Strong defense lifts LHS boys past Lee’s Summit in Blue Valley Shootout
Stilwell — For exactly 651 seconds, Lee’s Summit couldn’t buy a basket in the first half.
A suffocating defensive effort by the Lawrence High boys basketball team was the biggest key to the team’s first win of the year. At one point in the first half, LHS kept Lee’s Summit from making a field goal for a total of 10 minutes, 51 seconds to close the first quarter and begin the second period.
It proved to be more than enough to help the Lions ease to a 70-55 win over the Tigers Tuesday night at Blue Valley High School. Lawrence will now advance to the semifinals of the Blue Valley Shootout after winning the tournament last year.
“I was happy with our energy and the way we scored the ball,” LHS head coach Mike Lewis said. “Defensively, we were able to turn them over and that led to some nice transition baskets and some feel-good plays.”
But the defending champs were on the ropes, albeit for a brief moment, to start the opening-round tilt.
Lee’ Summit netted the first two buckets, taking a 6-2 lead with a basket at the 5:44 mark in the first quarter. And that is when Lawrence buckled down on the defensive end, utilizing a full-court pressure defense after each made basket.
The Lions (1-1, No. 7 in Class 6A) scored 17 unanswered points to close out the first quarter and they never looked back after that. Most of Lawrence’s scoring production came in transition off miscues, as Lee’s Summit coughed up eight turnovers over that stretch.
Senior Mayson Quartlebuam netted three baskets over that span, including a dunk at the 2:08 mark off a cross-court pass from junior guard Zeke Mayo. Valdez White, Ruben Littlehead and JaCorey Thompson all got in on the scoring effort to help LHS take a 19-6 advantage after one quarter.
“You could feel that momentum get rolling with our defense, which was nice,” Lewis said. “I think we took a step today defensively. We took the ball and made plays.”
The Tigers didn’t make their next shot until there was 2:53 left in the first half, though the team netted five free throws in the second quarter. Still, LHS had a 29-13 advantage before the opposition found the bottom of the net again. And the Lions eventually led by a 35-19 margin at halftime.
Lee’s Summit pulled within 14 by the end of the quarter, but Lawrence never let it get closer than that. LHS scored nine unanswered points to begin the final period to remove any doubt about the outcome.
“Sometimes in a quiet gym, when you are up a bunch, you start to make silly plays,” Lewis said. “We should have been cleaner and a little more composed.”
Quartlebaum (18), White (15) and Mayo (10) all scored in double figures for the Lions.
Lawrence will take on Blue Valley in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday at Blue Valley High School.
“Blue Valley will be a different beast on Thursday,” Lewis said.
Zeke Mayo 5-9 0-0 10, Peyton Mallory 0-5 0-0 0, Valdez White 7-11 0-0 15, Ethan Bentzinger 1-3 0-0 3, Mayson Quartlebaum 8-10 1-3 18, Ruben Littlehead 3-3 2-2 9, JaCorey Thompson 3-4 0-1 6, Gannon Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Bryce Johnson 3-5 2-2 9. Totals: 30-51 5-8 70.
LEE”S SUMMIT (55)
Landen Willis 2-3 0-0 4, Brycen LaRue 0-2 0-0 0, Felix Anudike 3-12 1-6 7, Amari Kemp 0-2 2-2 2, Max Whisner 6-12 1-2 15, Darrias Pearsall 0-2 3-6 3, Bud Crawford 2-4 1-2 5, Alex Benassi 2-3 0-0 4, Damian Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, Landen Shepard 0-0 2-2 2, Luke McDonald 2-2 1-1 5, Caden McGuire 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 20-46 11-21 55.
Lawrence 19 16 16 19 — 70
Lee’s Summit 6 13 18 18 — 55
Three-point goals: LHS 5-12 (White, Bentzinger, Quartlebaum, Littlehead, Johnson); LS 4-9 (Whisner 2, McGuire 2). Turnovers: LHS 12; LS 20. Fouled out: None.