Lawrence’s comeback bid falls short in 70-67 loss to Wichita Southeast
WICHITA — The Lawrence High faithful let out a collective groan as Clarence King’s game-tying triple rattled out as time expired.
Despite a pair of valiant comeback efforts, Lawrence’s season was brought to an abrupt ending with a 70-67 loss to Wichita Southeast Wednesday night at Charles Koch Arena. It marked the second consecutive season that the Lions have been eliminated in the first round of the 6A state tournament.
“We showed our fight and worked our way back into it,” LHS head coach Mike Lewis said. “We showed who we were, we are not going to fold and get run out of the gym. I’m really proud of the way our guys fought, it was a tough game. We had a chance at the end, and they were just a little bit better than us tonight.”
To the Lions (19-4) credit, however, they showed that they can’t ever be counted out. Even though they were in unfamiliar territory against the Golden Buffaloes (20-3) on multiple occasions, once in the third quarter and once more in the final minute.
The latter rally was perhaps the most impressive. Wichita Southeast took a 68-62 lead with 36 seconds remaining. Instead of folding, LHS forced the opposition to sweat out the waning moments.
On the other end, sophomore Zeke Mayo netted a layup to trim the deficit to 4 points with 30 seconds left. On the ensuing inbound pass, senior Trey Quartlebaum forced a jump ball. Senior Brett Chapple then netted an and-one to pull within 68-67 with 17 seconds left.
Wichita Southeast netted a pair of free throws, but the Lions nearly forced the free period. Quartlebuam missed his shot from beyond the arc, though King ended up with the rebound. The senior ran out to the top of the key before firing up a triple that bounced off the rim.
“It looked straight,” King said. “I tried to shoot it hard off the backboard, and it just hit the left side and it came off.”
It was only the second time in the second half the LHS staged a comeback bid.
After leading by a 32-30 margin at the intermission, the Golden Buffaloes led by as many as 15, taking a 48-33 advantage with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter. It was reminiscent of the way Lawrence cruised to a 72-46 win over Wichita Southeast during the semifinals of the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Jan. 18.
King started things off with a triple, and then proceeded to add two more points at the charity stripe a minute later. Quartlebaum netted a layup in transition, which was then answered immediately by Wichita Southeast.
Mayo drilled a 3-pointer at the 1:06 mark, and then Quartlebaum followed suit with a triple of his own. With 11 seconds left in the third quarter, Mayo took a hard drive to the rim before finishing the sequence off with a layup to pull within a 50-48 margin.
Even though both second-half surges were ultimately stalled, the Lions will remember this year as a success. They won a pair of tournament titles to go along with a Sunflower League crown. LHS notched its fifth consecutive trip to the 6A state tournament with another sub-state title.
In his final game of his career, King led the Lions with 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Mayo (14 points) and Quartlebaum (10 points) each joined him with double figures.
“It just hurts,” Lewis said. “We had our eyes on winning three. We have had such a good year, and we have such a good group of seniors. This come as a screeching halt, and you hurt for the guys.”
WICHITA SOUTHEAST (70)
Jackie Johnson 9-25 13-15 32, John Murdock 5-9 2-2 13, Rone Smith 1-2 0-0 3, Micah Jacques 6-15 4-4 18, Breelyn 1-4 0-0 2, Averille 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 23-56 19-21 70.
Zeke Mayo 5-13 2-5 14, Clarence King 9-15 6-7 26, Brett Chapple 3-4 2-3 8, Trey Quartlebaum 4-16 0-1 10, Eric Galbreath 1-1 0-0 2, Willie Dotson 0-1 0-0 0, Mayson Quartlebaum 3-5 0-0 7. Totals: 25-55 10-16 67.
WSE 12 20 18 20 — 70
LHS 14 16 18 19 — 67
Three-point goals: WSE 5-19 (Johnson, Murdock, Smith, Jacques 2); LHS 7-21 (Mayo 2, King 2, T. Quartlebaum 2, M. Quartlebaum). Turnovers: WSE 8, LHS 13. Fouled out: None.