Maybe El NiÃ±o has infiltrated Lawrence High's boys basketball team.
Since blowing out Tulsa (Okla.) Will Rogers by 47 points 2 1/2 weeks ago, the Lions have been deluged with close games. Lawrence High's past four contest haven't been decided until the final possession, includeing Tuesday night's 53-50 victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest in the LHS gym.
The margin of victory in Lawrence High's past four contests - two, three, one and three points.
"This is a team that has the ability to take it up a couple of notches," said LHS coach Mark Vancuren, whose team improved to 10-5 overall and 5-2 in the Sunflower League." It seems like there's a lull every now and then. Instead of playing to win, we play to keep from losing. We have to get a bit of killer instinct."
LHS senior guard Jim Rohodes hit two free throws with seven seconds left for the last of his game-high 18 points to secure the LIons' vitory over the Cougars (2-13, 1-6). With two seconds left, Northwest's Josko Brkic's three-point attempt bounced off the backboard and rim.
"It should have been a blowout, but it's good to get a win," said Rhodes, shooting 85 percent form the free-throw line for the season. "We need to put teams awayt. We held them off and that's what counts."
Rhodes and teammates Todd Hietshusen and Adam Wilmes have battled the flu this week.
"I think we were focused, but our minds may have been on how our legs were going to hold up," said Rhodes, who scored seven of Lawrence High's nine points in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 51-50 with 22 seconds left, the cougars committed a turnover in front of Northwest's bench. LHS point guard Andrew Watkins tipped a pss and an official ruled that SMNW's Jon Summer tipped it after Watkins did.
The LIons led 49-40 after Scott Miller's basket inside following a Rhodes' assist. The Cougars closed within one on a 10-2 surge before Rhodes' two free throws.
"You can't say enough about senior leadership down the stretch," Vancuren said. "We had a lot of guys sick...not at the top of their game. Scott Miller comes up big with 11 points. We had a lot of people play and contirbute."
Heitshusen, averaging 18.6 points a game, scored seven points - all in the third quarter. His three-pointer with 5:12 left in the third was his 42nd of the year, setting an LHS single-season record.
In the junior vasrsity contest, SM Northwest defeated LHS< 67-58. Kin Vinson and Michael Coggins combined for 34 of the Lions' points. Vinson scored 18 points to lead LHS (4-7).
The Lions will play at Shawnee Mission East on Friday.