Lawrence boys overcome slow start in 51-38 win over Shawnee Mission Northwest
photo by: Chance Parker
After a sluggish first half, Lawrence High’s boys basketball team completely flipped the script over the final two quarters to secure a 51-38 win over Shawnee Mission Northwest Friday night at LHS.
The Lions, who are ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, were held scoreless in the first quarter. They then returned the favor by keeping the Cougars (No. 9 in Class 6A) off the scoreboard for the entire third quarter to set the tone for a second half that belonged completely to the hosts.
Lawrence improved to 11-1 on the year with the win, earning its third consecutive victory since falling to top-ranked Blue Valley Northwest on the road.
“I think it just shows our guys have a toughness about them,” LHS head coach Mike Lewis said after his team’s latest win. “They realized that they just weren’t very good (in the first half) and decided to come out and let it go and move onto the second half.”
“We just decided to not let this one get away and tough it out,” Lewis added.
It took just 32 seconds at the start of the third period to realize that things were going to be different for the Lions in the second half.
Trailing 20-13 at the break, Lawrence scored on the opening possession of the second half by a triple from the corner via junior Pearse Long. Moments later, Long managed to draw his second charge of the night to force a turnover by the Cougars on their first trip.
And that sequence really got everything started for the Lions.
“That just helped me and my energy a lot,” said Long, who led the team with 10 rebounds in the win. “I’ll admit it, I was down. After that, it just got the crowd and the bench going. From there, we just did good.”
Long credited Lewis’ speech at halftime for Lawrence’s sudden boost to begin the third quarter. He also complimented senior Jackson Dooley for speaking to the team during its shootaround at halftime.
But Long, a 6-foot-5 stretch forward, was the main source of Lawrence’s newfound energy, especially early in the third quarter. After drawing the charge, Long created another turnover on Shawnee Mission Northwest’s second possession by stealing the ball from junior Dante Wheatcroft.
Moments later, Long delivered a strong block on a shot attempt from Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Michael Harris.
“I think he just decided to step up and be tough,” Lewis said. “He showed that he’s got a big heart. He wants to play hard. He didn’t want to let that one get away.”
Behind Long’s contributions, the Lions really got into a rhythm in the third quarter to seize control of the contest. They scored 17 unanswered points during that eight-minute period.
Senior guard Zeke Mayo, who paced the team with 20 points in the win, scored a trio of buckets during that stretch. He netted a baseline floater that gave Lawrence its first lead of the night at the 4:35 mark.
Mayo also made a layup on an impressive effort from junior guard Truman Juelsgaard, which started on the defensive end. Juelsgaard recorded a steal near the perimeter and found Mayo in transition for the layup.
Lawrence’s defense held Shawnee Mission Northwest to an 0-for-8 clip in the third quarter, while forcing four turnovers as well. At one point, both Dooley and Juelsgaard dove for a loose ball and it led to a big celebration from the bench even though Shawnee Mission Northwest maintained possession.
“Our guys decided to buckle in and play hard,” Lewis said. “Defensively, I thought we were really good.”
None of those plays were on display in the first half, as Lawrence seemed discombobulated on the offensive end.
The Lions struggled to find good looks against the Cougars’ zone defense, going 0-for-13 during the first quarter. Mayo’s triple with 7:25 left in the second period was Lawrence’s first basket of the night, and didn’t come until after Shawnee Mission Northwest had jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
“Their zone had some different looks to it,” Lewis said. “We just got so stagnant, and so just deer in the headlights. We quit playing and we were thinking. We just needed to play, and we were desperate for a basket.”
The baskets eventually started to fall, and Long was able to join Mayo in double figures as a result. Long finished with 12 points in the win. He continues to show the ability to take what the defense gives him by being able to get his points inside or along the perimeter.
“He is just starting to blossom and get into his role offensively,” Lewis said. “He gives us a balanced attack.”
“My role is to score and get rebounds,” Long added. “I play good defense and that’s just the main thing I do.”
As Friday proved, Long becoming more comfortable with his role should make Lawrence even more dangerous entering the postseason. For now, Lawrence will travel to Shawnee Mission East (No. 10 in Class 6A) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
SM Northwest (38)
Billy Dillon 3-5 4-4 12, Dante Wheatcroft 4-9 0-0 9, Damare Smith 3-13 0-2 7, Landon Wagler 2-10 3-6 7, Michael Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Ty Blecha 0-3 0-0 0, Isaiah VolaVongsa 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 13-43 FG 7-12 FT 38 points.
Zeke Mayo 8-12 3-3 20, Truman Juelsgaard 1-6 1-2 3, Jackson Dooley 3-6 0-0 6, Grant Cleavinger 1-6 2-2 4, Pearse Long 5-16 1-1 12, Avion Nelson 3-9 0-0 6, Jack Ryan 0-1 0-0 0, Ntense Obono 0-1 0-0 0, Corban Oberzan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-57 FG 7-8 FT 51 points.
SM Northwest 10 10 0 18 — 38
Lawrence High 0 13 17 21 — 51
3-point goals: SMNW 5-17 (Dillon 2, Wheatcroft, Smith, VolaVongasa); LHS 2-19 (Mayo, Long). Turnovers: SMNW 17; LHS 9. Fouled out: None.