Mike Hilbert wouldn’t equate it with a driveway game of HORSE. What the Lee’s Summit North coach saw in the Broncos’ 89-78 Suburban Gold Conference loss Wednesday night to Blue Springs was an even lower form of basketball.
“It reminded me of summer open gym,” Hilbert said. And typically in the summer you don’t play any defense and there wasn’t any defense played here tonight.”
This proved perplexing for Hilbert because the Broncos, who will never be known for having lock-down defense, had been working on shoring up their defense after giving up 76 points in beating Lee’s Summit last Friday. Blue Springs (15-8 overall, 8-2 conference) has three scoring threats the Tigers don’t have and all three of them – guards R.J. Lawrence and Tyree King as well as forward Daniel Parker Jr. – took turns pouring in the points on their home floor.
Lawrence led them all with 32 points, 14 of them in the fourth quarter that helped the Wildcats seal the victory. King tallied 13 of his 23 in the first quarter, and Parker had nine of his 26 in the third.
“They had great nights,” Hilbert said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t appear we had a lot of interest or desire in playing great defense tonight and Blue Springs is too talented, too athletic and you can’t do that. They’re going to make shots if you don’t guard them.”
And North was making shots, too. The Broncos try to compensate for the lack of defense with solid perimeter shooting and they were getting that from guards Logan Jenkins and Devaunte Hawkins, who combined for 12 of North’s 14 three-pointers. Jenkins hit seven threes and scored 23 points; Hawkins splashed five threes and finished with 20. Jordan Bynum made two threes and also reached double figures with 12 points.
“I feel like we could’ve been better on the defensive end sometimes,” Jenkins said. “The shots were going down; we just needed to play better defense in general.”
North’s defense became smaller with the absence of 6-foot-7 junior Elijah Farr, who was at home battling the flu. That left the Broncos without a big body to play against Parker, a burly 6-3 Division-I football prospect.
“I would have liked to have had another body I could have thrown at him,” Hilbert said. “Daniel’s a really good player and you’ve got to have some size to match his size.”
Blue Springs led 24-19 after a back-and-forth first quarter, and the Broncos were within 28-26 after a Bynum three midway through the second quarter. Lawrence responded with back-to-back threes around a Bronco miss, and that started a 14-2 run that had Blue Springs up 42-31 by halftime.
Jenkins swished four of his threes in the third quarter, but the Wildcats matched the Broncos shot-for-shot and maintained a 64-56 lead going into the final period. North chipped away at that lead until Hawkins sank a three-pointer off an outlet pass from Hayden Bradford and made it a 69-65 game.
But Blue Springs quickly pushed its lead back to double digits, and Lawrence put it away with a personal 7-0 run. He drove the lane and drew a foul, sank a three-pointer on a rebound off his missed free throw and added another basket that put Blue Springs up 84-69 with 3:40 to play.
“I thought it was going to be an exciting last four minutes,” Hilbert said. “We cut it to (four) and then we gave up some offensive rebounds and some easy baskets in front of the rim.”
North, 11-10 overall and 6-5 in the conference, will have some time off before concluding conference play at home Tuesday against Blue Springs South. No doubt Hilbert will have the Broncos spending some of that time working on defense.
“Kind of confusing to me as a coach, but I guess that’s our M.O. this year,” Hilbert said. “All offense and no defense.”