The Panthers advanced to the championship game of the Liberty North Invitational for the second straight year but ended up in triple overtime against the hosts. Parra ended up relying heavily on his freshmen with fouls piling up during the extra sessions, and Liberty North eventually pulled away for a 67-60 win Friday, Dec. 11 at Liberty North High School despite trailing by 13 going into the fourth quarter.
Park Hill South returned just two starters from last year’s Class 5 state runner-up, including leading scorer Ryan Welty, but the new wave of talent also features a lot of inexperience.
“We knew we had a chance to be pretty good in January,” Parra said. “We thought we’d hit our stride then. We kind of looked forward to that part where we really grow up. This week we really grew up a lot. I think we’re even ahead of the schedule I saw us having. When we can compete with Park Hill and Liberty North on back-to-back nights on Liberty North’s home court, I think it showed a lot of the young kids they aren’t afraid of the big moment.”
Lamel Robinson and Desi Williams — both freshmen guards — combined for 32 points for Park Hill South, and they accounted for 10 of the Panthers’ 12 points in the three overtimes.
Park Hill South nearly lost at the end of the first four-minute extra session. Welty forged a tie on two free throws with 17.1 seconds left, but the Eagles held possession with a chance to win. The play ended with a missed shot and a mad scramble for a loose ball. Liberty North’s Garret Burns went up with a shot at the buzzer, and the referees whistled a foul.
After a lengthy huddle, the referees ultimately decided that the foul occurred after the buzzer, and the game went to a second overtime.
Welty fouled out early in that period with 12 points, leaving no one taller than 6-foot 2 to deal with Michael Hughes, a 6-foot-9 power forward who scored 20 points. He used the lack of size to send the game to a third OT with a bruising inside move that tied things at 56 with less than 5 seconds to go.
Park Hill South’s Jacob Kline — a junior guard who started much of the second half of last season — didn’t get his half-court heave off in time, and the shot bricked off the glass anyway.
“It was rough, because I’m used to playing most of the game,” said Welty, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team. “I’m not used to sitting on the bench that much. I was dying to get back out there. The guys held it down and got it to a third overtime.”
Park Hill South held a pair of early leads in the third overtime, but Kline also fouled out, finishing with six points. Liberty North then scored the final eight points to seal the win. Robinson, who scored a team-high 17 points, missed a tying 3-pointer from the wing in the final minute, and the Eagles hit four free throws in the final 10 seconds to provide the final margin.
Park Hill South led 44-31 at the end of the third quarter after Kline hit a heavily contested lay-in at the buzzer. The Panthers scored just four points in the fourth quarter, and Liberty North stormed back to lead 48-46 with 35.2 seconds left in regulation on a 3-pointer from Dominic Fragola — the Eagles’ first lead since scoring the game’s opening basket.
On the ensuing possession, Robinson stepped up and hit a jump shot from 11 feet out to the score again.
Liberty North still had one final chance to win it in regulation. After a near-turnover forced a timeout from the home side, Hughes could not convert on the inbounds play with 4 seconds to go, leading to 12 extra minutes of play.
St. Joseph Central 70, Park Hill 52
A disastrous third quarter pushed the Trojans losing streak to two games in the third-place game Friday, Dec. 11 at Liberty North High School.
Park Hill opened the game with nine unanswered points, but little went right after that point. The Indians went on a 13-1 run to end the first quarter. Park Hill trailed by as many as five in the second quarter before fighting back to a 25-24 deficit at the half.
A 10-1 and eventually 15-2 run started the third quarter for Central. The Trojans were not back within single digits after that point.
Brandon Townsell scored a team-high 10 points for Park Hill and earned a spot on the Liberty North Invitational all-tournament team. Trojans junior forward Chester Graves scored eight, and senior forward Tanner Zeil added seven, including one of four 3-pointers. Tory Wright (five points), Ronnie Bell (seven) and Townsell hit the others.
Park Hill South 78, Park Hill 76, OT
The Panthers ran their winning streak in the rivalry series to four straight with Robinson hitting the game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds left.
Park Hill led 52-41 in the fourth quarter, but 21 turnovers doomed the Trojans to the loss despite a quartet of double-digit scorers. Park Hill South slowly closed the gap but still trailed 63-56 with 1:16 to go in regulation.
Williams tied the score at 63 for Park Hill South with a pair of free throws to force overtime with 2.9 seconds to play.
The overtime went back and forth with Williams hitting two more clutch free throws to put the Panthers up 76-73 with 22.9 seconds to go. However, Park Hill’s Peyton LaFerla (15 points) tied the score at 76 with a three-point play, setting up Robinson’s game-winner.
Welty led Park Hill South with 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Kline added 18 points, eight assists and only one turnover. Robinson and Williams combined for 26 points and 13 assists.
Townsell led Park Hill with 16 points and five assists, while Smith matched LaFerla with 15. Zeil finished with 13. Townsell and Zeil hit a pair of 3-pointers apiece.
Park Hill 64, Kearney 50
Smith scored 23 points and hit four 3-pointers in the Trojans first win of the season in the opening round Tuesday, Dec. 8 in Liberty , Mo. Townsell was Park Hill’s only other double-digit scorer with 14.
Kearney trailed 32-20 at halftime.
Park Hill South 66, Central Academy 44
Welty put up 19, and Kline added 15, combining for five of the Panthers’ six 3s in the opening round Tuesday, Dec. 8 in Liberty, Mo.
Park Hill South pulled away with 26 points in the third quarter, while limiting the Blue Eagles to nine. That turned an eight-point halftime advantage into a 25-point lead with 8 minutes to play.
St. Joseph Lafayette 69, Platte County 42
The Fighting Irish avoided a second straight upset loss against the Pirates on Friday, Dec. 11 at MWSU Fieldhouse in St. Joseph, Mo.
Tied after the first quarter, Lafayette pulled away with a big second quarter and weren’t challenged. Platte County won the previous meeting in last year’s Class 4 District 16 semifinals, upsetting the No. 1-ranked Irish on the way to the title game.
However, Platte County lost all five starters from that team. Kobe Cummings led the Pirates with 12 points off the bench, but they were down 37-24 at halftime and were outscored 21-10 in the final 8 minutes.
Cummings’ 3-pointer in the first quarter gave Platte County a brief 11-9 lead, but the teams were tied at 13 entering the second.
North Kansas City 47, Platte County 44
The Pirates lost their early lead, and their 3-point try at the fourth quarter buzzer hit the front iron, allowing the Hornets to escape Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Platte County High School.
Platte County’s Isaiah Ewing, a senior guard, led all scorers with 13 points, while senior forward Nick Kunels added 11. The Pirates made more shots from the floor (17-15) but allowed North Kansas City to take 21 free throw attempts total.
North Kansas City did not have a double-digit scorer.
Platte County led 13-9 after the first quarter and 23-19 at halftime but managed just five points in the third quarter. The Hornets tallied 14 in each of the final two quarters and ended up with five players scoring at least six points.
Park Hill South 62, Kearney 47
Kline scored 16 points, going 11-for-12 on free throws, to help the Panthers bounce back from the Liberty North Invitational championship game loss Monday, Dec. 14 in Kearney, Mo. Welty added 15 points while the Panthers’ freshman duo of Robinson and Williams added 12 and 10, respectively. Park Hill South went 19-for-21 on free throws and hit five 3s — two apiece for Welty and Williams and one for Kline.
Kearney scored just five points in the second quarter and trailed 29-19 at halftime. Park Hill South outscored the Bulldogs 19-11 in the fourth quarter to pull away.