Lions win 62-52, advance to substate championship
Junior Anthony Selden skied up for a thundering dunk, but was met with a adamant rejection from the rim. The rebound fell to senior Jackson Mallory, who was again denied by the cylinder.
This was demonstrative of the Lions general struggle in the first half to see shots of any kind fall. After a rough first half, the Lions were able to turn the game around and see out a rather convincing win in the opening round of postseason play, 62-52 against Shawnee Mission Northwest.
In the very beginning, the Lions came out strong, forcing the Cougars into an early timeout to halt a quick 6-0 run by the Lions to start the game. From there, consecutive buckets allowed the Cougars to get back into the game.
Both teams struggled with shooting in the first quarter, relying heavily upon driving to the basket. Senior Kobe Buffalomeat emphasized this for the Lions, as he was the majority of the team’s offense in the first half.
Having a considerable height and size advantage on the front court of the Cougars, Buffalomeat was able to create space inside and was the recipient of several delicate seal passes over the top from Mallory, which he then turned into easy layups.
The Lions lost control of the game as the Cougars were able to close out their chances inside, and they closed out the half on a 9-0 run, including a last second three-pointer to send the Lions into halftime down 20-29.
Out of the half, the Lions remained confident in their ability shooting the ball, and were rewarded for it early and often.
In the opening minute of the half, Mallory jumpstarted the Lions’ comeback by picking off a pass at the top of the key and racing past two defenders to finish a tough left handed layup.
Just minutes later, Mallory brought the Lions even closer with another steal. This time he sent his defender flying with a behind-the-back move and then bulleted a bounce pass between two defenders to a cutting sophomore Brett Chapple, who finished and drew a foul.
Then it was back to Buffalomeat, who again scored over the top, and then assisted sophomore Clarence King, and within no time at all, the Lions had taken the lead 34-33. They would hold that lead for the rest of the game.
Senior Austin Miller took the game over from there, hitting four three-pointers in a row along with a mid-range pull-up jumper, giving the Lions a comfortable double digit advantage they would not relinquish.
This run was capped off by a lob pass from King to Selden who slammed home the alley-oop to punctuate the Lions dominance in the second half.
In addition to the renewed offense, the Lions came out of half playing stifling defense, outscoring the Cougars 19-4 in the third quarter.
The closing minutes were much less tense for the Lions, ahead confidently. They were able to clear their bench and prepare for the next round of the playoffs.
The Lions will host the #3 seeded Shawnee Mission East Lancers at 7 P.M. this Friday in the substate championship. The winner will move on to the state tournament.