KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A troubling start to the second half prompted an early timeout from first-year Park Hill coach Chad Jones in the Trojans’ second meeting with St. Joseph Central in Suburban Conference Red Division Play.
After a lackluster response out of the break, Jones called a second timeout to again attempt to refocus his players. Park Hill never looked back and coasted to a 65-44 win, and important victory in terms of postseason position.
Park Hill ended up with the top seed in Class 5 District 16 after a sweep in conference play of the Indians, who will play No. 3 Park Hill South in the semifinals next week. The Trojans will await the winner between Staley and Oak Park for a 7 p.m. semifinal on Tuesday, March 1.
“Central is a good team,” Jones said. “They came out with a little fight in themselves in the second half. Our guys came out a bit lackadaisical so we had to burn those two timeouts to get their attention. Then our guys refocused and got after it”
Park Hill led 31-21 at halftime, but a 9-4 run cut the deficit in half.
Following the timeouts, Park Hill answered with seven unanswered, and the lead didn’t go back under double digits the rest of the way. The Trojans’ held Matt Austin and Jayden Bristol — the Indians’ top two scorers — to just 18 points.
Ten different players cracked the scoring column with senior forward Kentrez Bell leading the way with a game-high 11. He scored a career high 23 points in the first Red Division game in St. Joseph.
Park Hill won both matchups with Central played in February after a double-digit loss to the Indians in the third place game of the Liberty North Invitational in December.
“Early in the season we played in the Liberty North Tournament and they kind of blew us out,” Bell said. “I think we took it as a disrespect so we started grinding and said, ‘These guys aren’t going to beat us again.’”
Park Hill senior forward Tanner Zeil scored nine, and guards senior Brandon Townsell, junior Dru Smith and sophomore Willie Majok each scored eight apeice. A sophomore transfer from Winnetonka, Majok missed the first meeting between the schools with a broken hand, and his insertion into the rotation has helped change the tide.
“I was kind of warming up in the first half,” said Majok, who scored all eight of his points after halftime. “Second half I got into it started passing and dishing and playing my game.”
The win moved Park Hill back to 4-4 in the Red Division play after starting out league play with a 3-1 record.
The Trojans were scheduled for a trip to Ruskin on Tuesday, Feb. 23, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. They will host Truman on Friday, Feb. 26 in the regular season finale.
Park Hill South 53, Ruskin 51
The Panthers held off a late charge despite stagnant offense in the second half Friday, Feb. 19 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
Ryan Welty led all scorers with 19, while Lamel Robinson added 12. Park Hill South took a 34-24 lead into halftime but scored just 19 the rest of the way. The Panthers put up 20 in the second quarter to establish their double-digit advantage.
Park Hill South 60, St. Joseph Central 55
Welty scored 22, and Jacob Kline and Desi Williams also finished in double figures to help the Panthers hold on for a Red Division win Tuesday, Feb. 16 in St. Joseph, Mo.
Park Hill South led by seven with 1:59 to play and held on from there despite 38 combined points from Bristol and Mat Austin. Bristol hit four of the Indians’ seven 3-pointers to keep them close.
The two teams will rematch next week with Central the No. 2 seed and Park Hill South the No. 3 in the Class 5 District 16 bracket, released over the weekend. They play at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1 at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo.
The winner advances to the district title game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, March 4.
Liberty 68, Park Hill 60
The Trojans closed within five in the final minute Tuesday, Feb. 16 in Liberty, Mo. but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Liberty went ahead 60-49 with 1:30 to play, but a quick 6-0 run from Park Hill forced the Blue Jays to finish the win on free throws. They went 26-for-30 overall.
Majok scored a team-high 14 points for Park Hill, while Ronnie Bell added 13 with two 3-pointers. Tanner Morrison also hit two 3-pointers and matched Brandon Townsell with 10 points.
Park Hill led 20-11 after the first quarter but was outscored 38-23 during the next 16 minutes.
Kearney 60, Platte County 44
The Pirates lost a third straight in Suburban Conference Blue Division play Friday, Feb. 19 in Platte City, entering a Tuesday, Feb. 23 matchup with Raytown South. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Platte County lost to both Belton and Kearney to continue a string of losses since picking up the lone conference win of the season vs. Winnetonka.
In the Class 4 District 16 bracket, Platte County drew the No. 5 seed, and the Pirates will play in the first round against Kearney — a rematch of last year’s championship game. The Bulldogs swept Platte County this season.
The first-round game is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 29 in Smithville, Mo.
In the most recent game with Kearney, Platte County fell behind early and didn’t recover. Tanner Newberry scored nine of his team-high 11 points on 3-pointers, and Grant Carver added nine.