Lawrence High outlasts SMNW boys basketball, 59-54
The wins have not been compiling for the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball team since its return to Sunflower League play Friday against Free State, but that has not been due to a lack of effort according to Cougars coach Mike Rose.
Fresh off of a road loss to the Firebirds, 59-58, the Cougars returned home Tuesday to take on Lawrence High and fell, 59-54.
Lawrence High senior point guard Justin Roberts returned to action for the first time since Jan. 22 when he dislocated his shoulder against Topeka High, and scored all of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Lions – who are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A with a 14-1 overall record.
"He sat out their last game that they played, so it took him a half to kind of get warmed up again," Rose said. "We weren't going to shut him down. He's a heck of a basketball player and I thought Dylan (Dirks) for the most part did a really good job on him."
Dirks defended Roberts for the majority of the game, and succeeded in limiting the Lawrence High guard from getting open looks during the first half, but the SM Northwest senior said that the Lions did a good job of helping him after the break.
"He started using his screens a lot more and started knocking them down," Dirks said.
Like Roberts, Dirks struggled out of the gates as well, and did not record his first field goal until the 1:35 mark in the third quarter. The basket came at a big time, though, as Dirks gathered in a rebound from a Ferdinand Handy 3-pointer that was off the mark and put it back in for the hoop and the harm to cut the Lions' lead to 40-38. Northwest junior Noah Kendall then tied in at 40-all in the opening minute of the fourth, but the Cougars (6-9 overall, 1-5 in Sunflower League play) were never able to grab the lead.
The Lions cashed in at the charity stripe by making 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter to put the Cougars away.
"Obviously, they're No. 1 for a reason, and they're a really good basketball team. I thought our kids, we were in it the whole night and competed well," Rose said. "Our kids got after it. It's another loss, so it frustrates the kids understandably, but that should give us some spark for coming back to practice tomorrow, getting after it and getting ready for Shawnee Mission East."
Handy, Dirks and senior Jalen LyDay all scored in double figures with 16, 11 and 10 points, respectively. The balanced offensive performance is another reason why Rose is not letting the Cougars' third straight loss get him down.
"We've got to work to get some production in some other spots offensively, but it's kind of nice because we've got some options. Sometimes Dylan (Dirks) is on, sometimes Ferdinand is on," Rose said. "It's really good when both of them are going. If we can get some post play going and get some guys scoring consistently in the post, I think we'll be a tough team to beat down the road."
The Cougars will look to get back into the win column at 7 p.m. Friday against Shawnee Mission East.
Ferdinand Handy 6-14 1-2 16, Jamey Fisher 1-4 0-0 2, Christian Ghilardi 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Sanders 2-4 0-0 5, Noah Kendall 2-4 0-0 4, Jalen LyDay 4-6 2-2 10, Zach Smith 2-5 0-0 5, Manik Kapoor 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Dirks 3-11 5-5 12. Totals 18-44 8-9 54.
Braden Solko 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Roberts 5-14 5-6 17, Price Morgan 2-3 4-4 8, Fred Brou 2-7 0-0 4, Anthony Harvey Jr. 5-7 0-0 15, Noah Butler 0-1 1-2 1, Jackson Mallory 5-13 2-2 14, Kobe Buffalomeat 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-47 12-14 59.
SMNW 4 18 16 16 – 54
LHS 12 12 16 19 – 59
Three-point goals: SMNW 6-23 (Handy 3, Smith, Dirks, Sanders); LHS 10-23 (Harvey Jr. 5, Mallory 3, Roberts 2). Turnovers: SMNW 12, LHS 8.