LIBERTY, Mo. — Park Hill entered the season with some minor buzz as a possible title contender. The Trojans won’t be hiding anymore.
In a dominant effort, Park Hill took down the hosts 62-49 in the championship game of the Liberty North Invitational on Friday, Dec. 9 at Liberty North High School. The Trojans remained unbeaten and ran their winning streak to five on the young season ahead of a Tuesday, Dec. 13 game at Oak Park.
The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Park Hill went into the title game off of a close win against former Suburban Conference Red Division rival St. Joseph Central in the semifinals. The Trojans started fast against Liberty North and didn’t look back.
Up 23-15 after the first quarter, Park Hill survived a slow second quarter and pulled away for good out of halftime, going on a 10-0 run to close the third quarter to open up a 46-29 advantage. Liberty North closed back within eight with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left but came no closer.
Park Hill came into the season with few experienced players outside of senior guard Dru Smith (a three-year starter) and 2015-16 contributors Chester Graves, Ronnie Bell and Willy Majok. Graves led the way against Liberty North with 16 points and nine rebounds, just missing a double-double, while Smith added 11 points and nine boards.
However, sophomore starter Roman Wilson scored a career-high 15 points, hitting all three of his 3-point tries.
“That’s the most points I’ve ever had in a varsity game,” Wilson said. “It was pretty cool because this was only my third varsity start, and I think I did pretty good.”
Of the eight players to see the floor, Graves, Smith and Stewart were the lone seniors, while Majok, Bell and Cecil Lee were juniors. Wilson and Nic Zeil make up part of intriguing sophomore class second-year coach Chad Jones hopes to see develop as the season goes on.
Bell scored 11 against Liberty North to give Park Hill four players in double figures.
Liberty North senior Dominic Fragola scored a game-high 20 points, including four 3s to keep the Eagles from suffering a blowout. Park Hill went 15 of 24 on free throws but hit down the stretch to salt away the final minutes.
Park Hill 59, St. Joseph Central 53
The Trojans hot start turned out to be just enough to advance them to the championship game.
In a semifinal Thursday, Dec. 8 in Liberty, Mo., Park Hill scored 22 points in the first quarter and then held off a late rally. Chester Graves scored a season-high 20 points in the win for the Trojans, while Dru Smith added 15 with two of their four 3-pointers.
Park Hill led 34-18 at halftime, slumped through the third quarter and fended off the Indians late. Matt Austin and Jaiden Bristol — the Indians’ two high-scoring seniors — combined for 39 points.
Park Hill 60, St. Pius X 29
The Trojans opened the tournament with a dominant win Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Liberty, Mo. Ten different players scored but only Ronnie Bell finished in double figures (18 points).
Park Hill made 25 shots from the field, including three 3s for Bell. The Trojans only shot six free throws and made just one.