LHS boys unable to complete comeback against Blue Valley North in final game of basketball season

photo by: Shane Jackson

Lawrence High junior guard Zeke Mayo attempts to make a move past a Blue Valley North defender during the opening round of the Class 6A state tournament at Wichita State University on March 12, 2020.

Wichita — If anyone would have walked into Koch Arena during the second half of Lawrence High’s 72-66 loss to Blue Valley North, they would have thought it was just another game. And that was by design.

Neither team knew that this was going to be the final game of the season no matter what. Early in the second quarter, KSHSAA announced that the rest of the state basketball tournament was going to be canceled due to threat of coronavirus.

It meant that for the first time since 1930, there wasn’t going to be a state basketball champion. But both teams squaring off in the final game of the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state boys basketball tournament were not made aware of that fact until after the game.

The Mustangs (20-3), who ended the year with a win and should have advanced to the semifinals, were crying on the court when they found out the news after the game. The Lions (18-5) discovered what happened after the game as well, making the final result a bit easier to swallow.

“I found out in the locker room right after we lost,” LHS senior Mayson Quartlebaum said. “It kind of made it hurt a little less, I guess, because if we (aren’t) winning, nobody is winning.”

But not knowing its fate probably played a part into Lawrence’s furious second-half comeback. In fact, Lawrence High head coach Mike Lewis didn’t even know.

“We were just trying to make adjustments and figure out a way to score a little bit better,” Lewis said. “We did and gave ourselves a chance and came back. Just a tough group, we had a great year. There is a lot to be proud of.”

Trailing 33-22 at the intermission, the Lions stormed back and even took a 62-61 lead with 2:27 left in the game. Junior guard Zeke Mayo netted a pair of free throws to give LHS its first advantage of the night since the first quarter.

Blue Valley North responded by scoring 7 unanswered points before eventually hanging on down the stretch.

“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Lewis said. “We played a good Blue Valley North team.”

It proved to be the final game for 14 total seniors between the two teams. Lawrence sent off a senior class of Peyton Mallory, Willie Dotson, Valdez White, Ethan Bentzinger, Bryce Johnson, Ruben Littlehead and Quartlebaum.

Mayo led the Lions with 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the floor. Both Johnson and White each tallied 10 points to finish in double figures. Blue Valley North was led by a 20-point performance from junior Nikko Taylor.

Lawrence had plenty of doubt it would ever even have the opportunity to take the floor, however. Players and coaches learned about other events being canceled throughout the day, including the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s just been a long day,” Lewis said. “Those guys, they handled it much better than I would. It is just a sign of how tough they are.”

In the end, though, Lawrence was one of eight teams that got the opportunity to play on the final day of the Class 6A boys season.

“I think it shows a lot on KSHSAA’s part,” Quartlebaum said. “Being aware of the virus that is going around, but still wanting to play. Because nobody else is playing and we feel like we should be able to still have our state championship.”

Lawrence (66)

Zeke Mayo 8-18 10-11 28, Peyton Mallory 0-4 0-0 0, Bryce Johnson 5-7 0-0 10, Mayson Quartlebaum 3-8 3-4 9, Ruben Littlehead 2-4 1-2 6, Willie Dotson 0-1 0-0 0, Valdez White 4-6 0-0 10, Ethan Bentzinger 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 23-49 14-17 66.

Blue Valley North (72)

Nicholas Blackford 0-0 2-2 2, Jack Sheplak 2-10 7-8 11, Shawn Hendershot 0-2 1-2 1, Isaac Patterson 4-4 3-4 11, Andrew Orr 6-10 2-2 14, Jack Souder 2-3 0-2 5, Nikko Taylor 8-9 2-3 20, Luke Adams 2-8 0-0 6, Cade Bohannon 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 25-47 17-23 72.

Lawrence 9 13 23 21 — 66

Blue Valley North 16 17 16 23 — 72

Three-point goals: LHS 6-21 (Mayo 2, White 2, Littlehead, Bentzinger); BVN 5-18 (Adams 2, Taylor 2, Souder). Turnovers: LHS 11, BVN 9. Fouled out: None.

Remaining teams before state basketball tournaments were canceled

Class 6A boys

No. 1 Campus (23-0)

No. 3 Blue Valley Northwest (21-2)

No. 4 Blue Valley North (20-3)

No. 7 Olathe South (17-6)

Class 6A girls

No. 1 Liberal (23-0)

No. 2 Topeka (23-0)

No. 4 Derby (21-2)

No. 6 Olathe East (18-5)

Class 5A boys

No. 1 Andover (23-0)

No. 2 Basehor-Linwood (21-2)

No. 3 Hays (16-6)

No. 5 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (17-6)

Class 5A girls

No. 1 McPherson (22-1)

No. 2 Andover Central (22-1)

No. 3 Topeka Seaman (20-3)

No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas (18-4)

Class 4A boys

No. 2 KC Piper (22-1)

No. 3 Bishop Miege (19-4)

No. 4 Augusta (19-4)

No. 8 Rose Hill (13-10)

Class 4A girls

No. 1 Nickerson (21-2)

No. 3 KC Piper (21-2)

No. 4 Bishop Miege (21-2)

No. 7 Clay Center (16-6)

Class 3A boys

No. 2 Collegiate (21-3)

No. 3 Beloit (21-3)

No. 4 Galena (19-5)

No. 8 St. Marys (14-10)

Class 3A girls

No. 1 Nemaha Central (24-0)

No. 2 Frontenac (22-2)

No. 3 Halstead (21-3)

No. 5 Cheney (21-3)

Class 2A boys

No. 2 Bishop Seabury Academy (21-2)

No. 5 Sterling (20-4)

No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)

No. 8 Hillsboro (15-9)

Class 2A girls

No. 1 Spearville (24-0)

No. 2 Trego (23-1)

No. 4 Valley Heights (22-2)

No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)

Class 1A boys

No. 2 Little River (23-3)

No. 3 St. John-Hudson (23-3)

No. 5 South Central (21-5)

No. 8 Stockton (15-11)

Class 1A girls

No. 1 Central Plains (26-0)

No. 3 Olpe (26-0)

No. 4 Hanover (24-1)

No. 7 Centralia (19-8)

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