Tigers defeat Ruskin in season opener

Special to The JournalDecember 12, 2013 

In its first basketball game of the season, Lee’s Summit looked like a team that was, well, playing its first basketball game of the season.

Despite the jittery nerves and sometimes sloppy play, Lee’s Summit still showed enough good things to take a 70-46 victory over Ruskin Dec. 6 in a boys’ game at the LSHS Fieldhouse.

Lee’s Summit looked tight in the early going, which kept the Tigers from getting in the flow with their offense. But once the Tigers relaxed, they were able to find their footing and use their defense to fuel two runs that put the game away.

Which was more or less what Lee’s Summit coach Blake Little expected to see in the season debut.

“You never know what you’ve got until the lights come on,” Little said. “I felt like we adjusted pretty well, and once we got our legs under us I thought we played pretty well.”

Lee’s Summit’s Drew Lock, who had only two weeks of practice after quarterbacking the Tigers football team to the Class 6 quarterfinals, is still looking for his basketball legs. Lock, a 6-foot-5 forward, led the Tigers with 24 points, but he also missed a dunk, blew a layup and air-balled a three-pointer.

“I definitely felt like I just came off of playing football,” Lock said. “But I definitely enjoyed getting back into the swing of things basketball-wise.”

And once he does, Little expects big things out of the versatile Lock, who hit a three pointer playing on the wing and made his presence felt under the basket.

“We’ve only seen a few flashes here and there of the kid Drew’s capable of being,” Little said. “He’s still trying to get that flow of the game. And I thought he did a really nice job of giving us what we needed.”

Lee’s Summit never trailed, but Ruskin kept it close early, trailing only 18-15 after the first quarter thanks mainly to sophomore guard Nate Washington, who led all scorers with 25 points.

It was 18-18 early in the second quarter when the Tigers started pulling away. A Lock basket and two more off mid-court steals by Bruce Bias and Blake Spellman, who fed the ball to Lock for a bucket, fueled an 8-0 run as the Tigers raced out to a 34-23 halftime lead.

The Tigers then put the game away with a 14-2 run in the third quarter that was also powered by Ruskin turnovers. Bias, who finished with 17 points, scored two baskets and Oliver Edwards had eight points as Lee’s Summit built a 52-30 lead by the end of the quarter.

“Our mentality has to be defensive stops equal runs,” Little said. “We had about four consecutive possessions where we got a stop which led to a deflection which led to a steal which led to a layup. And I’d much rather get easy baskets than hard baskets and the way you can do that is by playing hard on defense.”

That’s the message Little has been trying to send to his team since the start of practice. Now that his team has one game under its belt, he has a better idea of how well that message is being received.

“There’s a big gap between what we can be and where we are,” Little said. “But I very much like our team I like the potential of our team. And I think once we get it figured out we could be a tough match up for people down the stretch.”

Lee’s Summit’s junior varsity opened its season with a 61-53 victory over Ruskin. Conner Gibson scored 17 points and J.T. Thomas added 14 for the Tigers.

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