Lee’s Summit coach Blake Little wondered how his team would handle the disappointment of having its Court-Warming game with rival Lee’s Summit North pushed back a day.
All week long the Tigers had been building up to playing the Broncos in front of a big crowd. But icy conditions turned the Friday night affair into a Saturday matinee.
Turns out Little didn’t have to worry. Lee’s Summit came out ready to play and rolled to a 67-52 Suburban Conference Big Six victory over the Broncos on Feb. 1 in the Tigers’ gym.
“I was excited with the way our kids handled the change,” Little said after the Tigers improved to 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big Six. “It was obviously a big conference game, a big rivalry game and Court Warming. I thought our kids did a nice job of coming in with the change and being ready to from the very beginning.”
And Lee’s Summit did look prepared, hitting the Broncos with a balanced offense powered by four players scoring in double figures and a defense that kept North off the scoreboard for long stretches.
Jordan Bennett, whose 17 points paced the Tigers, admitted being disappointed about waiting a day, but in the end he said it didn’t matter.
“We were ready to play Friday night, but we just went home, got some good sleep and came back (Saturday) morning prepared to put on a show,” said Bennett, a junior forward. “A lot of the guys play AAU basketball, so they’re used to getting up early on weekends.”
North looked ready to play, too, and the two teams battled back and forth through the first quarter, which ended with Lee’s Summit on top 17-15.
But the Tigers put the clamps on the Broncos in the second quarter. Caleb Berry, North’s leading scorer with 17 points, hit a bucket in the quarter’s first minute, and the Broncos wouldn’t score again until hitting a free-throw with 18 seconds left. In between, North missed 13 shots while the Tigers built a 29-18 halftime lead.
The third quarter proved more of the same as Lee’s Summit gradually built a 48-24 lead.
“We played as well as we’ve played defensively in the second quarter and it carried over to the third quarter,” Little said. “Those two quarters there we were as good defensively as we’ve been all year.”
While impressed with Lee’s Summit’s defense, North coach Mike Hilbert said the Broncos created some of their own problems as they fell to 6-10 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
“We just failed to execute offense,” Hilbert said. “You could say we gave up way too many points and we didn’t defend, but our lack of execution and our lack of organization and our inability to run offensive sets is making it very, very difficult for us to score the ball.”
Besides Bennett, Lee’s Summit also got double-digit scoring from Drew Lock (15 points), Blake Spellman (11) and Bruce Bias (10). That, Little said, demonstrated just how well the Tigers clicked on offense.
“We play our best when we share the ball,” Little said. “We have a couple of star players in Drew and Blake, but we have a team that really shares it well and we have a lot of guys who can make plays.”
Even on a Saturday afternoon. And Little expects his team will have to get up for some more matinees later in the season.
“It’s the first time we’ve been in an environment like that and hopefully one we’ll see again,” Little said. “Sometimes those quarterfinal games, those sectional games are played at odd times.”