KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A pair of freshmen ended up taking the biggest shots for Park Hill South in the most hostile environment the Panthers can play in.
Facing rival Park Hill for the third time this season, Park Hill South received a 3-pointer each from Desi Williams and Lamel Robinson in the closing minute of a wildly back-and-forth matchup between Suburban Conference Red Division rivals on Friday, Feb. 12. Robinson’s gave the Panthers a brief lead, and Williams provided the game-winner with 3.4 seconds left at Park Hill High School.
Park Hill focused defensive efforts on Park Hill South senior Ryan Welty, allowing Williams and Robinson to score 21 points apiece in a 54-51 victory.
“It’s definitely my highlight of the season,” Williams said. “It probably the best game I’ve played in a while. It feels good to get the slump off of my shoulders. I learned the first year isn’t always pretty. You bounce back and you find a way to get wins with your teammates.”
Tightly contested throughout, Park Hill senior Kentrez Bell gave the Trojans a 49-48 lead with 42.2 seconds to play.
Robinson followed with his clutch 3 to put Park Hill South up two with 16.2 seconds to play, and Park Hill didn’t waste any time providing a hint of overtime possibilities. Dru Smith, a junior guard, hit another shot for the Trojans, leaving the score tied at 51 with 11 seconds to play.
That left too much time for Park Hill South, which ended up getting a 3-point attempt from the top of the key that Williams buried. Welty, a 6-foot-7 all-state forward who finished with four points, stole Park Hill’s ensuing long inbounds pass, allowing the jubilant visitor’s section to celebrate.
“The last minute was unbelievable,” Park Hill South Dan Parra said. “What a great ending. The plan was if they make a 3 we would call a timeout down one. If they made a two, we were going with it get the ball to Desi or (junior guard Jacob Kline). It ended up in Desi’s hands, and he made the 3 when it counted.”
Park Hill South won the first matchup between the two in the Liberty North Invitational before Park Hill took the first of two league matchups late last month.
The third matchup came down to the talented freshmen making plays. Williams put up 17 of his 21 points after halftime, including 12 in the third quarter. He used cuts to the basket to get open with Welty drawing double teams in the high post.
Robinson scored 10 straight points for Park Hill South in the fourth quarter. The only other points for the Panthers came on Williams’ opener and his 3 to win it.
“I want to think all of the older dudes who trusted me and Desi to come in and do our part,” Robinson said. “We did our part tonight. I’m just happy for us all. I have a lot of confidence in me. My teammates trust me to take the big shot and I took it.”
The win moved Park Hill South back to .500 at 10-10 and 2-4 in the Suburban Conference Red Division. Park Hill dropped to 11-10 with a 3-3 record in league play.
The two school’s potentially have another meeting on the horizon with both schools assigned to Class 5 District 16 for postseason play. Park Hill South won the district crown over Park Hill last year before a run to the state title game.
In 2014, Park Hill snapped a two-decade long playoff drought with an upset win over the top-seeded Panthers.
“We know with Park Hill South it’s going to be a four-round battle,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said. “The teams are pretty evenly matched. We’ll probably see each other in districts. We just have to know we can compete with Park Hill South and the next time we’ll see them it will be for all the marbles in districts.”
Smith led Park Hill with 13 points, with seniors Tanner Morrison (11) and Brandon Townsell (10) also reached double figures.
Just five players for Park Hill South cracked the scoring column with junior forwards Daniel Miller (two) and Conner Lee (six) accounting for the other offensive contributions.
Liberty 69, Park Hill South 53
The Bluejays won their fifth straight, using a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take control Tuesday, Feb. 9 in Liberty, Mo.
Park Hill South led 15-14 early in the second quarter when Liberty’s big run started. The Bluejays hit four 3s in the quarter and took a 33-22 lead into halftime, an advantage that swelled to 16 by late in the third quarter.
Welty led Park Hill South with 27 points, while Robinson added 15, including three 3s. Welty hit a pair from beyond the arc.
Truman 78, Park Hill 72
The Patriots kept hitting free throws during a wild fourth quarter that featured 63 total points scored Tuesday, Feb. 9 in Independence, Mo.
Up 11 entering the fourth quarter, Truman yielded 34 points to the Trojans but also ended up 32-for-40 on free throws overall to hang on for the win. Reid Titus scored a game-high 35 for the Patriots.
Park Hill ended up more balanced in the loss with Bell totaling 12, Townsell and Peyton LaFerla with 11 apiece and senior forward Tanner Zeil with nine.
Grandview 52, Platte County 39
The Pirates were unable to win a second straight Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup when the offense dried up Friday, Feb. 12 in Grandview, Mo.
Tied at 19 midway through the third quarter, Platte County scored only 20 more and couldn’t keep up with Grandview’s surge. The Bulldogs led 19-13 at halftime before surrendering a 6-0 run, but they came back to put up 16 points in the final 4:36 of the third quarter.
Grant Carver led Platte County with 15 points.