LIBERTY, Mo. — Ronnie Bell helped Park Hill get to the championship of the C.W. Stessman Invitational.
But, his teammates made sure the Trojans brought home the trophy as he was at the University of Michigan for an official visit.
Park Hill played without Bell during Friday night’s championship at the Liberty Fieldhouse, but Willie Majok and Cecil Lee stepped up to lead the Trojans to a 58-39 victory over Class 5 No. 2-ranked Lee’s Summit West in the title game.
That capped a 3-0 run in the tournament that saw Bell hit two game-winning 3-pointers to vault Park Hill past St. Joseph Lafayette and then Liberty.
Bell scored 79 points in two games and was named to the All-Tournament team, while teammate Haden Wallace was given the Hustle Award.
Two quarters made the difference in the ultimate outcome of Friday’s game. Tied at 8 after the first quarter, the Trojans outscored the Titans in the second quarter and led 25-19 at the break.
Down 17-15, Dashean Powell hit a 3-pointer to give the Trojans the lead for the final time, the start of a 9-0 run.
Park Hill scored the first two baskets in the third from Majok and Nic Zeil, to boost the lead to 29-19. A 10-0 run capped the frame for the Trojans. A third-quarter scoring advantage of 13 points gave the Trojans a 43-24 lead going into the fourth, where both team scored 15 points.
Majok finished with 19 points, while Ryan Graves tallied 11.
Creighton-bound Christian Bishop scored only eight points for the Titans, while 6-foot-8 Oklahoma State recruit Yor Anei didn’t play.
Park Hill 58, Liberty 57
Ronnie Bell did something that made the most veteran coaches ponder if it had been done.
Park Hill assistant coach Fred Turner has been around the game 49 years and Coach Chad Jones has been at it for 16 years and neither of them had seen the same player hit a game-winning 3-pointer in consecutive games.
“I’ve never seen a kid hit two game-winners in a row from 23 feet out, ever, you just don’t do that,” Jones said. “It was a great comeback victory. Liberty is very, very good. To come back from nine down with about 2 minutes to go and steal it was a testament how hard they competed.”
That was the feat that Bell accomplished on Thursday, Jan. 18, when he led his team back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter and the Trojans even overcame a 5-point deficit with less than a minute to go thanks to Bell.
The fourth quarter started with the Trojans down by six and the deficit grew to nine on a 3-pointer by Brock Marston and then 12 when Jalen Lewis drained a 3-pointer.
Bell scored three baskets in a row and then Cecil Lee hit a 3 from the top of the key to make it 52-45. Bell drained a trey with 1:53 to go, making it 54-49 and on the next possession went to the line on a one-and-one chance and hit both.
Liberty went to the line with 49 seconds left and Lewis hit both free throws, making it 56-51.
The next 35 seconds allowed Park Hill to surge ahead. Bell was fouled and made both free throws and then got a steal and score with 15 seconds left.
Down 56-55, the Trojans were forced to foul and Tavis Turner went to the line. He made the first, making it a two-point game, but he missed his second. Park Hill’s Haden Wallace got the rebound with 6.8 left and passed it to Bell.
He got in front of his team’s bench and rose up and shot a 3-pointer and it went in at the buzzer, capping an epic comeback and giving him 37 points in the contest — 19 in the fourth quarter.
“The whole time we were down, I felt we were one, we just needed two stops in a row and we would be back in the game, that is what we did,” Bell said. “Tavy missed and I got the ball from Haden. Haden got a rebound. I looked up I saw it was 3 point something left so I knew I wasn’t going to the basket, there was two guys in front of me. I went left and Robert Rawie was there. Then, I came back and No. 15 (Marston) was there and I had to go up.”
That final bucket was the first time the Trojans held the lead since late in the second quarter, up 26-25.
Lewis, an AAU teammate of Bell, finished with 21 for Liberty.
Park Hill 72, Lafayette 71, 3 OT
Ronnie Bell hit a pull-up 3-pointer at the end of the third overtime to pick up a win against the Fighting Irish on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in the opening round of the tournament.
The final basket was his fifth 3-pointer and gave him 42 points.
Park Hill led 49-39 going into the fourth but Lafayette came to take a 53-51 near the end of the fourth. Bell scored to tie the game at 53 at the end of regulation. Each team scored four points in the first overtime and then seven in the second —both times Lafayette’s Diego Bernard scored to tie the game.
Ryan Graves hit three 3-pointers and finished with 10 points to join Bell in double scoring for the Trojans.
Park Hill entered that game coming off 66-61 win against Blue Springs South on Friday, Jan. 12, in Blue Springs, Mo.
The two teams combined for 52 points in the fourth, but the Trojans were able to pull out the win and sweep both Blue Springs school that week.
Park Hill had a balanced scoring attack led by Bell’s 23, followed by 12 each from Cecil Lee and Haden Wallace and 11 from Willie Majok.