ANTHONY CRANE | Special to the Citizen
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a long-anticipated rematch, Park Hill couldn’t seize control of its chance to jump to the top of the Suburban Conference Gold Division standings.
Lee’s Summit West pulled the season sweep with a 66-54 victory Friday, Feb. 17 at Park Hill High School. Ranked No. 2 in Class 5 according to the most recent Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll, the Titans grabbed the lead late in the first quarter and held it the rest of the way.
Park Hill, Lee’s Summit West and Blue Springs entered the night in a three-way tie for first, and with just one Gold Division game left on the schedule, the Trojans now need help to earn a split. Lee’s Summit West won the first meeting between the two teams 52-50 on the last day of January.
“We felt pretty good going into the game tonight,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said. “The guys were focused and after losing to them at their place by two, this one stings a little bit.”
Lee’s Summit West’s biggest lead of the first half was 26-17. The Titans captured the energy in front of a packed gym, winning the rebound battle with Park Hill’s front line of 6-foot-10 sophomore Roman Wilson (12 points) and 6-foot-6 senior Chester Graves (11 points).
The Trojans found themselves in one-and-done offensive trips, while allowing second-chance opportunities to Lee’s Summit West, 20-2 entering a Tuesday, Feb. 21 regular season finale vs. Lee’s Summit (0-10 in Gold Division play).
“Generally, we don’t have that problem,” Jones said. “We’re a big team, but tonight tip your hat to Lee’s Summit West.”
Lee’s Summit West went into halftime with a 34-26 lead, but Park Hill (18-5, 8-3) opened the second half with a run. An 8-2 segment pulled the Trojans within two, and Park Hill senior guard Dru Smith scored five of his 17 points during the stretch.
“We knew that we needed to come out with more energy because we were down,” Smith said.
Lee’s Summit West called a timeout and then responded with a free throw line jumper from Mario Goodrich to push the advantage back to two possessions. A Park Hill turnover led to an easy bucket for Titans guard CJ May, and the run hit 9-0 to put the Trojans down 11.
Eventually, Lee’s Summit West pulled ahead by 13, but Park Hill closed the third quarter on an 11-2 run to provide some intrigue entering the fourth quarter. Park Hill’s Cecil Lee capped the spurt with a dunk just before time expired in the third quarter.
“They showed some character and some fight,” Jones said. “When you’re down at your own place, you gotta come out with some tenacity and toughness.”
But the fourth quarter belonged to Lee’s Summit West, which stretched the lead back to double digits with 4 minutes to go.
Park Hill didn’t recover and dropped to one game back of Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit West in the Gold Division standings. The Trojans were scheduled to close the regular season at home against Raymore-Peculiar — 1-10 in Gold Division play — Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
In the Class 5 District 16 tournament, Park Hill drew the top seed out of five teams. The Trojans will open play Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Park Hill High School against the winner of a first round game between Staley and Winnetonka.
Having spent time in the MBCA poll this season, Park Hill wants to avoid last year’s fate when the Trojans were the No. 1 seed and lost their first game to Staley. Park Hill last reached the playoffs in 2014.
“We’ll be focused for districts,” Jones said. “We’re hosting districts and we have some good teams in our district, but I like our chances.”
Park Hill 59, Blue Springs South 50
The Trojans pulled away in the third quarter Tuesday, Feb. 14 in Blue Springs, Mo. to help set up the showdown with Lee’s Summit West.
Blue Springs South led 25-20 at halftime but couldn’t keep pace when the scoring picked up. Smith led the way with 16 points and two of Park Hill’s four 3-pointers, while point guard Willie Majok added 15.
Park Hill scored 25 points in the third quarter and 39 total in the second half after the slow start.