Lee’s Summit got to end an odd week on a positive note Feb. 8.
The Tigers raced off to a 21-7 lead and Raymore-Peculiar could never recover as they claimed a 72-54 victory at Lee’s Summit.
Last week’s snowstorm kept both Lee’s Summit and Ray-Pec out of school and out of the gym most of the week and forced both teams to play on back-to-back nights. Lee’s Summit broke even in its two games, but the Panthers suffered losses to two Lee’s Summit teams, having lost to Lee’s Summit North the night before.
“(Not practicing) makes a difference,” Ray-Pec coach Scott Jermain said. “We don’t have a lot of guys and legs get tired, not to make excuses because they had a game last night, too. … Something you just got to push through.”
Both outside shooting and getting to the paint fueled the Tigers’ hot start against the Panthers. Of the Tigers’ 21 first-quarter points, 12 came on long-range baskets from three different players. As an indication of how things were going, Lee’s Summit’s Bruce Bias pulled up from about 30 feet for a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter.
Ray-Pec, 6-15, overall and 0-3 in the Suburban Conference Big Six, made two runs at the Tigers (13-5, 3-1), one in each half.
“The biggest thing is they’re a very well-coached team,” Tigers’ coach Blake Little said. “They play hard. We knew they were going to make a run at us. We had to respond to that run.”
Using a 10-3 run started by a three-pointer from Nate Janssen, Ray-Pec closed the gap in the second quarter, getting to within 27-19. The Tigers closed the half on an 8-2 run for a 35-21 halftime lead.
With four points from Jordan Hill, the Panthers pulled to within 40-32. After a quiet first half, Drew Lock answered for the Tigers.
In transition after Jason Chambers hit a jumper to make the score 40-32, Lock knocked down an open three. After a stop, Lock converted on an old-fashioned thee-point play after Chambers fouled him on a transition layup.
“Drew Lock came through in a pretty clutch time,” Jermain said. “He made some big plays there when we got it to eight. Good players do that. He did.”
Lock scored just three points in the first half, all from the charity stripe, but finished the game with 19 points.
“People who haven’t seen us play much don’t understand how balanced we really are,” Little said. “Drew gets a lot of the headlines because Drew is great player. Drew’s averaging 20 a game, but we have other guys that can do it and we’ve got three other guys who are averaging 10 points a game.
“When we share the ball, we’re really good. And that’s what we did early in the game.”
Nick Larkin followed up with a transition layup to push the lead to 48-32 with 1:02 left in the third quarter and the Panthers didn’t threaten again.
James Sappington led the Panthers with 13 points and Hill added 10.
Free throws hurt the Panthers throughout the game, as they went 17-for-29 from the stripe. The game wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand early had the Panthers not started 4-of-10 from the line, a stark contrast from their 10-for-11 effort Friday.
“It pulls you closer at the end,” Jermain said. “It makes a big difference. Their free-throw defense was good tonight.”
After not playing for two weeks, Ray-Pec had to play back-to-back nights. The Panthers fell to Lee’s Summit North 67-61 at home on Feb. 7. Lee’s Summit was also coming off a loss, falling to Blue Springs South 64-54 in a key Big Six match.
“I think you lose a little bit of your swagger, a little bit of your rhythm, so to speak,” Jermain said.
As well as getting to the line more often and the Panthers, the Broncos knocked down eight from long distance.
“That’s a big, big difference,” Jermain said. “We were kind of counting on them not shooting as well. Obviously, you’ve got to knock down some shots, but they shot the ball really well. That’s what good teams do.”