Hoops Roundup: Raytown South escapes FSHS boys in overtime season-opener

photo by: Landon Cory/Special to the Journal-World

Free State senior Devon Hamilton shoots a 3-pointer in front of the Raytown South bench on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Overland Park.

Prairie Village – An edge-of-your-seat overtime battle didn’t quite pan out for Free State and first-year head boys basketball coach Dwayne Paul on Tuesday. The Firebirds fell to Raytown South (Mo.) 71-70 in the first round of the Varsity Classic at Shawnee Mission High School.

A game-high 24 points by junior Malik Tillman, along with a 23-point performance by senior Travon Henderson, overwhelmed FSHS late, allowing South to complete the comeback in four minutes of overtime. Tillman finished shooting a perfect 14 of 14 from the charity stripe.

Exposing his team to overtime pressure this early in the season wasn’t necessarily on Paul’s bingo card, the former Hayden Catholic coach said.

“You can tell it’s their fourth game and our first game,” Paul said. “They were more in tune with what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. I told our guys that I take responsibility for that loss at the end because we hadn’t worked on that situation.”

photo by: Landon Cory/Special to the Journal-World

Free State senior Dash Johnson drives the paint against Raytown South on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Overland Park.

Initially, the Firebirds (0-1) were the ones in control. Senior Dash Johnson, on his way to a team-high 17 points, knocked down four 3s before the first quarter wrapped. Junior Korbin Dowdell also added to the scoring barrage with 16 points.

Coming off the bench, sophomore big man Hueston Saunders chipped in 13 points to mix.

The early production led the Firebirds’ early 12-4 surge four minutes into the contest. Another three-point basket, this time by Dowdell, sent FSHS up by nine points, 23-14, heading into the second quarter.

Mixed 2s by Henderson, junior Kanai Brown and Tillman sapped the Firebirds’ momentum, bringing the Cardinals within as little as five with under four minutes to play in the half.

A 3-point basket by junior Alphonso Eason gave the Firebirds some space, heading into the break leading South 37-31.

Paul, pleased with his support off the bench from guys like Eason, said his staff will continue to mix and match names on the floor to match the depth across the Sunflower League.

“I’m proud of those guys, especially in their first varsity contest, but in this league, you’re going to have a lot of games like this and fewer games where you might get blown out by 15 or 20 points,” Paul said.

photo by: Landon Cory/Special to the Journal-World

Free State junior Marco Simac wins the opening tip-off against Raytown South on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Overland Park.

South returned to the floor with a 9-3 run, tying the game at 40 midway through the third quarter. Eleven third-quarter points by Henderson helped the Cardinals keep things knotted up at 48 apiece entering the fourth quarter.

Another 3-pointer from Dowdell kept FSHS regularly capturing the lead late in regulation, but FSHS, up by three, squandered its narrow lead late when Wesley Edison fouled Tillman behind the arc with nine seconds left.

Those free points were arguably the lifeblood of South’s overtime run, which saw eight more points by Tillman push the Cardinals over the Firebirds. When asked about his team’s defense, Paul said there’s a long way to go discipline-wise.

“On a scale of 1 to 100, we’re probably at about a 45 or a 50,” Paul said. “We’re decent when things are going well, but we’re not good when things aren’t going well … Right now we’re not even halfway to where we need to be. We’re giving up way too many straight-line drives, but that’s going to come with more practice and attention to detail.”

FSHS will meet the winner of Blue Valley North/Pembroke Hill on Thursday. Tipoff is slated for 4:30 p.m.


Free State (70) Wesley Edison 3-5 3-4 9; Devon Hamilton 1-3 3-3 6; Korbin Dowdell 6-14 0-0 16; Dash Johnson 6-11 0-2 17; Marco Simac 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 23-42 13-17 70.

Raytown South (71) Malik Tillman 5-11 14-14 24; Travon Henderson 10-12 1-1 23; Nasir Simpson 3-5 2-2 8; Kanai Brown 4-7 1-2 10; Cordell Holley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 24-38 20-21 71.

LHS boys fall to Republic on the road

Chalking up a second consecutive road loss on Tuesday, Lawrence High’s boys basketball team fell to Republic High (Mo.) 59-47 in the first round of the Blue Valley Shootout. Down 23-21 at the half, the Chesty Lions (0-2) struggled to get a clean stab at the Tigers down the stretch.

LHS, led by senior Zaxton King’s 27 points, took another step toward cohesive play, first-year coach Nick Wood said. Wood hopes to sniff out more clues when his group returns to the floor on Thursday in the fifth and sixth-place bracket.

Junior Avery Johnson added 11 points and sophomore Josh Galbreath pulled down 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss.

“Our group battled hard and I felt there were stretches in the game where we started to jell and figure out who we are going to be as a team,” Wood said.

LHS will meet the winner of Olathe South/Lee’s Summit on Thursday. Tipoff is slated for 3:15 p.m.

Seabury boys roll past Hartford in season-opener

Opening the season on a high note, Bishop Seabury’s boys basketball squad rocked Hartford 90-19 in the first round of the Valley Tip-Off tournament on Tuesday.

Senior Aidan Page and sophomore Jace Hoffman broke into double digit scoring to pave the way for the win. Denying much of anything offensively by the Jaguars, Seabury juniors Chase Honarvar and Jace Smith each logged a double-double working hard in the paint.

The Seahawks advance to the second round of the Valley Tip-Off on Friday. Opponent and time are TBD.

LHS girls overwhelm Washington in season-opener on the road

Running up the numbers, Lawrence High’s girls basketball team overcame a shaky start to outpace Washington High 85-27 on the road Tuesday night.

Four Lions – freshman Cami Nauholz (18 points), senior Cyrenity Hardy (15 points), junior Brynnae Johnson (14 points) and senior Emma Roman Nose (12 points) – scored in double digits. Senior Azura Clark and sophomore Jada Baars-Turner each chipped in eight points each.

The game featured contributions from every corner of the Lions’ roster, LHS head coach Jeff Dickson said.

“We had a shaky start tonight but the girls regrouped nicely and really shared the play,” Dickson said. “Emma Roman Nose really added energy and a spark for us with her defense and extra effort. Cyrenity Hardy went on a 10-0 run herself off of some great passing by Brynnae Johnson. Total team effort.”

LHS’ first big test of the season awaits on Friday night when Olathe South comes to town. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.