Park Hill boys break out of funk in big week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Minus one of its biggest stars, Park Hill emphatically proved a brief two-game losing skid was merely an aberration.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill senior guard Dru Smith (12) goes up for a layup against Lee’s Summit on Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo
Park Hill senior guard Dru Smith (12) goes up for a layup against Lee’s Summit on Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

The Trojans capped a three-win week with a 70-60 victory over Lee’s Summit on Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School. Offensive struggles contributed to back-to-back losses against Basehor-Linwood (Kan.) and Ottawa the previous weekend in the Basehor-Linwood Invitational, but senior guard Dru Smith reemerged in Suburban Conference Gold Division wins at Raymore-Peculiar, vs. Blue Springs South and vs. Lee’s Summit — all by double digits.

Park Hill’s balance in the finale of those three games included a team-high 27 for Smith, 18 for junior guard Ronnie Bell, 11 for junior point guard Willy Majok and 10 for sophomore forward Roman Wilson. The starters combined for all 70 points with senior forward Chester Graves out of the lineup while on an official football recruiting visit to Ole Miss.

“We wanted to get back on the floor because we don’t really like losing,” Smith said. “We just wanted to get back on the floor and win games. We were very excited to have three games this week. We really don’t care who scores the ball. If somebody has the hot hand, we go to him.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill junior guard Ronnie Bell (55) leans in for a layup  during a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo
Park Hill junior guard Ronnie Bell (55) leans in for a layup  during a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

“We don’t really care. We have a balanced team.”

Park Hill led from the outset behind a quick start for Majok, pulled away to a double-digit lead on Bell’s production in the second quarter and stayed ahead thanks to Smith’s big second half.

All the while, Wilson — a 6-foot-10 big man — provided a steady presence with 10 rebounds and six blocks.

Lee’s Summit trailed by as much as 20 late in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer from Somaj Brewer — his third of the frame — made it 57-40 going into the fourth quarter.

Delshaun Pressley scored 10 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, and the Trojans saw their lead trimmed to 68-60 with 1 minute, 12 seconds to go. Bell and forward Cecil Lee both had timely dunks during the fourth quarter to quell momentum, and a costly technical foul early in the frame led to a three-point possession for Park Hill on two free throws for Bell and 1-of-2 at the line for Majok on the ensuing possession.

“We did have a couple of chances to put them away,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said. “Brewer’s 3 at the end of the quarter gave them a little bit of life, and then Pressley was aggressive all night. He kept going to the rack.”

Park Hill forced a frenetic start and brought out energy from the crowd with a pair of early buckets.

Majok opened the scoring with an acrobatic layup to earn a three-point play, and Wilson converted a steal into a solo drive for a one-handed dunk. The Trojans scored the first seven points to force an early timeout and then closed the quarter on an 8-1 run to take a 15-7 lead.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill junior guard Willy Majok, right, draws contact from Lee’s Summit guard Will Eames during a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo
Park Hill junior guard Willy Majok, right, draws contact from Lee’s Summit guard Will Eames during a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Friday, Jan. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

Majok, Smith and Bell all had 3-pointers in the second quarter with Bell’s from the right wing putting Park Hill up 30-17 with 2:32 left before halftime. He scored the final eight of the half for the Trojans, who led 35-21 at the break.

Smith scored five straight early in the third quarter, including a 3 from the right corner, to push Park Hill’s lead to 42-23. He ended up with 20 points in the second half — 14 in the third quarter alone. 

In the two losses the previous week, Smith finished with six points in each game.

“Our team has been balanced all year,” Jones said. “We need everybody to chip in and get it taken care of, and Dru’s one of our keys. He’s the guy that kind of makes us go, so we missed him last week. But it’s a good way to bounce back getting three conference wins in a row.”

Ranked No. 8 in the most recent Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 poll, Park Hill improved to 15-3 overall and 5-1 in league play entering a key Gold Division matchup with Lee’s Summit West scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 31 in Lee’s Summit, Mo. with the winner taking sole possession of first place in the conference standings.

The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.

Park Hill 76, Blue Springs South 63

Smith hit buzzer-beaters at the end of the first and second quarters on his way to game-high 20 points Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

Park Hill went up 21-11 on Smith’s shot at the end of the first quarter and 39-22 on his shot just before halftime. The Trojans were up 17-6 early in the first quarter and led by double digits for most of the Gold Division matchup.

Bell (15), Majok (13), Wilson (13) and Graves (11) gave Park Hill five starters in double figures who accounted for all but four of the Trojans’ points.

Park Hill 50, Raymore-Peculiar 34

The Trojans snapped a brief two-game skid with a dominant performance Tuesday, Jan. 24 in Raymore, Mo.

Wilson scored 16 points to lead Park Hill, which held the Panthers to just four points in the first quarter and one in the fourth. Raymore-Peculiar hit five 3-pointers total and partially rallied back from a 19-point deficit.

Park Hill South 67, Truman 53

The usual players helped the Panthers return to the win column in Suburban Conference Red Division play Friday, Jan. 27 in Independence, Mo.

Coming off a loss to Liberty, Park Hill South pulled away with a big third quarter. Lamel Robinson (16), Saadique Perkins (12) and Desi Williams (10) all scored in double figures, while Jake Kline and CJ Lee added eight apiece. Connor Lee scored six.

Park Hill South sits at 2-2 in Red Division play but fourth in the standings behind Liberty, Raytown and St. Joseph Central. The Panthers are scheduled to return to league play Friday, Feb. 3 at Raytown, which was 2-0 in Red Division entering Tuesday night’s games.

Overall, Park Hill South hold a 14-5 record and were ranked No. 9 in the most recent MBCA Class 5 poll, one spot behind rival Park Hill — which won the regular season meeting between the two earlier this season.

Liberty 50, Park Hill South 46

The Panthers returned to Red Division play with a loss Tuesday, Jan. 24 in Riverside, Mo.

In a slow first quarter, Park Hill South led 5-4 early before back-to-back buckets late put the Blue Jays up 9-5. They turned that momentum into a 14-3 run and a 17-8 lead.

Robinson and Kline hit late 3s to keep Liberty’s advantage at 24-16 going into halftime, and Park Hill South trimmed the deficit to 33-30 after three quarters. Robinson’s 3 with 5:28 to go tied the score at 35, but the Panthers wouldn’t lead again.