LHS boys basketball races out to fast start in 60-47 win over Shawnee Mission North

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Lawrence High senior Zeke Mayo (2) rushes down the court with little time left in the first half during a game against Shawnee Mission North Friday night at Shawnee Mission North on Dec. 18, 2020. The Lions secured a 60-47 win over the Indians.

Overland Park — Thirteen points proved to be the lucky number for Lawrence High School in a 60-47 road win over Shawnee Mission North on Friday night — and the Lions decided to get them out of the way early.

LHS raced out to a strong start in the opening period for a 13-point advantage, scoring 17 points to Shawnee Mission North’s 4. And the Lions were in complete control after that, holding onto their cushion and ending the game on another 13-point margin.

LHS improved to 5-0 (1-0 Sunflower League) heading into the break.

“It was definitely good for us because it is their home-court advantage,” LHS senior Zeke Mayo said. “Especially with us about to go on a winter break. Nobody really had anything to lose tonight, so I think they came out ready, and, thank God, we came out to a strong start.”

Mayo’s birthday was actually Friday. He turned 18, and the LHS boys basketball team sang “Happy Birthday” to him in the locker room after the game. The birthday boy was a big reason for Lawrence’s strong performance out of the gate.

Mayo scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter alone. The South Dakota State signee notched the first three baskets of the game, all three of which demonstrated his immense versatility as a scorer.

The first bucket came off a steal that led to a layup in transition. Mayo’s second basket came on a floater after a strong drive to the rim. Mayo’s third was a credit to basketball savviness, as he was in the right place at the right time for the rebound that led to an easy 2 points.

Mayo later netted a 3-pointer off a brilliant cross-court pass from junior Avion Nelson. In the final minute of the first quarter, Mayo turned down a ball screen from junior Pearse Long and had a strong drive to the basket for a hard-earned layup to give LHS (No. 3 in Class 6A) a 17-2 advantage early on.

“It was a point of emphasis coming out of our pregame,” Lawrence head coach Mike Lewis said of the first-quarter effort. “I think our guys had that simple mindset, and we were able to come out and make some shots and get some momentum.”

On the other end, the Lions were just as effective during their fast start. They forced the Indians (0-5, 0-1) into six turnovers, showing their ability to get in passing lanes and push the ball up the court when they had numbers off those turnovers.

Shawnee Mission North went just 1-for-8 from the floor in the opening period. In fact, the hosts didn’t even hit a shot until there were 37 seconds left in the first quarter. The Indians didn’t make their second attempt from the floor until the second period.

All of that was really a credit to a collective effort on the defensive end. The starting rotation of Mayo, Long, Truman Juelsgaard, Grant Cleavinger and Jackson Dooley set the tone on defense.

Nelson, Corban Oberzan, Ntense Obono and Jack Ryan all played just as well defensively when they came off the bench.

“I thought our defense was good,” Lewis said. “We had a couple things we were working on to get better at, and I thought those specifics were better in the first half. Our energy was good, and I thought we were physical.”

The Lions were able to coast the rest of the way in a game that was never as close as the final score would indicate.

Long ended up as the only other LHS player to finish in double figures by adding 13 points. He scored eight of those points in the second quarter, which included a stretch of back-to-back 3-pointers when the defense collapsed on a driving guard.

Ryan (eight points) and Nelson (six points) combined to chip in 14 points off the bench. Ryan got free for multiple good-looking jumpers. Nelson’s best play of the night came on a vicious dunk in transition midway through the fourth quarter.

On the defensive end, Lawrence remained just as locked in for much of the night. Shawnee Mission North had some quick, slippery guards who managed to get good looks every now and then, but never enough got in much of a rhythm.

Mayo led the team with seven rebounds and four steals. Juelsgaard also tallied two steals for LHS.

It was the type of performance that showed the Lions have hit somewhat of a groove given how many games they have already played.

Lawrence has played five contests within the first month of the season, while three other city squads (Lawrence girls, Free State boys and Free State girls) have had to quarantine at some point. That fact is not lost on the LHS boys basketball squad either.

“We feel very much lucky that we have been able to play five good games,” Lewis said. “There are a lot of kids who aren’t getting to play, much less on a Friday night against a league opponent. That was a huge part of our mindset for tonight.”

It is a stretch that has allowed Lewis to get a good grasp of his squad at this stage of the season. He is starting to figure out the strengths of his team while also learning areas of improvement for his squad.

“We have plenty of room to improve,” Lewis said. “Lots of positives to go along with that. Starting to understand our guys who haven’t been at the varsity level. We are still very much a work in progress, but we have seen a lot of positives.”

Lawrence will be back in action in January. LHS will travel to Shawnee Mission West on Jan. 8.

Lawrence (60)

Zeke Mayo 9-17 2-3 22, Truman Juelsgaard 0-1 1-2 1, Jackson Dooley 1-2 2-2 5, Grant Cleavinger 1-2 0-0 2, Pearse Long 4-5 2-2 13, Avion Nelson 3-6 0-0 6, Ntense Obono 1-3 0-0 2, Jack Ryan 3-3 2-2 8, Corban Oberzan 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 22-41 FG 10-13 FT 60 points.

SM North (47)

Jadin Cullen 1-3 0-0 2, Jeffrey Murphy Jr. 1-3 2-2 4, Ethan Salvino 0-4 2-2 2, Jeremiah Stanton 0-3 0-0 0, Miles Cole 1-3 2-2 4, Johnny Macan 3-7 0-0 9, Logan Oberle 2-3 2-2 6, James Shepherd 3-7 0-0 8, Devin Cherry 1-2 0-0 2, Vince Rolls 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 15-40 FG 12-15 FT 47.

Lawrence 17 16 11 16 — 60

SM North 4 14 8 21 — 47

3-point goals: LHS 6-15 (Mayo 2, Dooley, Long 3); SMN 5-14 (Macan 3, Shepherd 2). Turnovers: LHS 13; SMN 15. Fouled out: None.


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