Tigers lock into quarters

Special to the JournalMarch 14, 2014 

Looking for a bit of a jumpstart on the offensive side of the floor, Lee’s Summit junior standout Drew Lock took his game to another level in the second half of Wednesday’s Class 5 state sectional contest against Fort Osage at the Independence Events Center.

Lock scored at the rim, from the outside and from the free-throw line in a 20-point second half as the Tigers advanced with a 67-58 win and a date in the state quarterfinals against cross-town rival Lee’s Summit West at 2:45 p.m. March 15 back at the Events Center.

But the Indians didn’t make it easy.

“When you get in the playoffs you’re playing good teams. Fort is an excellent team,” Tigers coach Blake Little said. “They did some things teams haven’t done against us this year. They got after it and pressured us full court. They give you all kinds of trouble.

“I felt like we prepared really well. We were focused. Fort gave us a great shot.”

The Tigers looked as if they might run away with the game early on, jumping out to a 10-0 lead, but Fort Osage slowly crept back in the game. A Blake Spellman three-pointer just before the buzzer gave the Tigers a 30-26 lead at the half.

The third quarter was when Lock started to look more for his shot, as he got an early layup to extend the lead. The Indians eventually cut the deficit to 37-36 but Lock would score the final eight points of the quarter for the Tigers, including a last-second three to make it 45-40 going into the fourth.

“He’s been like that all year. He likes to involve his teammates early in the game,” Little said of Lock, who finished with a game-high 29 points. “We’re at our best when he’s around 20 points and everyone else contributes. But in the second half he had to take over. He decided it would be his.”

While the Indians hung around, each time they got close the Tigers would answer with a basket. When it got to 45-44, Lock scored and Spellman added two free throws to bump the lead back up to five.

When the lead was cut to 49-47, Jordan Bennett hit two free throws and Lock followed it up with four straight points to make it 55-47, the Tigers’ largest lead since 12-2 in the first quarter.

For the game there were nine different occasions in which Fort Osage cut the lead from two possessions to one possession, but they only got it tied once – at 24-all – and never took the lead.

“They’re a resilient group,” Little said of his team never surrendering the lead. “Our motto all year has been ‘The team, the team, the team.’ When things get tough, who are you going to rely on? Your teammates. They rally together and different guys make plays.”

The Tigers will need to make even more plays when they face off against the fifth-ranked Titans, who will have revenge on their minds. Lee’s Summit defeated West 62-60 back in early January.

It’ll be especially meaningful for Little to play against the Titans after being on their coaching staff before coming to Lee’s Summit.

Asked whether he wanted West to win so they could face each other in the quarterfinals, Little knew exactly what to say.

“I was just hoping we won,” he said with a smile.


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