Dru Smith paused ever so slightly before celebrating.
Following a chaotic final minute, Park Hill’s senior guard wanted to make sure his last-second basket counted Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo. Smith’s scoop at the buzzer provided a thrilling 54-53 double-comeback win and kept the Trojans undefeated.
Park Hill trailed 28-18 at halftime and never could pull away in the second half.
“Kids realized Oak Park is for real, and we have to come out and play,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said of the mood at halftime.
Willy Majok, a junior guard, put up 11 of his team-high 14 points in the third quarter to lead the first comeback for Park Hill, which entered the game off of a sweep through the Liberty North Invitational. The Trojans led much of the fourth quarter, but Oak Park cut its deficit to two points on a 3 with about 3 minutes to go then tied it at 50-50 on two free throws with about two minutes to go.
After a free throw put Park Hill up one, the Trojans took the ball back, and Oak Park needed four fouls to put them on the line. Eventually, Ronnie Bell stepped up and hit the front end but missed the second.
Oak Park came down, and Ronney Goods hit a corner 3 with what appeared to be about 4 seconds to go to put the Northmen back up 53-52.
Jones tried to signal for a timeout, but Park Hill had inbounded the ball and advanced to about one-quarter court before referees signaled the stoppage with 0.8 seconds to go. While trying to sort out the confusion, the Oak Park clock operator ran the remainder of the time off, and the student section rushed the floor, thinking the Northmen had scored the upset.
Instead, the officials put 2.5 seconds on the clock and gave Park Hill the ball at the top of the key in the backcourt.
Roman Wilson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, inbounded to a running Smith, who went around a screen from 6-foot-7 senior Chester Graves. Smith navigated into a lane and hit the shot as the buzzer sounded.
The official on the baseline whistled a foul but called Oak Park for a blocking foul. Since the basket won the game, the free throw was not attempted.
Graves finished with 12 points, while Smith had 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals for Park Hill. Bell had nine points and six rebounds.
Park Hill 66, Lee’s Summit 45
The Trojans improved to 6-0 with a dominant win against a Class 5 semifinalist from a year ago.
Graves scored a game-high 18 points for Park Hill on Thursday, Dec. 15 in Lee’s Summit, Mo. to lead the rout. The Trojans outscored Lee’s Summit in each of the four quarters, pulling away in the final 8 minutes to complete the double-digit victory.
Park Hill hit 28 shots from the floor and only three 3-pointers. Smith had 16 points, while Wilson and Majok put up 10 apiece.
Park Hill South 76, Lee’s Summit North 72
The Panthers survived a barrage of 3s to win a nonconference game Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Riverside, Mo.
Lee’s Summit North led at halftime and ended up with nine 3s. Park Hill South battled back behind a season-high 29 points for Lamel Robinson, who hit all four of the Panthers’ 3s. Saadique Perkins (15 points) and Desi Williams (10 points) also finished in double figures.
Park Hill South went into halftime down 38-36, and both teams scored 21 in the third quarter.