trey from the right side with just over two minutes left in the first quarter, the Indians had taken a 9-7 lead. The Lancers responded by scoring the next four points and a pair of Schneider free throws with 53 seconds left in the period gave East an 11-9 lead after one quarter.
It turns out the first quarter was merely a preview of the back-and-forth action of the second frame. In the second quarter, the lead changed hands 10 times (13 times overall in the first half) as both teams wrangled for the upper hand. The action, at times, was frenetic as the Indians and the Lancers traded baskets. Six different North players scored during the second quarter while East junior post Billy Sutherland scored 11 of the Lancers 13 points in the period. However, it was a pair of free throws from East senior wing Vance Wentz that gave the Lancers a 24-23 advantage going into the halftime locker room.
Neither team could score in the opening three minutes of the second half as both teams were plagued by turnovers. However, North sophomore post Scott Johnson sparked the Indians with a halfcourt steal and subsequent layup to give North a 25-24 edge. That lead increased to three moments later when Wilkes converted on a left baseline hanger with 4:08 left.
East head coach Shawn Hair called a timeout to settle his squad and it appeared to pay off. Schneider responded by sinking a right corner three off a Wentz assist to tie the game, then East went ahead as junior guard Chase Hanna hit a one-hander in the lane off a dish from senior point guard Andy Hiett. Still, Young was ready with the response for the Indians when his driving one-handed floater notched the game at 29-29 with two-and-a-half minutes left to play in the quarter.
That’s when East went off on their decisive 10-0 run. The Lancers scored the last eight points of the period as North continued to turn the ball over and come up with empty offensive possessions. The end of the quarter was punctuated when East senior guard Henry Simpson stole the ball at halfcourt and then dished to Hiett for a layup as the third quarter expired, giving East a 37-29 lead.
Wentz twice gave East their biggest lead of 10 in the opening minutes of the final period, but North wasn’t done and continued to battle. However, they had to do it without Young, who — to that point — had scored 11 of North’s 29 points.
“Lloyd tweaked his ankle toward the end of the (third) quarter,” B.J. Hair said. “He wanted to go, but he just felt like he couldn’t push off on it, and with Lloyd being so athletic, he’s got to feel 100 percent confident when he pushes off. It would have been nice to have him. The good news is that he’ll have the entire break to get better and we have one of the best trainers around to work on him.”
In Young’s absence, Wilkes began to take over. A three from the right side (off an assist from fellow senior guard Dane Gray) cut the lead to seven. Wilkes then stole the ball on the next East possession and went the length of the court for the layup to make it 41-36 Lancers with just under six minutes remaining. A minute-and-a-half later, Wilkes drained another three off an assist from junior guard Cavasiia Hampton, and the score was 43-39 with just under four minutes yet to play. Indians senior post Jordan Thompson cut that lead to three with a jumper in the lane off a dish from senior wing Jeffrey Martin, and the score was 44-41 with two minutes remaining. However, East’s height advantage paid dividends for the Lancers down the stretch as they were able to get to more boards than North, forcing the Indians to foul. East hit just enough of their chances from the charity stripe to keep North at arm’s length the rest of the way, and claimed a six-point victory.
Wilkes led the way offensively for the Indians with 15 points, four rebounds, four steals, and two assists. Young added 11 points, while Gray added six points and two boards.
The loss was the third in a row for North after opening the season with back-to-back wins. Still, Hair was upbeat about the way his team performed.
“We held one of the best offensive teams in the Sunflower League to 50 points,” stated Hair. “We should be proud of that.”