KC Washington led 33-29 late in the second quarter Friday at Leavenworth High School, but the home team Pioneers repeatedly drove to the hoop and made free throws to pull away, 71-55, and advance to today’s Citizens National Bank Tournament title game.
“We just sustained it a little bit longer and played better basketball,” LHS head coach Larry Hogan said.
Senior Cameron Wiggins led the Pioneers with 26 points for the second straight game.
Junior Jeromie Simmons added 14 points in his second varsity game.
“Coming in, I just believed in myself and said I could do it,” Simmons said.
He hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the right corner to put LHS up 9-8 in the first quarter. He tipped in a basket off a miss a minute and a half later to make it 11-10 Pioneers.
Sophomore Dominique Miller got going in the second quarter and scored 17 points.
“A couple of our young kids had a deer in the headlights look last night,” Hogan said. “Jeromie and Dominique really stepped it up tonight. The bench really picked us up, I thought, in general.”
Miller scored nine points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer to get within two points in the middle of the period, and a tip in off a miss to take the lead with 3:09 left before halftime.
LHS was up 53-47 going into the fourth quarter, and Miller scored the first five points with a layup and an old-fashioned three-point play.
Wiggins scattered in his own momentum-shifting plays throughout the game.
He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to stop a 5-0 Wildcat run to start the game.
He also had an old-fashioned three-point play late in the first and second quarter.
When the Pioneers were up 62-49 with about five minutes left, Wiggins knocked down five of six free throws.
The Wildcats went nearly four minutes in the middle of the fourth quarter without scoring. LHS pulled down rebounds off Wildcat misses.
“That’s big when you dig in and get stops,” Hogan said. “There was a lot of scrapping going on for that ball around the basket.”
The Wildcats set up double teams and traps in the final two minutes, but LHS moved the ball and KC Washington was forced to foul.
“We’ve been working on a spread and running not just as a delayed type of thing, but as an offense as well,” Hogan said.
Raytown South will play KC Wyandotte at 11 a.m. today, and the Pioneers will play the winner at 6 p.m. for the tournament championship.