STILWELL Lawrence High came back with a vengeance.
Less than 24 hours after losing in the semifinals of the Blue Valley Shootout, the Lions rolled to a 66-41 victory over host Blue Valley on Saturday to place third at the basketball tournament.
"We came out and said we were going to play our game and go with our system and see what happens," said LHS coach Chris Davis, whose squad evened its record at 2-2. "We played a lot of kids and we came out motivated. We had a chance to run our offensive breaks."
Following a sluggish first quarter, the Lions outscored the Tigers (1-2), 26-13, in the second quarter to take control. LHS led 33-19 at halftime and 52-30 after three quarters.
LHS senior guard D.J. Watkins scored a game-high 22 points. He made seven of 14 field goals, including four three-pointers.
"This was the first night where we got to run our offense and show a lot of our stuff," said Watkins, who scored 79 points in the three-game tourney. "We got to run a lot of presses. I thought our true colors showed tonight."
Watkins, the Lions' top scorer in each of the first four games, is averaging a whopping 24.5 points a game.
"I just try to play within the offense," Watkins said.
Against Blue Valley, Watkins scored all of his points in the second and third quarters. His reverse layin high off the glass with 1:49 left in the third quarter wowed the crowd.
Senior Jamie Peterson (11 points, seven rebounds) and junior Brandon McAnderson (10 points, six rebounds) also scored in double figures for the Lions.
"This was the first time where we played a complete game," Peterson said. "We know we have to win as many games as possible for seedings at sub-state. We're going to do our best to win, whether it's a first-place game or third-place game."
Blue Valley committed 17 turnovers and Lawrence had just six turnovers five in the first quarter.
"We know we're not a 1-2 team," said LHS senior Stephen Vinson, who had nine points. "We've faced pretty athletic teams. We like to push the ball and pressure a lot. The first three games we were not allowed to pressure that much. We knew today would be a fun game. We knew we'd get pressure on them and play our game."
The Lions, who won the tournament last year, have a 10-8 record in six years at the Blue Valley event.
"November and December are the months for learning and trying to figure out where we are," Davis said. "February is when you want to be playing your best basketball, and I think we're taking steps in that direction."
Next for LHS is the Lions' home opener on Saturday against Topeka Washburn Rural. Tipoff is 3 p.m. at LHS.