LHS basketball dukes it out with T-West in 45-43 win at invitational semifinal

Lawrence High junior Zaxton King talks to coach Mike Lewis during the game against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

A last-second basket by Lawrence High senior Zaxton King was enough to push the Lions past Topeka West 45-43 on Friday in the semifinal round of the Topeka Invitational. LHS will face either Wichita Southeast or Highland Park in Saturday’s finale.

When T-West tied the ballgame with 31 seconds to play, all the Lions needed was a single basket to control the lead and force the Chargers to foul. With nine seconds to make the play, senior Cole Watson found King near midcourt with just enough space to make the game-winning basket.

LHS coach Mike Lewis said his team stood tall when T-West came charging.

“You got to be in the moment, you’ve got to move on,” Lewis said. “Our guys hear that a lot, they want to move on to the next play but it’s much easier said than done in those moments where we feel like we’re in a great position to handle the end of the game and win.”

King led LHS (8-2) with 23 points, including three 3s. Seniors Jaylon Case and Kenton Simmons each added seven. Seniors Watson and Lance Bassett each chipped in four points. The Lions finished the night shooting 18 of 48 (39%) and 5 of 9 from the stripe.

Shots didn’t fall early on for LHS, as the Chargers jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the first quarter behind early scores from senior Malachi Berg and junior Caleb Noonoo.

LHS made up for its quiet start in the second quarter, fighting to within one possession of the Chargers with 6:50 left before the break. Two second-quarter 3s by King kept the Lions within reach, trailing T-West 23-20 at halftime.

After the break, King returned to the floor and earned four-straight points to send LHS ahead for the first time since early on in the first quarter. The Lions found more success inside, with six third-quarter points coming between senior posts Bassett, Watson and Simmons.

Topeka West fought back, taking a slim 36-35 lead into the fourth quarter, but Lewis felt Simmons played one of his most physical games of the season Friday night.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior senior Cole Watson is jubilant against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

“I thought Kenton had a really, really good game,” Lewis said. “He didn’t play as well yesterday (vs. Topeka High), and today I thought he did a lot better. We’re taking on our opponents with everybody and it’s heated. He felt very good but also drained.”

Both squads opened the fourth quarter without a basket for over three minutes until Simmons nailed a short jumper to place the Lions ahead 37-36 with 4:36 left to go. Simmons also came up big late, finding a tight layup on an assist by Watson to place LHS ahead by four with 2:17 remaining.

An and-one basket by T-West’s Berg made it a one-possession game, with LHS leading 43-40 and 1:13 left. T-West tied the game at 43-43 following another trip to the free-throw line by Berg and a steal-turned-score by senior Xavier Alexander.

The late stand by the Chargers resulted in one last inbound play from LHS and King’s game-winning layup. LHS returns to Topeka tomorrow for the final round of the tournament slated for 1:45 p.m. at Topeka West High School.

BOXSCORE:

Lawrence High (45): King 8-18, 4-6, 23; Case 3-8, 0-0, 7; Simmons 3-6, 1-3, 7; Bassett 2-3, 0-0, 4; Watson 2-3, 0-0 4. Totals: 18-46, 5-9, 45.

Topeka West (43): Alexander 5-8, 4-5 15; Berg 4-5, 3-4, 11; Noonoo 3-4, 1-1, 7; Austin 1-3, 0-0 3; Paul 1-1, 1-2 3. Totals: 16-31, 9-13, 43.

3FGs: LHS 4-14 (King 3, Case 1); T-West 2-8 (Alexander 1, Austin 1). TOs: LHS 9; T-West 13. Fouled out: none.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior Kenton Simmons (15) is helped up by his teammates during the game against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior Will Leuschen passes the ball against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior Jaylon Case shoots the ball against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High junior Zaxton King lays the ball in against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior Macade Lewis shoots the ball against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High junior Zaxton King shoots the ball against Topeka West. Lawrence High advances to the final with a 45-43 victory during the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

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