ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Park Hill guard Dru Smith stepped into the game a little sooner than expected, but the sophomore’s insertion off the bench helped turn around an early deficit on Friday, Feb. 20 at Central High School.
Senior starter Deionte Wilson picked up his second foul 90 seconds into the first quarter — both offensive fouls — to force Smith into action. The Trojans plugged away for the rest of half and exploded to life after the break to take a 64-42 victory and remain second in the Suburban League Red Division.
“I just came in and had to do my job — to bring energy to the team,” said Smith, who scored five points in the first quarter. “We just had to keep it going and play our game. Once we play our game, we can beat anyone. We just moved the ball and hit open shots and then the offensive end comes easy.”
Park Hill trailed 8-2 4 minutes into the first quarter after Carter Anchors picked up the team’s third offensive foul. Smith picked up the slack, scoring a transition layup and a corner-3-pointer on back-to-back possessions, part of a 9-0 run that gave the Trojans their first lead.
Central, which took Park Hill to overtime in their first meeting this season, tied the game at 12 at the end of the first quarter and scored the first four points of the second quarter to take a 16-12 lead with 6:03 left in the half.
Louis Reinmiller — a Central Missouri commit — hit his first 3 of the game at the 5:03 mark to put the Trojans up 18-17, a lead they did not relinquish.
Park Hill, winners in five of six, hosted Ruskin on Tuesday, Feb. 24, but the result was not available at deadline. The Trojans close the season at Truman on Friday, Feb. 27 with Class 5 District 16 play set to start next week.
Park Hill owns the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye into the semifinals, making experiences like the early comeback vs. Central important.
“We struggled (with foul trouble) in the first half,” Reinmiller said. “Really, it ends up helping us out. We get to play more players and get everyone experience. Especially coming into districts, making sure everyone is ready to play when they are called on.”
Park Hill might have to change its rotation after a key injury suffered later in the first quarter.
Anchors went down with an injury to his right arm — a suspected broken elbow that will likely see him miss the remainder of the season — at the 1:41 mark of the second quarter. Park Hill coach David Garrison elected to dribble out the remaining time to take the last shot. Reinmiller missed a 3 in the waning seconds with Park Hill clinging to a 21-17 lead at the break.
“That’s why everybody plays,” Garrison said. “You never know when your number is going to be called. We had some kids step up and do a really good job.”
Park Hill senior Landry Shamet — limited to just two points in the first half with his own foul trouble — helped start Park Hill’s second-half barrage. The Wichita State signee tallied eight of his 12 points in the third quarter. Wilson chipped in six of his 13, and Reinmiller hit his second of two 3s on his way to a team-high 14.
“We just made sure to keep everything simple,” Reinmiller said. “They were running a zone and we were bigger than they were. We just needed to not make spectacular plays and make the easy plays and get easy buckets.”
Smith wound up with nine — one of nine Trojans to get into the score column. Aspen Henry, a senior reserve player for Park Hill, received the loudest cheers after hitting a wing-3 in the closing minute, part of his five fourth-quarter points after the starters were subbed out.
Park Hill 59, Liberty 50
The Trojans maintained their hold on second place in the Red Division with this win on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Shamet led Park Hill with 16 points, while Reinmiller added 11, including the Trojans’ only 3. They scored 20 points in the second quarter to take control coming off of a loss four days earlier to rival Park Hill South.
Park Hill South 79, Ruskin 43
Six players tallied at least nine points, including a season-high 14 for reserve Teeng Okoi off the bench.
Park Hill South (19-3) — the top seed in next week’s Class 5 District 16 tournament — needed at least one win this week to wrap up an undefeated Red Division championship. The Panthers hosted Truman on Tuesday, Feb. 24, but the result was not available at deadline. They close the regular season at Liberty on Friday, Feb. 27.
With Akoi leading the way at Ruskin, Ryan Welty and Allen Hyatt followed close behind with 13 points apiece, and senior guard Easton Fortuna provided 11 more off the bench. James Byrd added 10 to round out the double-digit scorers.
Park Hill South survived a scare at St. Joseph Central three days earlier, winning 52-50 in overtime. The Panthers had won eight straight entering the matchup with Truman.