LHS vs. Highland Park
The Lions came up a little short in the Topeka Invitational championship game Saturday, January 23, 2010. LHS dropped the contest 50-68.
Topeka — Among the many lessons learned by Lawrence High’s boys basketball team Saturday night was one that should serve the Lions well if they happen to run into Highland Park again during the next three seasons.
Jamon Fulton can shoot.
During Highland Park’s 68-50 victory over LHS in the championship game of the Topeka Invitational, Fulton, a freshman, drained the first four three-pointers he shot and helped the Scots stroke their way to a 15-1 lead that proved insurmountable.
“They hit three threes in a row to start the game, and that just sucked the air out of us,” said LHS sophomore K.J. Pritchard, who led the Lions with 17 points. “But in that first timeout, coach Lew just said, ‘Forget the score, and play like you’ve played the rest of the tournament.’ I think we did.”
Added senior Drake DeBiasse: “We caught ’em on a hot night. But I was really proud of the way we battled our butts off. Coach had been preaching poise all tournament, and I thought we showed a lot tonight.”
The Scots hit the first six shots they attempted and built a 17-point lead (19-2) before a 10-2 run by the Lions settled things down and cut Highland Park’s lead to single digits.
During the final three quarters, the teams traded buckets, turnovers, three-pointers and fouls in a game that seemed close the rest of the way even though the HP lead never dipped below eight points.
Credit the Lions’ mental state for that.
“This was one of those experiences where they were tested, and I thought they did a pretty good job,” LHS coach Mike Lewis said. “It really excited our guys to come in here and play a top-notch team. We’ve really bought into the idea that we want those challenges.”
Though the early hole left little doubt about the outcome of the game, there were plenty of moments when the Lions were the better team.
Perhaps sensing the need to keep up with the hot-shooting Scots — 10-of-23 from downtown for the game — Pritchard hit five of nine three-pointers and added four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Senior Marcus Ray had his third straight solid game in the tournament, finishing with 14 points, including 5-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line.
Seldom-used senior Garett Wagner also gave the Lions a lift on the interior. Wagner used his toughness to score four points and grab two rebounds during the critical stretch in which the Lions got their feet under them.
LHS (3-8) also had its share of bad moments. In addition to giving up 10 treys, the Lions were abused on the boards and had 15 turnovers, both of which helped Highland Park maintain a comfortable lead throughout the game.
Although the Lions conceded that finishing second never feels good, sliding into the runner-up spot at this tournament was a huge lift.
“The biggest thing was that our young guys got a little confidence,” DeBiasse said.
Added Lewis: “I think if we could’ve countered early with a couple of baskets, it could have been a different game. But I hope what we did here allows us to keep our momentum going.”
The Lions are off next week and will return to action Feb. 2 at Olathe North.
*Be sure to check out the latest version of Tait's Take for a look back at the individual performances from this game.