Topeka Jeff Miller may well be the consummate role player for Lawrence High. His role Wednesday night was to kill Highland Park.
Miller, a 6-2 forward, scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, both season highs, as fourth-ranked LHS rolled to a 73-48 basketball win over the Scotties in the first round of the Topeka Invitational Tournament at Topeka Hayden.
"Jeff Miller, I think, played excellent," Lion coach Ron Weber said. "That's Miller's best game. He was going to the boards, getting the garbage buckets. He was just doing everything for us."
For a stretch at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, Miller dominated, scoring eight straight points as Lawrence stretched a 9-5 lead into a 17-5 advantage.
"They were kind of lazy underneath, and I got good position," Miller said. "The ball seemed to bounce my way tonight and I got three or four easy buckets on stickbacks."
THE LIONS won in the first round of the Topeka tourney for the first time in four years. They will meet host Hayden, a 63-52 winner over Kansas City Sumner, in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Miller couldn't have picked a better night to take the spotlight, as leading scorer Maurice Trotter went two-for-15 from the floor and wound up with 11 points.
Lawrence's Michael Cosey led all scorers with 18 and tied Miller with 11 boards.
"We're such a team this year," Miller said. "No one is selfish. We have confidence that everyone on this team can score. We're not afraid to pass it to anybody."
The Scots were a team of a different kilt. They hit just two of their first 12 shots and were seven-for-26 at halftime.
"They were getting 15-, 18-foot shots. They just weren't making them," Weber said. "We'd get the rebound and try to push it on the break."
Hi Park was broken at halftime, when Lawrence led, 41-16.
"YOU CAN'T give a good team and Lawrence is a very good team a 25-point halftime lead and expect to win," Scotties coach Mike Brinsko said. "Lawrence deserves a lot of credit. They were responsible for a lot of our apparent ineptitude."
Weber substituted freely in the second half 12 Lions played and 11 scored and Highland Park recovered some. Even though LHS led by as many as 29 early in the third quarter, the second half was a dead heat at 32-32.
Forward Darth Vaughn scored 11 points and was the only Scot in double figures.
"We ran them up and down the court so many times," Miller said. "That was just a fun game to play."
Trotter had a bad night from the field but made seven of eight free throws and stretched his streak of consecutive foul shots to 15 before missing in the third quarter.
Lawrence ran its record to 8-1, its best start since the 1985-86 season when it won its first 10. That also was the season the Lions won the last of their four Topeka Invitational titles.
The tournament concludes Saturday. A win Friday will put Lawrence in the 7:30 p.m. championship game. Should LHS lose it will play for third place at 3 p.m.