As soon as the 39th edition of the Lee’s Summit High School Culver’s Classic boys basketball tournament was in the books, Lee’s Summit West coach Michael Schieber was ready to move on.
And who could blame him?
Of all the teams in the eight-team tournament that ended Jan.25, Schieber’s Titans had the most impressive run of all, dominating all three of their games en route to their third straight title, which they claimed with a 70-47 romp over Columbia Rock Bridge.
“I think the biggest thing we take away from this tournament is that it’s behind us now,” said Schieber, whose team has now won three tournaments this season. “We’ll enjoy it tonight and then we have to get back to the grindstone and work on the things we need to get better at.”
It was hard to find much West wasn’t good at during the tournament, and that was especially true in the final. Rock Bridge, 13-3, simply had no answer for West’s speed and athleticism, much like the other two teams the Titans faced. The Titans were quicker on the floor and their size under the basket proved too much for the Bruins.
“We really wanted to take advantage of our ability to score around the basket,” Schieber said. “I thought we did a lot better job of that the last three quarters. Defensively we were able to string some stops together and that gave us some momentum going into halftime.”
West, 12-2, ended the second half with a 9-0 run that effectively put the game away. The run include a Monte Harrison slam, a Ryan Williams three-pointer and two baskets by Thomas Ganaden. West led 39-23 by halftime and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the game.
Harrison, who was selected to the all-tournament team along with teammate Jarred Dixon, led the Titans with 25 points and finished with a 22.7 points-per-game average for the three games. Dixon had 14 points and a 17.7 tournament average.
But the most pleasant surprise for Schieber and the Titans came from Ganaden, who came off the bench to score 18 points.
“Tonight I was able to run the floor and my teammates were able to find me, and they did a great job doing that,” Ganaden said. “And I was able to finish some plays and came up big.”
Lee’s Summit tried to come up big against Columbia Hickman in the third-place game, but cold shooting and some sloppy play doomed the Tigers to a 63-50 loss. Drew Lock led the Tigers with 25 points and averaged 15.7 points for the tournament.
“That’s a very good basketball team that’s lost one game,” Little said of Hickman, whose only loss this season came against West in the semifinals. “And I hope our guys learn that the difference between us and a team like that right now is that every time we made a mistake they took advantage of it. And when they made mistakes we didn’t necessarily.”
Lee’s Summit North finished in sixth place after falling to Raytown South 60-54 in the fifth place game. North led 41-31 midway through the third quarter before the Cardinals battled back with help from the Broncos, who struggled offensively after taking their big lead. Caleb Berry finished his solid tournament run with 18 points.
“We’re heading in the right direction, with the exception of tonight’s second half,” North coach Mike Hilbert said of his young 6-8 squad. “I’ve got a group that’s got to stay focused for 32 minutes. If they can stay organized and in our structure, then we have an opportunity to be successful.”