Topeka Showing off an elite combination of speed, size, depth and offensive efficiency, Highland Park remained undefeated by crushing Lawrence, 69-47, in the Topeka Invitational Tournament championship game Saturday night at Topeka West High.
The Scots — ranked No. 2 in Class 4A — never trailed and at times overwhelmed the Lions (8-4) with their unyielding defense on the perimeter and brute physicality in the paint.
After LHS fell to 5-7 in TIT title games and Highland Park won its 18th championship since the tournament’s inception in 1962, Lawrence coach Mike Lewis called the Scots (12-0) “by far” the best team Lawrence has faced this season.
“They have way too many weapons,” Lewis said. “They throw their first five at you, and then they’ve got another four or five coming back at you (off the bench).”
Shaffee Carr, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, led the Scots with 16 points, sophomore guard Jahmal McMurray had 13, and 6-7 back-up forward Eddie Hunt scored 10. Highland Park’s bench outscored the LHS subs, 19-10.
The Scots’ depth proved to be the difference. They had six players with at least four points in the first half. Meanwhile, only Justin Roberts (seven points), Jake Mosiman (five) and Anthony Bonner (four) had scored for Lawrence in the first two quarters, and the Lions trailed 33-16 at the break.
“We’ve never really played a team that fast,” said Bonner, who finished with nine points and a team-high six rebounds.
LHS missed its first six shots, trailed 17-6 entering the second quarter and made just seven of 29 field goals (24 percent) in the first half. The Lions went 17-for-50 (34 percent) from the floor on the night.
As well as the Scots played in the first 16 minutes — shooting 12-for-25 from the floor — they came out even hotter in the second half. Highland Park hit its first five shots of the third quarter and six of its first seven to open the fourth. The Scots finished 14-for-21 from the floor in the second half and hit five of their eight three-pointers.
Mosiman (16 points), Roberts (12) and Bonner carried the LHS offense most of the game. It wasn’t until the closing minutes of the third quarter that someone else scored for the Lions. Jacob Seratte knocked down an open jumper off of a Connor Henrichs pass with 1:40 left in the third. Then fellow sub John Barbee, who finished with eight points, banked in a three-pointer from the left wing with 24 seconds left. But Lawrence still trailed, 47-31.
Highland Park’s dominance continued in the fourth, when the hole grew for Lewis’s team.
Six Lions were named to the Topeka Invitational Tournament All-Academic Team.
Seniors Drake Hofer and Derrick Williams, junior Seratte, sophomores Bonner and Ben Rajewski and freshman Price Morgan earned the honor by having a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Also, following the championship game, the entire LHS team received the tournament’s sportsmanship award.