NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Once the lead came back, Park Hill South thankfully began to pull away. No telling how much more Lamel Robinson had left in his legs.
The Panthers sophomore guard put up a career-high 40 points, willing his teammates to a 76-71 victory in double overtime Friday, Jan. 20 in the championship game of the North Kansas City Invitational. He hit a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer to tie the score with Rock Bridge, and Park Hill South staged an improbable comeback in the second overtime.
Jake Kline, a senior guard, hit his second big 3-pointer of the game to open the second overtime, and Park Hill South didn’t look back with Robinson scoring 24 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter and two extra sessions.
“Really, I was just pushing the tempo and staying with it,” Robinson said. “We got down late and just trusted in each other, and we just played together. We fought back as a team.
“I just kept playing. My legs were killing me.”
More than once, Rock Bridge appeared to seize control of the matchup behind a quartet of double-digit scorers and a consistently shifting defense.
The Bruins went into the fourth quarter up 46-36 and led by as many as 15 before Robinson and sophomore point guard Desi Williams started engineering a comeback with slicing moves to the basket. Robinson scored six straight before Kline hit a 3 to suddenly close the Panthers within 51-45 with 5 minutes to go.
Williams, who scored 18, converted a three-point play with 32.7 seconds to go to make it 55-53, and Rock Bridge’s struggles at the line left an opening for a once dormant Park Hill South offense.
“(Early), I think if we had played defense and could get in transition it would’ve helped,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “But it seemed like they were scoring and then setting up their defense, which really hurt us in the first half. As the game went on, we got a little more comfortable attacking the zone.”
After a miss on the front end of a one-and-one, Williams misfired on a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, and Park Hill South fouled again with 5.2 seconds left.
Rock Bridge’s Jamonta Black went to the line and hit the first but missed the second to leave the Bruins with a tenuous 56-53 advantage. Williams brought the ball up with Rock Bridge appearing ready to foul, but instead, he threw a pass to Robinson deep on the left wing.
Robinson rose up over two defenders and buried the shot, much to the delight of his teammates and the Rage Cage student section behind the visitor’s bench.
“I thought they were (going to foul),” Robinson said. “I thought that was going to be their game plan, but I wasn’t for sure. We were all just ready to shoot, whoever it came to.”
Rock Bridge rebounded and scored the first four of overtime.
Park Hill South’s situation became more dire when a turnover led to a runout layup for Isaih Mosley plus a foul on Robinson. Mosley converted the three-point play, and after Robinson missed the front half of a one-and-one situation, the Bruins increased their lead to 65-58 with 1:33 to go.
Rock Bridge again struggled at the line, and two Robinson free throws helped set up Park Hill South’s defense.
The Panthers forced back-to-back turnovers resulting in layups for Williams and junior Saadique Perkins (eight points) to it at 67-67. The Bruins tried to hold for the last possession with 22.6 seconds left, taking a timeout with 11.7 seconds left.
Ben Cooper, a sophomore guard in the game after Eysan Wiley fouled out with 18 points, dribbled the ball off his foot with 1.6 seconds left. Park Hill South’s play out of the timeout didn’t result in a shot, but the Panthers earned 4 more minutes to try and steal the win.
“We knew we were just one stop away, one stop away the whole time,” Kline said.
Kline opened the next possession with a 3 in the right corner, and Williams scored the next four.
Rock Bridge ran out of steam from there. Kline only hit two field goals — both important 3-pointers, adding to the legacy he started as a sophomore when he hit key shots for Park Hill South in a Class 5 state semifinal upset of Chaminade.
The 3 to start the second overtime gave the Panthers their first lead on Rock Bridge since the end of the first quarter.
“It just felt like the right time,” said Kline, the only starter back who helped Park Hill South finish second at state in Class 5 in 2015. “Mel passed me the ball in the corner and said, ‘Shoot that,’ and I shot it — nothing but net. I felt like once we got that lead that we would hold it and we were going to finish it out.”
Williams and Robinson combined for four 3-pointers in the first quarter, the last from Robinson putting Park Hill South up 18-17 at the buzzer.
The shooting went cold from there, and Rock Bridge’s matchup zone defense and repeated second chances on offensive rebounds caused fits for the Panthers. Robinson, who scored 15 in the first half, hit a late 3 in the second quarter, but Black’s backdoor layup off an out of bounds play at the buzzer put the Bruins up 32-27.
The drama didn’t resume until the fourth quarter when Park Hill South started taking the ball to the basket instead of settling for open jumpers. The Panthers continue to heavily rely on its five starters, although junior MJ Walker and sophomores CJ Lee and Dawson Owen played big minutes after undersized forward Conner Lee fouled out late in regulation.
“They’ve got a mental toughness,” Parra said. “I love this group. I think they’re tough as nails. I don’t think there’s too big of a challenge for them. I think they love big challenges, and the bigger the challenge the more I think they respond.”
Park Hill South had won five straight since opening Suburban Conference Red Division play with a loss to St. Joseph Central. Now 13-4 and still ranked in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 top 10, the Panthers were scheduled to host Liberty on Tuesday, Jan. 24, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Park Hill South 60, Liberty North 49
The Panthers beat Liberty North for the second time in a span of a week, dominating a semifinal matchup in the tournament Wednesday, Jan. 18 in North Kansas City, Mo.
After going to overtime in a Suburban Conference Red Division matchup six days earlier, Park Hill South limited the Eagles to just seven points in the second quarter and pulled away from there behind 13 points apiece for Kline and Williams and 10 from Robinson.
Perkins added nine with Park Hill South’s top four scorers again carrying much of the offensive burden.
Park Hill South 63 Raymore-Peculiar 37
Williams and Robinson combined for 34 points and seven 3-pointers in a first-round win Tuesday, Jan. 17 in North Kansas City, Mo.
Williams led Park Hill South with 19 points on four 3s, while Robinson added 15 on three 3s. Perkins also scored in double figures with 12 points. The Panthers hits eight 3s total and pulled away with 18 points in the fourth quarter.