NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill South endured a long shooting drought in the first quarter of the championship game of the North Kansas City Invitational, Friday, Jan. 23 at North Kansas City High School.
South scored just seven points in the opening frame and Raymore-Peculiar took full advantage on the way to a 54-48 win to claim the tournament crown. The low output in the opening 8 minutes proved to be too much to overcome.
“We’ve got to learn to be able to win when we don’t make very many shots,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “It was one of those where we were like, ‘OK, we aren’t making shots. What do we do?’ We have been shooting the ball so well the last two weeks so it was hard for us to adjust out of it.”
Ray-Pec enjoyed a 10 point lead after the first with 17 points. By half time the Panthers held a 25-17 lead, getting 12 from big man James Sappington.
“They were a tough team,” South junior Ryan Welty said. “They out-rebounded us. They were just tougher than us tonight. We need to get back Monday and work on rebounding and boxing out — the basics.”
Sappington and Nick Janssen each poured in a game-high 18 points for Ray-Pec — the tournament’s No. 2 seed. Janssen scored 16 of his 18 after halftime with eight coming in the final frame after South cut the game to a single possession deficit — 36-33 — after three. South had multiple opportunities down one possession to get a stop and tie the game but was never able to come up with the defense.
“We just didn’t get the stop we needed, the key rebound when we needed to get it,” Parra said. “It just felt like we were always playing from more than one possession down. I never felt like we could get over the hump and get that key defensive stop when we needed it. I think we spent so much energy coming back that once we were within one possession it was hard to maintain the energy throughout. We went back to doing things that weren’t very successful and got us deeper in the hole.”
Easton Fortuna led Park Hill South with 14 points including four 3-pointers. Ryan Welty and James Byrd hit one apiece to finish with 10 and seven points respectively.
“I was just trying to get my team going again,” Fortuna said. “We were struggling early. Coming off the bench it’s my job to get the effort up, the energy up. I was just trying to do my job, sometimes they fall sometimes they don’t.”
Forward Allen Hyatt was the only other South player to reach double figures with 10 points. Mitch Henderson — seven points — cut the game to a 29-28 deficit late in the third quarter but South never led in the game.
South was attempting to repeat as champions in the 65th annual tournament. South defeated Winnetonka 58-29 in the title game a season ago to claim the title.
Park Hill South boys 72, North Kansas City 50
Welty, Byrd and Hyatt all scored in double-figures during the Panthers’ semifinal win on Wednesday, Jan. 21 to reach the championship.
Overall, Park Hill South shot 21 of 25 on free throws in a dominant effort that included a 45-18 halftime lead. Welty led the way with 19 points, hitting three of the Panthers’ five 3-pointers.
Park Hill South boys 85, Oak Park 51
The Panthers tallied 71 points in the first three quarters and drained 15 3-pointers. Byrd hit six shots from outside on his way to a game-high 20 points, while Fortuna (four, 14 points), Welty (three, 15 points) and Jacob Klein (two, six points) rounded out the outside barrage. Hyatt totaled 18 points to provide the inside presence for the Panthers, who hit 33 field goals while making all four of their free throw attempts.
Park Hill South outscored the Northmen 28-7 in the third quarter, pushing the Panthers’ advantage to 71-35 at that point.