Jake Mosiman 2-7 0-0 5, KJ Pritchard 8-18 1-3 21, Shane Willoughby 1-4 1-2 4, Anthony Buffalomeat 1-1 0-0 2, Logan Henrichs 5-12 2-2 14, Troy Willoughby 3-4 4-5 11, Tyrone Jenkins 0-4 0-0 0, Logan Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-51 8-12 57.
Craig Nicholson 4-10 2-2 12, Kendrick Miller 6-10 4-5 16, Dauntae Carter 2-3 2-2 8, Tyree Tuggle 4-6 0-1 9, Spenser Gales 4-7 0-1 8, Jacob Jones 1-2 0-0 3, Evan Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Moncada 0-3 0-0 0, Mitchell McIntyre 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-38 8-11 56.
LHS 12 12 16 17 — 57
WNW 15 13 16 12 — 56
Three-point goals: LHS 9-23 (Pritchard 4, Henrichs 2, Mosiman, S. WIlloughby, T. Willoughby); WNW 6-13 (Nicholson 2, Miller 2, Carter 2, Tuggle). Fouled out: LHS, Mosiman. Turnovers: LHS 10, WNW 10. Technical foul: WNW, Carter.
Topeka Ask a member of Lawrence High’s boys basketball team about Shane Willoughby’s buzzer-beating shot to end the game Thursday in the first round of the Topeka Invitational, and he’ll likely smile, shrug his shoulders and respond something along the lines of: Hey, the refs called it a three.
There is no denying that. The officials ruled Willoughby’s last-second jumper a three-pointer, which made it a game-winner in the Lions’ 57-56 victory over Wichita Northwest.
With just 2.5 seconds left, LHS senior KJ Pritchard passed the ball to Willoughby, near the left sideline and behind the three-point arc. The 5-foot-9 junior guard dribbled toward the line and pulled up to nail his first field goal of the game as time expired.
It appeared Willoughby’s momentum took him just inside the line before he rose to sink his clutch shot, but after a brief conversation among the games’ three officials, the call stood, and the Lions advanced to the semifinals — much to the annoyance of WNW coach Christopher Collins and the rest of the Grizzlies.
After the controversial ending, Lawrence coach Mike Lewis said he was glad the call ended up in favor of the Lions.
“I just saw the official put both hands up, the guy who was right behind Shane, and that’s good enough for me,” Lewis said.
The decisive play wasn’t drawn up for Willoughby, but once he got the ball, the junior said his only concern was firing his shot with confidence.
“I was just trying to get it off. I wasn’t necessarily trying to get a three or a two,” the smiling junior said. “It happened to be a three, and we won the game.”
Considering he was the one who took the shot, Willoughby had to weigh in on the controversy, especially after his teammates gave him a hard time about the shot being a two-pointer.
“Honestly, I thought we were going to overtime,” he said.
Despite all the hysteria surrounding the final play, Lewis was proud of how his team played in the seconds leading up to that point — and the entire game, for that matter. The Lions were down, 54-51, in the final minute before senior guard Logan Henrichs took a pass from Pritchard and drilled a three-pointer with 14 seconds to go.
Wichita NW (7-2) regained the lead on a two-handed jam by 6-foot-8 senior Spenser Gales with four seconds left. After LHS (6-4) got the ball in and up to mid-court, Lewis called a timeout, setting up the dramatic finish.
“Our so-to-speak bigger guns were covered, and Shane was open, and he took advantage of the moment,” the coach said after Willoughby finished with four points.
A trio of seniors — Pritchard and Henrichs, along with Shane’s older brother, Troy — helped carry the Lions for most of the game.
Lawrence missed its first six shots of the fourth quarter and was down seven points before Pritchard cut to the hoop for a basket more than three minutes into the final period. The cagy senior, who finished with 21 points, then hit a little jump-hook in the post that cut Northwest’s lead to 49-44 with just more than four minutes to go.
Troy drove to the basket for buckets twice in the next two minutes, getting a foul and three-point play on the first one. Between those key scores, Henrichs secured a steal and pitched the ball ahead for an Anthony Buffalomeat layup. Henrichs finished with 14 points, and Troy Willoughby scored 11 off the bench.
As was the case in the final seconds, Lawrence’s hot shooting from long range was the difference in the win. The Lions finished 9-for-23 from downtown but really started clicking in the second half, when they went 7-for-14.
Pritchard hit his first two three-point tries of the third quarter, and Jake Mosiman and Henrichs followed his lead with bombs of their own as LHS hit four three-pointers in a row in the quarter. Pritchard hit one more for good measure in the third and said after the game he was thankful the team’s threes finally started falling.
“We knew at some time all the in-and-out ones were gonna go our way,” Pritchard said.
The Lions did all of that without their starting center. Lewis said sophomore Bryce Montes de Oca tweaked an ankle earlier in the week and visited the doctor Thursday. LHS learned on the drive to Highland Park that the big man would be unavailable.
“Our guys didn’t treat it as a distraction,” Lewis said. “They just buckled in, stuck to the game plan.”
Lewis said Montes de Oca is out for the remainder of the tournament, but the Lions are looking forward to tonight’s 8:30 game against Topeka High.
— Check out Benton Smith's "Prep Appraisals" from the game.