Scots take down LHS boys in title game of Topeka Invitational
Topeka — Lawrence High boys basketball fell short of the crown at the Topeka Invitational Tournament on Saturday, losing to Highland Park 58-47 in the final round.
Trailing by as much as 13, the Lions (8-3) fought their way to within five points of the Scots but couldn’t stop Highland Park from the stripe late in the game. LHS senior Zaxton King led the Lions with 26 total points, including a perfect 10 of 10 shooting from the free-throw line. Fellow seniors Kenton Simmons and Lance Bassett each added six points for LHS.
LHS coach Mike Lewis said his group stretched its endurance this week, fitting in three competitive ballgames and traveling up and down I-70 West since Thursday.
“I thought our composure was really good,” Lewis said. “(Highland Park) paced the game well and they finished well. I felt like maybe we ran out of gas a little bit, but we played hard and gave ourselves every chance.”
Highland Park sophomore Jacorey Robinson scored six points off the bench, guiding the Scots toward a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. LHS opened the game shooting 3 of 14 heading into the second quarter.
The Scots struggled to find the rim late in the second quarter, as the Lions kept them from finding a field goal for stretches as long as two minutes. King tried to help LHS out of its hole, trailing 27-19 at halftime, with eight first-half points and a perfect 6 of 6 start from the stripe.
Lewis said King’s performance at the stripe, finishing with a game-high 10 of 10 free-throw shooting, represents a core part of the Lions’ weekly preparation.
“It comes with reps and it comes with rhythm and just getting in your vibe,” Lewis said. “As a group, sometimes one guy hits a couple and then everybody else starts to hit a couple. We did rely on Zaxton there towards the end to get downhill.”
Four third-quarter turnovers hurt LHS’ return to the floor and effectively erased the 3 of 3 shooting that brought the Lions within five early in the third. Highland Park senior Ketraleus Aldridge entered double-figure scoring (13) before the third quarter wrapped with LHS staring down a 39-29 deficit.
King stepped up late from the field, scoring 12 consecutive points to bring LHS within seven points of the Scots, trailing 48-41 with 3:55 remaining. Subbing in for senior Kenton Simmons, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, Lions senior Lance Bassett nailed two critical free throws to bring the deficit to seven, trailing 52-45 with 1:30 left.
With a road trip to Olathe South on the horizon Friday, Lewis said his team took away an important lesson about teamwork this weekend in Topeka.
“You’ve got to dig in and continue to play as a team,” Lewis said. “That won’t change.
“Next Friday, we’ve got to take them on as a team. And when you play three in a row, it’s also a little bit about endurance and surviving that part of the game, too. Everybody says it, but this prepares you for a three-game stretch down in Wichita so you can look back in January and see how you responded and see what adjustments you need to make.”
Forced to foul late, LHS couldn’t keep the Scots from pulling away at the free-throw line.
Lawrence High (47): King 7-13, 10-10, 26; Simmons 3-5, 0-0, 6; Bassett 1-2, 4-6, 6; Ostronic 1-2, 1-2, 3; Case 1-5, 0-0 2; Watson 1-4, 0-0, 2. Totals: 15-36, 15-18, 47.
Highland Park (58): Aldridge 8-8, 4-5, 20; Robinson 3-5, 7-8, 13; Richardson 4-5, 0-0 8; Kingcannon 2-9, 1-2, 7; Anderson 2-5, 0-0, 5; Adams 0-2, 3-3, 3; Wilson 1-1, 0-2, 2. Totals: 20-39, 15-20, 58.
3FGs: LHS 2-9 (King 2); HP 3-13 (Kingcannon 2, Anderson 1). TOs: LHS 6; HP 7. Fouled out: Simmons (5).