But nothing comes easy in the series with Park Hill South, and the two intra-district rivals played to another exciting finish that won’t soon be forgotten. Ryan Welty helped Park Hill South erase a 22-point deficit, but Park Hill held on for a 66-61 win at Park Hill South High School, ending a four-game losing streak against the Panthers.
Park Hill South junior guard Jacob Kline hit a late 3-pointer to give the Panthers a brief one-point lead, but Park Hill avoided the collapse with a 5-0 run in the final minutes.
“Our kids did a great job of responding,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said. “They kept their composure in a real hostile environment and responded to the call. I couldn’t be more proud of the way they finished off the game tonight.”
Park Hill’s most recent win in the series came in the 2014 Class 5 District 16 championship game.
Park Hill South beat the Trojans three times last season, including a rematch in the district title game. The Panthers also staged a comeback to win first meeting of this season, which came in the semifinals of the Liberty North Invitational.
Park Hill led early again last week in the first of two Suburban Conference Red Division matchups of the season. Tanner Zeil hit a pair of 3s in a frantic first quarter on his way to a team-high 16 points for the Trojans, and senior forward Kentrez Bell added eight of his 11.
“It was crazy,” Zeil said. “We were locked in. My teammates were getting me the ball. I think it really helped us plus we were playing good defense. That helps us out. Recently, our defense has been struggling a little bit, just a lack of cohesiveness, so it felt good.”
Park Hill started the second quarter on a 14-1 run, bringing the lead to 34-14, and the advantage grew to as much as 22. Peyton LaFerla came off the bench to score four of his 11 points on a pair of putbacks during the surge.
However, Kline and Dawson Owen each hit a 3 late in the second quarter to bring Park Hill South within 36-24 at halftime — the same as the 12-point deficit the Panthers faced in the first meeting.
Once again, Park Hill South managed to erase the deficit, starting with a 5-0 run for Welty — honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point a week prior — to start the third quarter. That cut Park Hill’s lead to single digits, and he scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half despite dogged defense from LaFerla and Bell.
“Coach having me be one of the people guarding him is an honor,” LaFerla said. “He got his share of points, but it felt good to hold him to what he got because he is a good player.”
Welty gave Park Hill South its first lead since the midpoint of the first quarter on a floater with 5 minutes, 44 seconds to play in regulation. Kline’s 3 came 2 minutes later, his third of the game on the way to 17 points, to make it 54-53 with 3:45 to go.
That turned out to be Park Hill South’s final lead.
“We fought back,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “I think we spent a lot of energy fighting back. I think after we took the lead we kind of relaxed for a little bit. We were like, ‘Finally, we have the lead again; we’re in it.’ Then boom they punched us in the mouth and got the last run.”
LaFerla started the run with a turnaround jumper, and Park Hill junior guard Dru Smith capped it with a transition pass that provided Zeil with an easy layup with 2:22 to go. Smith split a pair of free throws in between, and the Trojans didn’t trail again.
Smith finished with 12 points, another key contributor to end a losing streak that weighed on the minds of him and other experienced players in the lineup.
“We were out for blood,” Zeil said.
Grandview 45, Platte County 36
The Pirates allowed 19 points in the fourth quarter, losing the lead in an otherwise tight matchup Tuesday, Jan. 26 at Platte County High School.
Kobe Cummings scored 10 points off the bench for Platte County, which attempted only eight free throws and made three. Grandview went to the line 17 times and hit 13.
Liberty 60, Park Hill 59
The Blue Jays snapped a seven-game losing streak, scoring the go-ahead basket with less than a minute to play Tuesday, Jan. 26 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Park Hill’s final possession ended in a jump ball that gave possession to Liberty. After a foul, the Blue Jays missed the front end of a one-and-one situation at the free throw line. Park Hill rebounded but the desperation shot missed.
Limited to just five points in the second quarter, Park Hill trailed 29-23 at halftime. Smith led the Trojans with 12 points and helped them get back to tied entering the final quarter. Liberty hit seven 3-pointer overall.
St. Joseph Central 47, Park Hill South 38
Welty and Kline did nearly all the scoring for the Panthers in a league loss Tuesday, Jan. 26 in St. Joseph, Mo.
The Park Hill South duo combined for 28 points, but Central limited thte Panthers to just 10 points total in the first half. The Indians led 17-10 at the break and held off all minor charges from there.
Welty scored 16 and Kline 12, combining for all three of Park Hill South’s 3-pointers.