Lee’s Summit rallies to reach district final

Special to the JournalMarch 7, 2014 

Lee’s Summit overcame a rough first half March 4 with stingy defense and an offense that woke up in the second half to take down host Raytown 67-54 and advance to today’s Class 5, District 13 final.

The Tigers (18-7) knew that to win, they couldn’t just rely on Drew Lock in the second half like they did in the first. Out of his game-high 24 points, 16 came in the first half in which the Tigers scored 22 points.

“We’re at our best when everybody contributes,” said Tigers’ coach Blake Little. “If we go out and Drew scores 30, we’re probably not going to win. But if Drew goes out and scores 20 and we have a couple other guys get 12, 15 (and) 12 (points), we’re in really good shape. That’s they way we’ve played all year when we’ve been successful.”

The second half produced numerous runs.

Lee’s Summit found itself down 13 points in the late second quarter, but used an 8-0 run fueled by three straight Bluejay turnovers to start the third and pull within 33-30.

Raytown responded with its own 10-1 spurt to push the cushion to 41-31.

Four different Tigers stepped up midway through the third to give Lee’s Summit its first lead of the game, 43-42, with a 12-1 run. Grant Robbins knocked down his only three points to start the charge, followed by a layup by Bruce Bias, a put-back by Lock, and a layup and three-pointer from Blake Spellman.

Spellman finished the game with 15 points, 13 in the second half, and Bias added 14.

Despite Lock sitting most of the fourth quarter with foul trouble, the momentum continued in the last stanza. Jordan Bennett gave the Tigers the lead for good at the 5:49 mark with a long jumper to make it 49-48. Bennett scored seven points on the night.

“I was just really proud of our guys,” Little said. “For them, it’s one of the biggest games they’ve played in. They don’t have a lot of experience playing in district tournament play and having success.

“I knew that if we played the game we’re capable of, we could certainly win. That second half was the best second half we’ve played all year.”

With the lead at 57-54, the Tigers sealed the game by making six straight free throws, and playing solid defense. The Bluejays scored only two points in the last 4:30 of the game. When the Tigers didn’t get in the passing lanes or strip the ball, they contested nearly every shot in the fourth quarter.

“We did a really good job … of putting pressure on the ball and making them take tough shots,” said Little. “Really, I was just proud of the way we worked together and that we had guys decide they were going to step up and get stops.”

Lee’s Summit faces Blue Springs South, a team that’s beaten the Tigers twice this season, at 7:45 tonight at Raytown for the district title. The Jaguars took down the Tigers 64-54 on Feb. 7 and 64-60 on Feb. 25.

“We know we’re going to have to play our best game,” said Little. “It’s going to take our best game. We’ve played them tough twice, but I still don’t feel that we’ve played our best game. If we go play our best game, hopefully we’ll be in position to get the job done. But, they’re a load.”

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