Sometimes, a basketball team just isn’t dialed in for a game. Such was the case for Lee’s Summit North on March 3.
North was taking on Blue Springs in the first round of the Class 5 District 13 tournament at Raytown, a team the Broncos had beaten twice before. But this time, Blue Springs upended North 62-50 and Broncos coach Mike Hilbert said the difference had much to do with focus.
“When I compare all three games, I think their kids were more focused tonight than in the previous two games, and definitely more focused than we were,” Hilbert said.
Perhaps it was because North had those two wins under their belt, a 51-45 triumph Feb. 10 at home and a 70-64 decision at Blue Springs. Even with the season on the line, that can’t help but make a team less sharp.
“I just thought they were prepared tonight. Simple as that,” North senior Zach Lamb said. “I think we thought we had it coming into this game, and we didn’t know what to do when things didn’t start going our way.”
That started early for North, which struggled to find the basket most of the game. Blue Springs answered with a balanced attack that featured three-point shooting, a strong inside presence and four players scoring in double figures.
“We didn’t play very well, but Blue Springs played well,” Hilbert said. “They made it difficult for us offensively, they challenged our shots and when they had the ball they were really good.”
Still, North did have an 11-9 lead after the first quarter and trailed only 24-23 at the half. But the missed shots started taking their toll in the second half, when the Wildcats outscored the Broncos 38-17 over the final two periods.
Blue Springs scored the first six points of the third quarter, punctuated by a Darius Vaughn three-pointer that made it 30-23. North, meanwhile, missed its first six shots of the period.
“Inside, outside, (we were) as cold as the weather was,” Hilbert said. “So you try to find easier shots, you try to find better shots and we got those. But I thought Blue Springs just challenged us at the rim and we weren’t able to convert.”
North never led after that, but it did remain within 51-45 with less than 3 minutes to play. But Blue Springs made its free throws when North forced them to the line and pulled away. The Wildcats went 19 for 27 from the stripe while North shot only 10 free throws and made seven.
Tyler Lovelace’s nine points led the Broncos, who finished the season 10-15. North also got eight points each from Lamb, Josh DeBacker and Jalen Ford. Blue Springs, which advanced to play cross-town rival Blue Springs South on March 4, was led by Taysean Goodwin with 14 points.