Archive for Tuesday, January 8, 1991

LIONS MUST TAKE WINNING IN STRIDE

January 8, 1991

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Reggie Mayo knew how significant it was, but he didn't really know how to relate it.

"This is the turnaround," said Mayo, Lawrence High's point guard, after the Lions shocked No. 1-ranked Shawnee Mission South, 65-61, last Friday. "We haven't done this since . . ."

Then Mayo couldn't go on.

Naturally, it would be hard for Mayo, now a senior, to remember. He was in eighth grade the last time Lawrence High was over .500.

It was back during the 1985-56 season. That club jumped to a 10-0 start and wound up 17-4.

Those Lions were led by point guard Mike Harding, who went on to play collegiately at Georgia Southern.

Coincidentally, Mayo is Harding's cousin.

"HE KIND of took me under his wing," Mayo said of Harding. "I was like his back foot. Everytime he came back (from school) we were like brothers."

Lucky for the Lions, it seems.

"I used to like football, but he taught me a lot about basketball," Mayo said.

So it was Harding who steered the shifty 5-9 guard to the basketball court. Now Mayo has steered Lawrence High to a 4-2 record.

Mayo was right in saying that fourth straight win, the one that ended defending state champion SM South's 29-game winning streak, was a turnaround.

Boys basketball wins have been rare at Lawrence High lately. Between Harding's senior season and the current one, the Lions compiled a 21-60 record. Not since the 1985-86 team graduated had LHS won four straight.

Until last Friday.

So the Lions, indeed, have reached a turning point. Take a look at each of their wins to date. Each has been significant:

LHS 78, LEAVENWORTH 67: This was the Lions' first win after two losses. It was their first against Leavenworth since 1987, and only their second in nine meetings with the Pioneers. At the time, Leavenworth was ranked in the state coaches' poll. Plus, Lawrence had to rally from a 7-0 deficit.

LHS 76, SM NORTH 35: This was only the Lions' third 40-point win in a decade, and it put them out to a 2-2 start, their best since (guess when) the 1985-86 season.

LHS 80, OLATHE NORTH 73: Once again Lawrence had to rally, this time from a nine-point deficit, and did so for rare back-to-back wins. It caught the Eagles with 2:25 left and held them scoreless for the last 1:56.

LHS 65, SM SOUTH 61: Count the ways this one was big. It. . .1) ended the Raiders' streak; 2) kept Lawrence's streak alive; 3) gave LHS sole possession of the Sunflower League lead at 4-0; and 4) showed the Lions they could beat even the top-ranked team in the state.

THERE WERE even more ways that win was big, Chris Marshall, Mayo's counterpart in the backcourt, told me.

"It gives us a chance at a state ranking, and that's one of our goals," Marshall said. In fact, LHS was ranked eighth in this week's coaches' poll. "It'll probably make us the No. 1 out-of-town seed in the Topeka Tournament.

"And it gives us some tradition. We've had tradition in football and in baseball. It's been a long time since we had that in basketball, and that's what we need."

LHS did turn the corner against SM South. That makes its next outing as important as its last. A win on Friday over 1-6 Olathe South would show that they can take winning in stride.

The Lions, you see, have proven they can beat good teams. Now they must show they can win the games they're supposed to win.

Mayo, for one, wasn't worried.

"We can't afford to not be hungry," he said. "We've been the sourpusses for three years. There's no way we could not be hungry."

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