Once confirmed, the celebration commenced in full force for the Panthers after completing a fourth straight regular-season sweep of rival Park Hill with a 61-58 win on Friday, Feb. 13. Deionte Wilson’s deep 3-point try from the left wing on Park Hill’s final possession drew all air at Park Hill South High School, and the Panthers were assured of a two-game lead in the Suburban League Red Division standings.
However, Park Hill South and Park Hill will likely meet again in next month’s Class 5 District 16 tournament after earning the top two seeds in the bracket, released this past weekend. Last year, Park Hill upset the Panthers in the title game to break a two-decade-plus playoff drought.
“We’ve got three rounds of this; we’ve got one more round,” said Park Hill South senior James Byrd, who put the Panthers up for good with a pull-up jumper from the free throw line with just less than 2 minutes to play.
Byrd scored nine of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, including seven in the final 2 minutes after going scoreless for a span of more than 16 minutes resulting in a brief benching midway through the fourth quarter.
However, key contributions from 6-foot-6 senior reserve Teeng Akoi couldn’t be ignored. He blocked a shot and then saved the ball from going out of bounds by tossing it to Byrd, who dribbled up court before hitting the go-ahead jumper. Byrd then hit 5-of-6 free throws in the remainder to help fend off Park Hill’s final charge.
Akoi finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
“He was huge,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “He’s so long and athletic, and he doesn’t know the game real well but he’s learning. He’s going to be a huge part of this.”
Park Hill South prevailed in a wild back-and-forth affair that started with the hosts opening up a 19-5 lead, and Park Hill erasing that advantage in less than 2 minutes.
The home student section clad mostly in white remained mostly quiet during a self-imposed plan for a “silent night” until the Panthers reached 10 points. Allen Hyatt’s basket as part of an and-one opportunity sent the crowd into a frenzied celebration, and Byrd added a 3-pointer on the next possession to put Park Hill South up 14-2 and add to the raucous atmosphere.
Another 3-pointer from Ryan Welty extended the advantage to 19-5.
That forced Park Hill star Landry Shamet into action. The Wichita State-bound point guard led a 15-0 run in the next 3 minutes that included a 3 from Tanner Zeil to close the first quarter scoring and cut the Panthers’ lead to 19-18. On the opening play of the second quarter, Shamet threw down a high-rising two-handed dunk off a designed alley-oop play to put the Trojans ahead for the first time.
Welty (13 points) answered with a 3 to reclaim the lead, and the score remained close the rest of the way.
“Not that quick,” Parra said when asked if he expected Park Hill’s response to be so swift. “But when you’ve got Landry over there and Deionte, they’ve got some scorers, and they can put up points in a hurry.”
Shamet scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the first half and beat the second quarter buzzer with a deep 3 to close the Trojans within 35-33 at the break. His three-point play with 3:22 left in the third quarter gave Park Hill its biggest lead at 43-36, and his third and final 3 to answer Welty’s third and final 3 put Park Hill South down 46-44 to start the final 8 minutes.
The pace slowed in the fourth quarter as the lead changed hands multiple times before Byrd’s go-ahead basket. The Panthers were up 58-53 with 41.7 seconds to play before a three-point play from Zeil on the ensuing possession forced the late intrigue.
Byrd’s only miss at the line set up Park Hill’s possession with a chance to tie.
Shamet didn’t receive the final touch, and Wilson, who scored 10 points but none in the fourth quarter, misfired. The ball landed out of bounds with no time remaining.
Hyatt finished with 11 points for Park Hill South — one of five players with at least eight points. Park Hill had five with at least six, including nine for senior Louis Reinmiller. However, Shamet scored 11 of the Trojans’ 25 in the second half.
Both teams were in action Tuesday, Feb. 17, but results were not available at The Citizen’s deadline. Park Hill hosted Liberty with the winner moving into sole possession of second-place behind Park Hill South in the Red Division standings.
Park Hill South 71, Liberty 40
Welty poured in eight 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 32 points in the Panthers’ blowout win Tuesday, Feb. 10 at Park Hill South High School.
Up 19-15 after the first quarter, Park Hill South slowly extended out its lead, and Liberty managed just three points in the fourth quarter. The Panthers hit 11 3-pointers out of their 27 field goals, and Byrd contributed three of them on the way to 15 points.
Easton Fortuna hit the other two and finished with eight points. Allen Hyatt (16 points) was the only other player to score for Park Hill South.
Park Hill 68, Truman 51
Seven players tallied at least seven points for the Trojans in a balanced win Tuesday, Feb. 10 at Park Hill High School.
Park Hill jumped to a 22-11 lead and then pulled away by outscoring the Patriots 21-9 in the final 8 minutes. The Trojans shot 51 percent from the floor.
Shamet led the way with 16 points, while Reinmiller (13) and Wilson (10) also finished in double-figure scoring. Wilson and Reinmiller collected seven rebounds apiece, while Carter Anchors dished out seven assists.
Reinmiller also grabbed three steals.