KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill South cruised into the Class 5 District 16 championship game with a 61-40 win against St. Joseph Central on Tuesday, March 1 at Oak Park High School.
The Panthers have now won seven straight, rebounding from a 1-4 start to Suburban Conference Red Division play to peak down the stretch. They enter the title game as defending champions after last year’s run to the Class 5 state championship game, which included a monumental state semifinal upset of Chaminade.
In the win against Central, Park Hill South freshman guard Desi Williams finished with a team-high 13 points to lead a quartet of double-figure scorers. Fellow freshman Lamel Robinson (12 points), senior guard Ryan Welty (11 points)and junior forward Conner Lee (10 points) also helped the Panthers pull away in the second half.
Up just 21-15 at halftime, Park Hill South ended the third quarter on a 19-5 run to take a commanding double-digit lead. The advantage swelled to 25 midway through the fourth quarter, and the Panthers held on to win for the second time in three meetings this season with Central.
Jaiden Bristol and Matt Austin, Central’s two standout senior guards, combined to score 22 points — a game-high 17 for Bristol.
Staley 71, Park Hill 66
The Falcons prevented the third straight intra-district district title game with a win in the other semifinal Tuesday, March 1 at Oak Park High School.
Park Hill lead 37-33 at halftime before a big second half from the Falcons sealed the upset. Seeded No. 4 coming into the matchup, Staley made 14 of 17 free throws overall and 9 of 10 in the final minute to hold on.
Park Hill senior guard Tanner Morrison scored a game-high 25 points, including a blistering shooting stretch in the second quarter turned a 27-25 deficit to a 37-27 lead. Staley ended the half on a 6-0 run and kept the momentum after the break.
Park Hill sophomore guard Willy Majok added 12, and junior guard Dru Smith added 10 to round out the Trojans in double figures.
Staley and Park Hill South met once earlier this season with the Panthers winning a December nonconference matchup 62-53.
Park Hill South 65, Liberty 60
The Panthers closed with a win against the Suburban Conference Red Division winners, giving their two seniors a victorious how farewell Friday, Feb. 26 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. Welty — an all-state senior forward — scored 13 points, but freshman Robinson (game-high 22 points) and junior guard Jacob Kline (16 points) were the top scorers.
Park Hill South finished 6-4 in Red Division play to come up alone in second, two games behind the Blue Jays. The Panthers won five straight in league play to close the regular season.
The second quarter turned out to be the key for Park Hill South against Liberty, outscored 17-9 in that 8 minutes. The Panthers closed out the game by shooting 25-for-28 on free throws.
Park Hill 88, Truman 65
The Trojans hit nine total 3-pointers in a blowout to close the regular season Friday, Feb. 26 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Majok hit two shots from outside and poured in a game-high 22 points, while Smith added three 3s and 19 points. Morrison (13 points, two 3s) and senior forward Tanner Zeil (11 points, one 3) rounded out the double-digit scorers.
Park Hill, which scored 22 or more points in each of the final three quarters, finished tied for third in the Red Division with a 5-5 record.
Park Hill South 69, Truman 49
The Panthers exacted some revenge Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Independence, Mo. during the second meeting with the Patriots.
After losing a big early lead earlier in the month, Park Hill South pulled away during the second and third quarters and didn’t look back. Welty scored a team-high 17 points, while Robinson added 15.
Park Hill South held Truman to just nine points in the second quarter and led by nine entering the second half. The Panthers outscored the Patriots 20-11 in the third quarter to pull away.
Ruskin 87, Park Hill 85, OT
The Eagles held on in what turned into a 3-point shooting contest Tuesday, Feb. 23 at Ruskin High School.
The two teams combined to hit 17 shots from beyond the arc with Ruskin hitting one more than the visitors. Zeil hit five of Park Hill’s eight and finished with 19 points, while Smith scored 20 with one 3-pointer. Majok (13 points) and Ronnie Bell (six points) also hit 3s.