Though a lot of new faces filled its opening night roster, not much else seemed to change for the Leavenworth boys’ basketball team.
Fueled by an active, pressure defense, the Pioneers wasted little time in enforcing its will Friday during its first game of the season.
Facing Wyandotte in the opening round of the 18th Annual Citizens National Bank Invitational Basketball Tournament, Leavenworth used a 15-2 first quarter run to blow open the contest.
At half, the advantage stood at 35-23 and two quarters later, the Pioneers walked away with a 77-60 victory.
The team will now face Topeka tonight at 8:30 p.m. for a chance to play in the tournament’s championship on Saturday.
“For a bunch of rookies, I thought they played pretty well,” Leavenworth coach Larry Hogan said. “You could tell there were some nerves in the locker room and at the beginning of the game, but then they settled in pretty well after that.”
The big first quarter surge occurred in large part due to the Pioneers forcing turnovers and bad Wyandotte shots. That led to easy buckets for Leavenworth at the other end.
“I thought we go out in transition well and really filled the lanes,” Hogan said. “Our defense was good and active and it fed into that sort of textbook fast break you want. With our three guards, Cam, Colin and Jason, and if you throw in Jeff, we can really get the ball up and down.”
The Bulldogs did chip away at the advantage in the second quarter, but Leavenworth pushed the game out of reach midway through the third by ending the period up 54-36. The fourth saw many of the team’s fresh faces get their first extended taste of varsity action.
Of all the newcomers, Colin Dougherty had perhaps the best debut as he led the team in scoring with 16 points.
“I really liked how Colin Dougherty played tonight,” the LHS coach said. “He was our leading scorer, but he also got out into the passing lanes and hustled on defense.”
Buzzer beater propels Spires
In a game that its coach labeled a must win, the Saint Mary men’s basketball team used every second of its home contest Thursday to accomplish that goal.
Going back and forth with visiting Kansas Wesleyan, Shiron Williams splashed in a bucket as time expired to present USM with a 81-79 victory.
“It was a must win for us, not really because of who we were playing, but because we were playing at home,” Saint Mary coach Jon Bishop said.
“To win this conference, you have to protect home court and this was a big one to get tonight.”
Page 2 of 2 - Even throughout, the turning point in the ball game came in the final five minutes.
Wesleyan had a sizable advantage, which was destroyed by the Spires’ team defense according to Bishop.
“The last five minutes of the game, we really guarded well,” he said. “We had to get stops because we were down by eight or nine and we did, so I was really pleased with that toughness.”
After fighting back, it came down to one shot for all the glory and with one snap of the wrist, Williams gave USM the win.
Marc McGory led the Spires in scoring with 22 while JEB Greenberg’s 10 rebounds were a team high.
Kevin Harvey had four assists.
Saint Mary, 7-5 overall and 3-0 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, will host Sterling College at 7 p.m. Saturday.