Stilwell Sophomore Brad Strauss thought he had lost the nickname “Savior,” the one he earned this fall at quarterback for the Lawrence High football team.
After getting elbowed in a game last Friday against Washburn Rural, Strauss got some stitches on his forehead. “Stiches” became the new nickname.
But after hitting the game-winning three-pointer to give the Lawrence High boys basketball team a 53-51 victory against Lee’s Summit North (Mo.) on Saturday at the BV Shootout, Strauss is preparing for the inevitable.
“It was ‘Stitches’ for a few days, but now I don’t know if it’ll be that anymore,” Strauss said.
The shot, along with 25 points from junior KJ Pritchard, helped the Lions finish fifth out of eight teams in the tournament. Senior Garret Wagner said the team called Strauss’ shot a prophecy.
“It was meant to be,” Wagner said.
Except that it wasn’t.
Strauss expected Pritchard or junior Logan Henrichs to take the final shot. LHS coach Mike Lewis drew up a high ball screen, hoping to keep the defense spread out and for a little luck. Pritchard passed to Henrichs, who dribbled before kicking it out to Strauss in the right corner with time running out.
Strauss said the shot felt good right off his hands. It fell through the net a second before the final buzzer sounded.
“There’s a couple guys on our team who have some ice in their veins,” Lewis said. “It was almost like in practice, just working on our kick out drills. Kick it out and shoot the three, and game over. It feels really good.”
Sophomore Shane Willoughby was the other guy, hitting a three from the left corner with 21.8 seconds remaining to bring the Lions within one.
“Sometimes you forget about that shot that got us that close, and that was just as important as Brad’s,” Lewis said.
Out of the ensuing LHS timeout, the Lions fouled the Broncos’ 6-foot-9 David Kravish, who scored 21 points on 10-for-10 shooting.
Kravish missed two free throws to give the Lions (2-2), and Strauss, the opportunity.
But Kravish’s presence inside bothered LHS all day long. He scored 16 points in the first half. At halftime, the coaches emphasized sagging in on him in the paint. After the break, Kravish scored just five points.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, against a dominant kid like that,” Lewis said. “When we’re throwing out 6-4 guys at a 6-9 guy, it’s got to be a team effort.”
Wagner, who often tangled with Kravish in the middle of the Lions’ 2-3 zone, said it was a good feeling getting a victory against a team with such a big presence.
“He’s a big guy, so we just had to keep getting physical with him and try to push him out of the lane,” Wagner said.
What people will remember from this game, however, is Strauss’ impact on it. He scored nine points and seemed more in rhythm with the game than in any other this season.
“I’m getting more used to the speed of it. It’s a lot quicker,” Strauss said. “But I think football helped me with that, getting used to the speed and the strength of these big guys.”
Lewis said Strauss gets better every week. He also cited his competitive nature as a reason he will continue to see time at the varsity level.
After his first game-winning shot on the varsity level, you would’ve expected Strauss to act like he’s never been there before, since, well, he hasn’t. Instead, he remained stoic, simply walking back to the bench after the shot as his teammates engulfed him.
So was he excited about it?
“Oh, I was happy about it,” Strauss said. “I just don’t, like, show much emotion.”