Energy, resurgent fourth quarter leads to LHS 63-58 comeback win over Shawnee Mission East
Emotions ran high throughout the night, and Lawrence High fed off the energy from its raucous crowd en route to a narrow 63-58 win over Shawnee Mission East. Junior guard Zeke Mayo led the way with 27 points.
Mayo said when you score 27 that’s something to “be happy about,” and LHS coach Mike Lewis said it was one of Mayo’s best games overall.
“He was great — setting up teammates, getting loose balls, I remember a steal on the wing that he took (in the fourth quarter),” Lewis said. “Those of us who have been around Zeke and watched him, it was a balanced (game). He no doubt didn’t want to let it go.”
That energy is to be expected as LHS played a home game for the first time since Jan. 14 against Olathe Northwest. And both the Lions and Lancers brought plenty of it right out the gate.
“When the community comes out, they appreciate us a lot,” Mayo said. “And the show we’re putting on right now, it’s amazing. So they’ll bring more energy to the next game and the game after that.”
The Lions set the tone with a 3-pointer from senior forward Mayson Quartlebaum, followed by a layup from senior guard Ruben Littlehead. But after that early advantage, it was a slugfest the rest of the quarter.
“I thought we took some punches early,” Lewis said. “I knew Shawnee Mission East wasn’t going to come out and just let us have what we want. They’re too tough and it’s a league game and it matters too much.”
Both teams traded baskets — for example, a Mayo corner 3-pointer was immediately answered by layups from SM East junior guard Tommy Dreyer. Even when Mayo and the Lions were able to get out in transition for an easy layup, the Lancers would answer with a jumper on the other end.
At the end of the first quarter, the Lions clawed their way to a 17-15 lead, led by Mayo with seven points in the quarter. Junior forward Preston Reynolds led the Lancers with five points, but missed a pair of layups near the end of the quarter.
SM East took a 20-19 lead thanks to a three-point play after senior guard Tony Friends III was fouled on a made layup. Momentum swung the Lancers way, especially after several missed layups for the Lions (six in the second quarter).
“We had some looks that just didn’t go down,” Lewis said. “And that’s no doubt an issue, but good teams find a way to win. When things aren’t going your way on offense, you can always really, really guard and get better defensively.”
However, senior guard Valdez White later tied things back up 22-22 off a 3-pointer in transition. And after another three from Mayo and senior forward Bryce Johnson was fouled on a dunk, LHS jumped out to a 30-26 lead.
Even with some sloppy turnovers, LHS held a 32-26 lead at halftime as the Lions were starting to regain some offensive rhythm.
The Lancers came out of the half with an edge, cutting the lead to 32-30. However, LHS responded with a layup from Quartlebaum then scored his first bucket since the early 3-pointer and Mayo hit another three.
SM East regained the lead with a 16-5 run, as the Lancers jumped back out to a 46-39 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“That was a gut check time, and a time to dig in and see what we’re all about,” Lewis said. “I thought our body language wasn’t good. We needed to stick our chests out and fight.”
Even though SM East senior guard Nick Arensberg hit a three to start the fourth quarter, LHS bounced back once again. The Lions cut the lead to 49-45, forcing a Lancers timeout.
Much of this came from LHS’ defense forcing turnovers and blocking shots. And after an LHS timeout, the Lions took a 53-52 lead after a layup from Mayo and free throws from Johnson.
“We started off slow (defensively), honestly,” Mayo said. “We weren’t boxing out, not rebounding the ball, we gave up second-chance points. But we picked up in the second half and that really helped us.”
Later, Mayo hit again and senior guard Peyton Mallory scored a wide-open layup to take a 57-54 lead with 45 seconds left.
Things got heated, though, on the next LHS inbounds. Mallory was looking to pass to Johnson, but Johnson was blocked by SM East coach Shawn Hair.
Hair had been inching out onto the court for the majority of the night, and eventually Lewis called him out during this inbounds play with less than 30 seconds left.
“Yeah, personally I just can’t let opposing coaches get out on the floor and impact the game,” Lewis said. “There’s a reason why there’s a coaches box and that repeated behavior out on the court can impact a kid trying to catch a ball. So emotions run high and that’s sometimes the way it goes.”
Both sides quickly resolved things, and LHS managed to hang on for the win.
“It’s great because we know we can be down and not playing our best and come back and win,” Lewis said of the win. “We didn’t need this game to tell us that — we know that. But it’s a tight league game and that’s just the way our league is.”
LHS will next play Olathe East at 7 p.m. Friday.
Lawrence High (63)
Zeke Mayo 10-15 4-5 27, Bryce Johnson 4-10 3-4 11, Ruben Littlehead 3-8 1-2 8, Mayson Quartlebaum 3-6 0-0 7, Peyton Mallory 2-7 2-2 6, Valdez White 1-4 1-2 4, Willie Dotson 0-1 0-0 0, Ethan Bentzinger 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 11-15 63.
Shawnee Mission East (58)
Preston Reynolds 7-11 2-4 17, Nick Arensberg 4-11 1-2 11, Tommy Dreyer 4-6 2-2 10, Will Townsend 3-7 0-0 6, Tony Friends III 1-6 3-3 5, Charlie Sublette 2-3 0-0 5, Emmett Hill 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 23-48 9-11 58.
Lawrence High 17 15 7 24 — 63
Shawnee Mission East 15 11 20 12 — 58
3-point goals: LHS 6-20 (Mayo, White, Quartlebaum, Littlehead); SM East 3-7 (Arensberg, Reynolds, Sublette). Turnovers: LHS 9, SM East 10.