With time running out and his team holding on for dear life, Lee’s Summit West basketball coach Michael Schieber knew the Titans needed one more big play to hold off Rockhurst.
Schieber called a timeout with one minute left and a three-point lead. Rockhurst had the ball, and the Titans had the need for someone to step up big.
And Schieber knew who he wanted that someone to be.
“At the end of the timeout I turned around and looked at Monte and said, “‘Make a play,’” Schieber said.
That, of course, would be Monte Harrison. And Harrison came through, swatting away a Rockhurst shot during the final seconds that helped secure the Titans hard-fought 68-64 victory over the Hawklets on Feb. 12 on their home floor.
West had just upped its lead to 65-62 when Schieber called time. When play resumed, Rockhurst quickly got the ball down court and into the hands of Will Bazzle, who put up a shot from the baseline.
Bazzle’s shot never had a chance, not after Harrison leaped and swatted it emphatically out of bounds for his third block of the game.
“I was just like we can’t let them score,” said Harrison, who finished with a team-best 24 points and 11 rebounds. “Coach said he wanted help from the backside. We did it perfectly and I went up there and made the play.”
Rockhurst was still within three when Cartier Dean pulled up for a three-pointer with less than 15 seconds left. Dean missed the shot, and Harrison sealed the victory by grabbing the rebound and drawing a foul.
“It’s kind of nice to have a senior kid who’s been through the battles,” Schieber said. “He’s doing a lot of great things for us. It’s nice to look on your bench and see kids who have confidence and know how to win basketball games.”
West needed that expertise to hold off Rockhurst. While their record is an uncharacteristic 10-12 this season, the Hawklets are still a team with size and capable guards. Dean sliced and diced his way to 25 points, while Bazzle finished with 13.
Besides Harrison, Schieber could counter with Jared Dixon, who scored 19 points, and Gary Davis, who contributed 13 points and five assists. And it helped to have a reliable bench, too, as starting forward Dale Brown fouled out and Dixon and Richaud Dunn both had four fouls in the tightly called game.
The Titans never trailed after opening the game with a 13-2 run, but they could never put the Hawklets away. West led by as many as 14 midway through the third quarter, but Rockhurst finished the period with a 9-0 run and pulled within 50-47.
Rockhurst tied it 58-58 when Dean converted a three-point play off a drive down the lane with 3:34 left, and it was 60-60 when Harrison scored off a pass from Thomas Ganaden and also sank a free throw and put the Titans ahead to stay with 2:47 to play.
One big swat later, the Titans could breathe a sigh of relief.
“Anytime you play a team like Rockhurst, you know it’s going to be a battle,” Schieber said. “Even when we were up early we knew they were going to make a run at us. I thought our kids held their composure, they didn’t panic and we kept doing the things we needed to do.
“At the end of the day, to beat good teams, you’ve got to make one more good play than they’ve got. And we did that tonight.”