LVHS boys fall in CNB, but not before 2nd unit makes mark

The Leavenworth Pioneer boys’ basketball team was hoping to make progress following a disappointing opening night last Friday against Topeka Seaman.

Lacking true cohesion and the ability to string good runs of team play together, the Vikings rolled to a too-easy win and the Pioneers and head coach Larry Hogan joined in the hope of seeing better results as they played host to the 23rd annual Citizens National Bank Basketball Tournament which tipped off Thursday night.

Sure, they were hoping to take bigger steps and they’d have to try while going against a basketball juggernaut in Kansas City, Missouri’s Hogan Prep Academy to start their journey in the CNB.

Well, the Pioneers would end up on the downside of a 76-56 decision against Hogan Prep, but not before displaying some flashes of solid team ball and an exciting finish with the LVHS second stringers outperforming their counterparts before the final buzzer.

Leavenworth will play Blue Valley West Friday night in a consolation semifinal.

“(The second unit) really played well,” Hogan said. “What I told (the top rotation guys) was you either perform or those guys are going to be able to play. It’s that simple. There was more (intent to play team ball), yes. But later, when things started breaking down, we started putting our head down and just driving with no constant of working as a team.

“I’ve got some (older players) who shouldn’t be panicking. They’ve played well and played varsity in the past.”

Hogan Prep came racing out of the gate to a 12-3 lead as Damien Daniels splashed two, deep 3s early on to set the tone.

The Rams can come at you via the bounce, the post up and from deep and Leavenworth was handed the full display from the tip.

Leavenworth trailed 23-11 after the first quarter, but not before showing a willingness to share the ball and at least show the intent to play team basketball to beat a strong foe.

They pulled to within 29-18 midway through the second quarter and the Pioneers had multiple chances at pulling to within double digits on multiple occasion, even putting the Rams a bit on their heels, but not being able to take advantage would come back to haunt them.

(If they hit those shots), maybe we are in the game longer,” Hogan said. 

“It was the same thing against Seaman, where we went back-and-forth and they were just tougher and able to finish plays. We didn’t and we have to. We have to stay tough when we have to be and finish plays.

“(Hogan Prep) has 10 seniors who have excellent ball movement and they made shots. This was not a bad team, but it’s not good to lose like that.”

Hogan Prep would lead 49-22 at the break, finishing the first half on a 20-4 run.

The lead ballooned to 72-39 after three quarters and was all but put to bed, but then the Pioneer second string came out ready to roll as Daniel Lentz, Nehemiah Griffin, Nathan Dalby and Alan Robinson - to name a few - looked to send fans home on a positive note.

“To be honest, we came out with the intensity and trying to get it going,” Griffin said. “Although we came out with intensity, it’s all about the win and we still lost. Yes, we did good and hopefully it does set the standard for our team to come out in the beginning and do it and not late.

“I hope it gets in their minds that if the youngins can do it, they can do it. It’s a team thing and no matter how good we did, we still lost. I could get a triple-double and if we still lost, it doesn’t matter. We came out there and did our best.  It could have been a whole blowout and come to school tomorrow with everybody saying (how bad they lost). The finish does change the image of the game and the last memory.”

It was a rough loss, but there was enough for the LVHS coaches to look at and see a potential to build from.

“I thought our overall effort was good, we just didn’t finish the plays we needed to finish,” Hogan said. “We were outrebounded by 10 in the first half and had 13 turnovers to their three. Most of the time we were settling for jumpshots instead of taking it to the rim.

“It’s still early and we have time to change things and get better. (Friday night) is key again. “I did like some things we did early in moving the basketball, we had opportunities, we just didn’t hit our shots.”