Desi steals the show: Point guard helps Panthers rally for win

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill South’s Desi Williams knew what needed to be done.

Williams, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, helped the Panthers wipe out a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit on their way to a 72-63 overtime victory over Oak Park in the opening round of the 69th annual North Kansas City Invitational on Monday, Jan. 14.

Williams scored 18 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

“Before I checked in with three minutes to play, I said ‘believe it, we’re going to win the game,’” he recalled telling his teammates. “I came out and guarded (Oak Park’s) Ahmad (Lewis) and made sure he didn’t get anything else and our team fell through. Everyone did their job.”

Williams hit a 3-pointer shortly after entering the contest, cutting Oak Park’s lead to 52-45 with 3:30 remaining. From there, Williams contributed nine points during a game-saving 14-7 run to send it to an extra period.

CODY THORN/Citizen photo  Park Hill South’s Desi Williams shoots a jumper during a first-round game against Oak Park in the North Kansas City Tournament on Monday, Jan. 14 at North Kansas City Fieldhouse in North Kansas City, Mo.

CODY THORN/Citizen photo

Park Hill South’s Desi Williams shoots a jumper during a first-round game against Oak Park in the North Kansas City Tournament on Monday, Jan. 14 at North Kansas City Fieldhouse in North Kansas City, Mo.

In overtime, Williams, who became the go-to threat when senior Lamel Robinson fouled out with 46.8 left in the fourth quarter, scored six of the Panthers’ 13 points for the victory. Additionally, Williams was 9-for-9 from the free-throw line in the final two frames.

“He was great, a senior leader that makes his free throws at the end and he took the responsibility to guard Lewis, too,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “Not only was he doing it on the offensive end but he did it on defensive end. He was great.”

The Northmen (5-8) led for most of the contest, as they had a 16-15 advantage after the first quarter, a 31-26 halftime lead and a 45-35 advantage after three frames.

The Panthers (9-3) outscored Oak Park 24-14 and 14-4 in the fourth quarter and overtime period, respectively.

“We showed a lot of heart,” Parra said. “We were down double digits, we were down most of the game and at half, and nothing was really working for us on offense. So for us to stay with it and just do one possession at a time and see where it ends up, that was good for us.”

Robinson led the Panthers in scoring with 24 points, while junior forward Dylan Brougham added nine. Lewis led Oak Park with a 26-point effort.

The Panthers face St. Pius X at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals of the North Kansas City tournament. The championship and third-place games will both take place on Friday.

Park Hill South’s conference game against Truman was postponed due to inclement weather on Friday, Jan. 11. The contest was rescheduled for Feb. 21.

Lafayette 51, Platte County 49

KEARNEY, Mo. — Platte County’s boys basketball team’s early season slide continued during the 52nd annual Bulldog Classic at Kearney High School.

The Pirates’ losing streak grew to nine straight with a loss to St. Joseph Lafayette on Thursday, Jan. 10 in a consolation contest of the Kearney Tournament.

Platte County (2-9) certainly had its chances near the end, but the Irish (10-6) came up with a pair of crucial defensive stops near the end. The final 2:30 of play, in fact, did not see a single point scored.

The Pirates turned it over with 26.6 seconds remaining and were called for a 5-second violation on an out-of-bounds play with 6.9 seconds remaining. They also couldn’t come up with a defensive rebound off an Irish free throw attempt with only seconds left. Lafayette’s rebound sealed the victory.

“We had to get that rebound,” Pirates coach Rick Hodge said. “That was addressed after the game. It’s very frustrating, and it’s been one of our biggest problems all season is rebounding. We had our play drawn up that we were ready to run, but the last thing we tell them in the huddle is to secure the rebound first. But then (Lafayette gets the) offensive rebound and ballgame over.”

“We had the play set up,” Hodge said of the 30-second call. “We had the cross screen coming through the elevator doors, and (Lafayette) switched that, then we had the slip action, but by then it was too late and it was a five (-second) call.”

When the Pirates were successful, they did it with the deep ball. 

Senior guard Brady Wright, who led all scorers with 16 points, made four 3-pointers. Senior guard Dawson Wood added 12 points, while also making four treys.

“We shoot the ball quite a bit, and we were hitting shots early and that’s how we stuck with them,” Hodge said. “But when you drive for awhile, that’s where we struggle at times.”

North Kansas City 46, Platte County 38

The Pirates ran into the defending Bulldog Classic champions in the opening round of the tourney on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Platte County led North Kansas City 36-33 after the third quarter, but the Hornets held the Pirates to just a single field goal in the final frame to come up victorious.

Platte County led 10-9 after the first quarter before North Kansas City scored 18 in the second period to take a 27-20 lead into the break. The Pirates regrouped in the third by scoring 16 and holding the Hornets to only six points, but they couldn’t keep it up in the final frame.

Senior guard Justin Barkley led the Platte County with 11 points and three made 3-pointers. Wright chipped in 10 points and two 3s.