Lawrence boys basketball improves to 4-0 after earning 67-59 win over Grandview

photo by: Chance Parker

Lawrence senior guard Zeke Mayo drives to the basket against Grandview Saturday afternoon at Blue Valley High School on Dec. 12, 2020. The Lions defeated the Bulldogs, 67-59, to improve to 4-0 on the year.

Stilwell — Lawrence High’s boys basketball team never trailed on its way to a 67-59 win over Grandview Saturday afternoon at Blue Valley High School. And had it not been for a pair of layups in the closing seconds, the Lions would have netted their fourth double-digit win in as many games to start the season.

But all of that is somewhat misleading.

Lawrence really had to work for its third win of the week at Blue Valley High School. LHS played total-team defense for all four quarters and had a number of players put their body on the line whenever necessary. On offense, the Lions had to be meticulous while facing a full-court press all afternoon.

“We worked through the whole 32 minutes,” Lawrence head coach Mike Lewis said. “Their style of play of trapping and and playing really aggressive, you have to work the ball up the floor and you have to work in the half-court.”

“We did some things that made them look really, really good,” Lewis added. “But I thought our guys made adjustments.”

In a way, it was the perfect game for the Lions (4-0, No. 3 in Class 6A) to end the week on. Lawrence secured a 66-54 win over Blue Valley (No. 5 in Class 6A) on Tuesday before recording a 59-49 win over Ruskin on Wednesday.

Normally, this event features eight teams and is called the Blue Valley Shootout. Lawrence is regularly in the championship game of that tourney. Due to COVID-19 precautions, though, there was no such tournament this year and this four-team round robin essentially took its place.

Yet the event — which was put on by Blue Valley Athletic Director Matt Ortman — still served its purpose. The Lions faced three quality opponents this past week, all three of which had their own unique brand of basketball.

“I’m appreciative of Mr. Ortman for allowing us to spread this thing out and still play in a different format,” Lewis said. “The competition is good and the styles of play have been different, so it is fun to play different styles of basketball.”

photo by: Chance Parker

Lawrence senior forward Corban Oberzan celebrates during the matchup against Grandview Saturday afternoon at Blue Valley High School on Dec. 12, 2020. The Lions defeated the Bulldogs, 67-59, to improve to 4-0 on the year.

But the Lions offered a glimpse of their own style of play during Saturday’s win over the Bulldogs, especially during the final three minutes of the contest.

Despite leading by double digits and having the game in hand, Lawrence was still putting it all on the line down the stretch. Senior guard Zeke Mayo, who led the team with 23 points, had a strong drive to the rim at the 2:31 mark that ended with an and-one opportunity.

Mayo flexed in celebration, as he gave LHS a 64-50 advantage. The Lawrence bench roared in approval, though that was really just the start of a significant stretch.

Moments later, senior guard Jackson Dooley scored on a layup and immediately dove for a loose ball on the ensuing inbound pass. Dooley ended up notching the steal, and calling a timeout with his team up 16 in the final 90 seconds.

Shortly after that, junior guard Truman Juelsgaard managed to draw a charge on the defensive end to halt a transition opportunity by Grandview. It was a sequence that showed how the Lions were willing to play with intensity until the final buzzer, even though it was their third game in five days.

“It’s because we still have heart and we want to win,” Juelsgaard said. “We want to get those hustle plays to give us the ball and give us a better chance to win.”

Lawrence had that same level of effort and energy for the duration of the game.

The Lions jumped out to a 11-0 advantage, and didn’t give up a basket until the 3:26 mark in the opening period. The LHS opening rotation of Mayo, Dooley, Juelsgaard, junior Grant Cleavinger and junior Pearse Long set the tone by playing total-team defense out of the gate.

Mayo forced a five-second violation with tremendous on-ball pressure during one of the first possessions of the game.

“We just wanted to keep them in front,” Juelsgaard said. “That’s what (the coaches) told us and not give them a straight shot to the basket. That’s what we did, and they missed some shots and we pushed the ball.”

Lawrence’s bench bought into that same mentality, too. Senior Ntense Obono managed to draw three charges in the contest, including two on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. Obono also delivered a strong block at one point in the second half.

Senior Corban Oberzan, junior Jack Ryan and junior Avion Nelson brought plenty of energy off the bench as well, particularly on the defensive end. The group made sure that the Lions never surrendered their advantage.

“We worked really hard and we pushed through adversity,” Juelsgaard said. “When they started coming back, we just kept going and (played) our game.”

Grandview cut its deficit to a 34-33 margin at the 6:26 mark, which was the biggest scare that Lawrence had all game. But that’s when Mayo removed any doubt about the outcome.

Mayo, who is signed to South Dakota State, responded by scoring the next five baskets for Lawrence. He drilled a 3-pointer on an assist from Cleavinger to start the run, and later added a layup in transition off a nice pass from Obono.

Mayo ended up scoring 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter to help stave off the Bulldogs. He went 9-for-16 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from long range. Mayo added eight assists and seven rebounds.

Juelsgaard and Dooley each finished with 10 points to join Mayo in double figures. Juelsgaard also notched four assists, while Dooley finished with a team-high five steals.

“It’s such a blessing as a coach to not have to coach energy and effort,” Lewis said. “Our guys play hard and they are learning what it takes to be a really good teammate.”

Lawrence will travel to Shawnee Mission North at 7 p.m. Friday.

Grandview (59)

Jordan McGee 6-10 1-2 15, Maurice Jennings 7-12 1-2 19, Chuka Eze 1-3 1-1 3, Brooklyn Brown 0-6 3-4 3, Keenan Hayes 2-7 0-0 4, Josiah Kirkwood 2-6 0-0 4, Jalen McGee 4-6 1-4 9, Damien Stephens 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 23-53 7-13 59.

Lawrence (67)

Zeke Mayo 9-16 1-1 23, Truman Juelsgaard 2-6 5-6 10, Jackson Dooley 4-6 1-4 10, Grant Cleavinger 3-5 1-2 7, Pearse Long 4-6 0-0 9, Avion Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Ntense Obono 3-4 0-0 6, Jack Ryan 1-1 0-0 2, Corban Oberzan 0-1 0-2 0. Totals: 26-46 FG 8-15 FT 67 points.

Grandview 7 18 17 17 — 59

Lawrence 18 14 20 15 — 67

3-point goals: GV 6-16 (Jennings 4, Jordan McGee 2); LHS 7-10 (Mayo 4, Juelsgaard, Dooley, Long). Turnovers: GV 14; LHS 22. Fouled out: None.

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