KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fans filled just about every available space inside the gymnasium at Park Hill High School on Friday, Jan. 30.
People flocked to see the first edition of the Park Hill School District rivalry with the lead in the Suburban League Red Division on the line. Park Hill South trailed early but pulled away late for a 69-54 win against the Trojans in front of a charged crowd.
Park Hill South improved to 13-3 and 2-0 in league play, while Park Hill dropped to 13-4 and into a four-way tie for second at 1-1.
“What a great high school basketball game,” first-year Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “It was a great crowd, the atmosphere. It was two really good teams playing. It came down to who got more stops when they needed it.”
Park Hill South didn’t make the stops early but eventually did enough to limit the defending district champions and their Division I standout.
Trojans guard Landry Shamet, signed to Wichita State, scored 11 points — five in the first quarter to help build a 14-13 lead after 8 minutes — but fouled out with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left. Louis Reinmmiller (12 points), signed to play at Central Missouri, fouled out with 1:57 to play.
Park Hill South took full advantage, making 16 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter to keep Park Hill at bay.
“We’ve got to get tougher,” Park Hill coach David Garrison said. “I thought Park Hill South played a great game. They played very strong and very confident. We got out of our rhythm, and we can’t do that in these games. When we get in foul trouble and some kids are on the bench, that changes the roles of our team; that makes it difficult. It’s a learning situation, and we’ve got to get better.”
Park Hill South grabbed the momentum near the halftime break with a highlight reel play.
James Byrd (16 points) drove down the lane on a give-and-go fastbreak and dished the ball across the lane to Ryan Welty, who was unguarded after Byrd’s drive. The junior forward finished with a two-hand slam in the final minute of the second quarter.
Park Hill answered with a basket but still trailed 29-24 at halftime.
“I got the steal, and I passed it up to James,” said Welty, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “He gave me a great pass, and I decided to dunk it. It felt really good and it hyped up our crowd, too. The crowd was awesome. That’s the best it’s been all year. They were a key factor in our win so shout out to them.”
Park Hill South led 45-35 after three quarters and were up by 19 with 5:05 to play shortly after Shamet picked up his fifth foul. Byrd went 8-for-9 from the line in the final quarter, while the Panthers hit 28 of 33 free throws overall in the win.
Byrd has started to take control on offense for Park Hill South during its recent surge, especially with strong 3-point shooting although he didn’t hit any against the Trojans.
“James for a while there was struggling offensively,” Parra said. “His shot wasn’t falling. It was hard to get him in the flow. He did a good job realizing, ‘Hey, I can pass the ball. I can drive the ball. I can try to get to the free throw line more.’ James is slowly becoming a great leader for us and really the heart and soul of our team when it’s all said and done.”
The two rivals are slated to meet again February 13 at Park Hill South.
Last year, the Panthers won both meetings in Suburban League play before Park Hill upset them in the Class 5 District 15 championship game to break a playoff drought of more than 20 years. They will be the favorites to be at the top of the league and the top two seeds in this year’s Class 5 District 16 field after the bi-annual realignment.
Park Hill boys 66, Liberty 56
Four players scored in double figures with a pair of 3-pointers each for the Trojans, who survived a second-half push in a road game Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Liberty High School.
Reinmiller led the way with 18, while Wilson (16), Shamet (16) and Zeil (10) followed behind in the state sheet. The quartet combined to shoot 8 of 16 on 3-pointers, a big lift after Liberty’s third quarter charge with hot shooting of its own. The Blue Jays also totaled eight 3s made.
Shamet added five assists, three blocks and two steals, while Reinmiller grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Wilson capped the win with a dunk to just beat the buzzer and create the double-digit margin.
Park Hill South boys 69, St. Joseph Central 46
The Panthers limited the visiting Indians to just five points in the third quarter on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Byrd continued his recent hot shooting, tallying a game-high 18 points with four 3-pointers.
Welty and Allen Hyatt added 10 apiece.
Park Hill South hit 10 3s total, including a pair apiece for Welty and Easton Fortuna. The Panthers led 34-22 at halftime and extended that lead to 21 in the next 8 minutes, outscoring Central 14-5 in the third quarter.