BASEHOR, Kan. — A frustrating loss only seemed to improve Park Hill’s resolve — even with coach Aaron Neeser off the sideline.
The Trojans came back to win the third-place game of the Basehor-Linwood Invitational with a dominating offensive performance against Blue Valley (Kan.). They pulled away late for a 70-56 victory on Saturday, Jan. 21 at Basehor-Linwood High School with Brian Rockers serving as head coach.
Neeser picked up two technical fouls in a semifinal loss to Holton (Kan.) and served a one-game suspension.
“We didn’t start off very well,” Rockers said. “We talked about energy and enthusiasm. We didn’t come out with any of that, but (Blue Valley’s lead) never got to 10 or 12 points. It was kind of seven or eight, and we kept it close and we got it down to two I think at halftime. That was huge. To keep it within striking distance was a big thing.”
Down 15-10 after the first quarter, Park Hill scored at least 18 points in each of the next three frames. Blue Valley’s lead was down to 33-31 at halftime, and the Tigers couldn’t keep up the pace.
Park Hill senior forward Morgen Smith continued her strong play and finally put the Trojans in front, and sophomore guard Tee Tee Bryant added another bucket to make it 43-40 with just more than 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
Bryant (12) and Smith (10) both finished in double-figures for scoring, while senior guards Gigi Hopkins (18) and Alex Berger (14) led the way for Park Hill. Berger hit the Trojans’ lone 3, but they also made 23 other shots from the floor and went 21-for-28 on free throws.
“Morgen stayed in there and had a good second half,” Rockers said. “Tee Tee was good and she handled the ball pretty well and she did some good things on defense as well. Gigi was huge. She’s just a competitor and just plays hard. She does a lot of stuff that people don’t see but she’s kind of our glue person.”
The balanced effort came two days after Park Hill lost a double-digit lead and scored only 43 points in a loss to Holton.
The Trojans entered the tournament on a four-game win streak and have won seven of their past nine going into a Thursday, Jan. 26 game against Lee’s Summit. The Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup offers another chance to jump into the league race with four teams at 3-2 or better in the standings.
After winning two straight, Park Hill is 2-2 in the Gold Division, moving up to the conference’s largest tier for this season.
Holton (Kan.) 48, Park Hill 43
A huge disparity in free throw attempts helped doom the Trojans in their semifinal Thursday, Jan. 19 in Basehor, Kan.
Holton shot 28 free throws and made 16 to help spring a comeback in the second half. Park Hill attempted just 10 shots at the line but only made three, losing a 26-14 halftime advantage.
Park Hill’s balanced offense featured only five scorers with Hopkins leading the way with 10. Bryant, Smith and Taiya Shelby had eight apiece, while Berger was limited to just seven. The Trojans were up 30-29 after the third quarter but gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter, most of Holton’s production coming at the line.
Park Hill 68, Hayden (Kan.) 43
The Trojans dominated their first round matchup Monday, Jan. 16 in Basehor, Kan.
Park Hill’s suddenly surging offense put up 58 points in the first three quarters, hit 27 total field goals and still nearly made it to 70 points despite making just 12 of 24 free throw attempts. Smith scored 27 points with 12 field goals, while Bryant (11 points) and Berger (10 points) also finished in double-figure scoring.
Hayden trailed 36-27 at halftime and gave up 22 points in the third quarter — 12 for Smith.