Michael Schieber has worked under the bright lights of the state tournament before. So the Lee’s Summit West boys basketball coach knows exactly what the Titans need to do differently to have success in Columbia.
“I don’t know if there’s a specific recipe where everybody would do it,” Schieber said. “We’re trying to keep the similarities of what we’ve done all year as close as we can within the restrictions of what the state gives us.”
West (25-2) faces Chaminade (24-5) at 2:30 Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Class 5 state basketball tournament at Mizzou Arena. And while there will be some necessary changes of routine – such as travel and finding walkthrough time in Columbia – Schieber believes the best thing for the Titans is to keep everything as routine as possible, both on and off the court.
“It’s going to be who shows up and is able to do the things that they do the best,” Schieber said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of change that anybody really does at this point in the year. I think you just go do what you do and see how everybody stacks up.”
West will see how its stacks up against a Chaminade squad that is making its second consecutive trip to state after taking last year’s title. Four of the five starters from that team are now Division-I players, most notably Duke star Jayson Tatum.
But the Red Devils from St. Louis are still tall and talented. They are led by 6-foot-7 junior Jericole Hellems, who averages 21.8 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Karrington Davis, a 6-6 junior forward, averages 19.1 points and 6-4 senior guard Reggie Crawford averages 14.8. They also have a 6-11 forward, junior Liam Courtney, who comes off the bench.
“They’ve got a lot of talent,” Schieber said. “It’s going to be a tough test for us. Hopefully we can go down there and compete.”
Schieber believes the Titans will compete doing what they do best – pounding the ball inside to big men Elijah Childs and Christian Bishop, creating inside-out opportunities for guards Mario Goodrich, C.J. May and Phillip Brooks and pushing the ball for transition baskets.
Childs, a 6-8 senior forward, leads West’s balanced attack with averages of 14 points and 12 rebounds a game. Bishop a 6-7 junior forward, averages 13 points and eight rebounds. Goodrich also averages 13 points and May is chipping in 11 a contest.
West is making its third-ever final four appearance and its first since 2014, when the Monte Harrison-led Titans lost to eventual champion Christian Brothers College in the semifinals and beat Hazelwood Central in the third-place game. None of the current Titans were a part of that team, which means Chaminade will definitely have the upper hand in state-tournament experience.
But Schieber believes the Titans will come in with plenty of experience in high-stakes games. They won title games in the Fayetteville, Ark., tournament, the William Jewell Holiday Classic and the Culver’s Classic, the Class 5 District 13 tournament and gutted out a 59-57 win over North Kansas City in the Class 5 sectionals. And then there’s the long grind of Suburban Gold Conference play.
“You always worry when you’ve got a team that’s got experience on that stage,” Schieber said. “But we’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of high-level basketball, so I think it will be a pretty good basketball game.”
As long as West can stick to the routine. The only change Schieber is making in his third trip to state? Not showing up at the arena too long before the game.
“I don’t think the moment will be too big for them,” Schieber said.” I think we’ll go down there and play well and compete. And that’s all you can ask for.”