Both LVHS basketball teams felled by late 3-pointers
Remember they are young and on Friday night the Leavenworth High Pioneers' girls' basketball team got even younger as Shawnee Mission Northwest came to town,
That youth was challenged and the visiting Cougars rallied late for a 40-39 win, pulling out the stunner with a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to deny Leavenworth a third-straight win.
Leavenworth was led by McKenzie Brown's breakout, 20-point performance while Alyche Brown added nine points for the Pioneers (8-8, 3-6).
“I thought our kids played exceptionally hard and with a lot of heart,” LVHS head coach Derek Bissitt said. “I am really, really proud of them tonight. In 18 years as a head coach, I have started three freshmen total. Tonight, we started two freshmen (Aleshia Jones and Saniyah Hammonds) and three juniors and we played exceptionally hard.
“We saw a lot of positive things from these young kids doing the things we have been teaching them and emphasizing and at this point and time you like to see kids doing what you have been working on all season long.”
It was a methodical game with an almost snail-like deliberation to the pace of play, but the Pioneers found a way in the early going to establish that the recent run of games had helped boost their confidence.
Playing without Cierra Robinson, the team's lone senior who was away on a college trip and who came up big in Tuesday's win at Free State, LVHS took its time moving the ball around to find that ideal shot.
Leavenworth led 10-9 after the first eight minutes, but then they began to find a few more opportunities to get good looks and the usual defensive intensity aided them to a 21-15 lead at halftime.
Northwest, admittedly isn't quite the team it has been in recent times, but they are still a Top 10 team in Class 6A and well coached, and they came out in the second half with more intent to attack the paint and it worked as they tied the game at 24-all late in the third quarter.
The teams would go to the fourth quarter even at 26-apiece.
The Cougars got an early edge in the fourth quarter and the lead waffled between one and three points before two baskets by McKenzie Brown, the second off of a pass so sweet by Jones that ice cream went into retirement, to go up 32-31 just north of four minutes.
An Alyche Brown triple with 3:34 then bumped LVHS up to a 35-33 edge.
Then McKenzie Brown scored a big deuce at the rim with 1:50 to go to make it a two-possession game, 37-33.
“(McKenzie Brown) is a kid where we have made the emphasis to get the ball inside to her and play inside out, because we think that helps our guards to get set up and be able to shoot,” Bissitt said. “We did a nice job of getting her the ball and she competed. She was taking it right at them, getting some loose balls and taking it right to them. She did a good job of doing what we asked.”
A fourth straight make in the post by McKenzie Brown pushed LVHS to a 39-34 lead, but a Northwest three and a little bit of crazy gave the Cougars a late chance to tie or win late and that they did with a three with just under two seconds left.
Pioneers’ rally dismissed by late bomb
Leavenworth boys' basketball has made strides in 2017-18, but maybe the biggest sign of progress is the ability to overcome themselves.
On Friday, they fell behind big early thanks to honestly, not playing to a high standard, but then once they found the right mojo, LVHS came to play.
And play some more.
The Pioneers (4-12, 3-6) would ultimately go to overtime against the Cougars and there they would make the plays they needed on both ends of the floor, but in the end all that good work would be undone by a winning Northwest three in a 56-55 defeat.
Leading the Leavenworth attack was Mike Sauer (13 points), Kevin Payne (11 points) and Tah-ji Pinch (eight points).
“The guys showed a lot of character coming back, but we should be in that situation to start off with - we need to come out ready to play,” LVHS head coach Larry Hogan said. “We started in a zone, but then we didn’t close on anybody and stood there and let them shoot. Our offense was so bad early too, we had some decent looks, but we weren’t doing enough. The last part of the game, the boys played their hearts out.
“We had a lot of guys that played well at times, but we are running out of time. We have four games left and we need to win ball games.”
The first quarter was anything but what the Pioneers wanted coming out of the gate as no shot cooperated, SMNW's offense, no thing of beauty, was still able to muster enough clean looks to push out to a 14-2 lead by the time the first quarter had ended.
Slowly, the Pioneers began to feel mighty and methodically they worked their way back into the contest, cutting the deficit to a manageable 27-18 hole.
Leavenworth has become a team accustomed to the grind and on many occasions have been able to rally behind a deliberate approach with purpose and they did this again against the Cougars inching closer and closer to equilibrium pulling within 36-33 on a 3-point make by Sauer at the third quarter buzzer.
Then Payne scored on a hoop and harm in the opening seconds of the final eight minutes of regulation to force a tie game at 36-all.
Two more layups by Payne gave LVHS 38-36 and 42-39 leads, with the second make involving a scoop in the lane that had Dairy Queen servers taking notes.
With the game tied late at 46 apiece, the Pioneers worked the clock down until Sauer was fouled and went to the line to shoot a one-and-one. He drilled both opportunities to put his boys up 48-46, but SMNW would ultimately tie it with 28 seconds left.
Having a chance to win it in regulation, the Pioneers failed to get a clean look and failed to score and Northwest couldn't make it happen in the final four seconds sending both teams to the extra session.
The teams exchanged good plays to score in response to the other until Zach Thiel hit two free throws with 31 seconds left to make it 55-53 in LVHS’ favor.
However, a Cougars' 3-pointer with 11 seconds left would account for SMNW’s final and most important points of the game.
LANSING boys 62, Tonganoxie 48: The winning Lions got a 17-point performance by Logan Barnhard and used a 29-16 first half to secure the road win.
BASEHOR-LINWOOD boys 61, Turner 43
PLEASANT RIDGE boys 39, McLouth 35
LANSING girls 43, Tonganoxie 27
BASEHOR LINWOOD girls 49, Turner 27
PLEASANT RIDGE girls 49, McLouth 40