6A boys state basketball: Mayo's 41 points not enough as Blue Valley North buries Lawrence early
WICHITA — At the start of the fourth quarter of Thursday's Class 6A state semifinal, Lawrence senior standout Zeke Mayo took a look at the scoreboard.
It showed a score that led to just one thought in his mind.
"I saw we were down a lot," Mayo said of a 17-point deficit to Blue Valley North. "My instinct is to just take over."
Mayo did just that, turning in one of the most electric single-quarter scoring performances you'll ever see at a state tournament. Or any time.
Mayo hit 10 of 11 shots, including his last nine field goal attempts. He buried four straight 3-pointers and also was 5 of 5 at the free-throw line.
But his 29-point outburst in the final period wasn't near enough to give Mayo and the Lions their ultimate goal. Blue Valley North had an answer for just about everything thrown its way, taking a 71-63 victory to advance to Saturday's 2 p.m. state championship game, its first title game since 2014.
Mayo went out with a bang, scoring 41 points that left him just three shy of the 6A state tournament record of 44 set by Blue Valley North's Adam Peakes in 1991. Lawrence finished the season 20-2, unable to turn Monday's upset of three-time reigning champion Blue Valley Northwest into the program's first state title since 1995.
"They fought and fought and fought and we had some opportunities," Lawrence coach Mike Lewis said. "When those opportunities presented themselves, we couldn't quite score. When you're playing down against a good team like that, it's hard to come back. All we asked of our guys is to keep fighting, show good composure and be a good teammate and I'm proud of that."
North basketball's offense got whatever it wanted vs. Lawrence
Blue Valley North took some of the fight out the Lions early. After a Mayo bucket gave Lawrence an early 5-4 lead, the Mustangs hit a comfort zone they never really got out of.
Whatever North wanted to get offensively, it got. Six-foot-8 post Andrew Orr scored easily at the rim. Lengthy wings Nikko Taylor and Isaac Patterson attacked the rim and either got there for a bucket or kicked it to to open shooters, with both Patterson and Kernan Bundy knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.
The Mustangs hit Lawrence with a 14-0 run in the first quarter, making 6 of 12 shots in that span, and then really heated up in a 22-point second quarter that saw them connect on 9 of 14 shots.
"One thing I felt like going into postseason would be an advantage to us is our five starters play really well together with chemistry," North coach Ryan Phifer said. "It doesn't matter who's scoring, they feed off each other and whoever's hot — Kernan got hot for a while, let's get him the ball; Isaac's hot, let's get him the ball and look for mismatches. That's what we've been about all year."
Lawrence basketball struggled to find its rhythm until the fourth quarter
While North was in sync throughout the half, game really, Lawrence never really found its groove until Mayo's fourth-quarter explosion. After taking the early lead, the Lions missed their next eight shots in the first quarter and turned it over seven times in the period, falling down 18-7 with a Mayo layup in the final seconds ending a six-minute-plus drought.
After North went up 23-7 early in the third, Lawrence pulled as close as nine in the period and was within 10 after Truman Juelsgaard hit a 3-pointer with 3:07 left. But North answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Bundy and finished the half on a 10-2 run to restore a 40-22 lead at halftime.
"We were just out of rhythm a little bit and they made us pay," Lewis said. "And then the floodgates just opened."
Lawrence could only get as close as 14 in the third quarter, doing so three times only to see the Mustangs answered each run with one of their own. And even as Mayo went ballistic in the final period, North did just enough work at the free throw line (14 of 22) to lessen its impact on the final outcome.
"It was a rough start for us obviously," said Mayo, who finished the game 15 of 27 from the floor, 4 of 9 from 3-point range and 7 of 7 on free throws and also had 10 rebounds. "They made shots early and it put us in a deep hole. But we never gave up and played to the end. It was frustrating but as a player who's played for a long time, you just have to stay composed and play until the clock hits zero and the outcome is the outcome."
After having multiple players back Mayo with big games this season, Lawrence never gave him a running mate on Thursday. No other Lion had more than six points.
North, meanwhile, countered with big-time balance as Patterson finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, Orr added 17 points and Bundy had 12.
BLUE VALLEY NORTH BOYS 71, LAWRENCE 63
Blue Valley North (20-3) — Bundy 5-9 0-0 12, Taylor 4-9 1-2 9, Patterson 6-8 9-11 23, Orr 7-9 3-4 17, Adams 2-5 0-2 4, Roane 0-0 1-4 1, Gambill 0-1 0-0 0, DeVore 0-0 0-0 0, Goldberg 1-2 3-5 5, Breedlove 0-0 0-0 0, Freberg 0-0 0-0 0, Garrett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-43 17-28 71.
Lawrence (20-2) — Mayo 15-27 7-7 41, Nelson 3-10 0-0 6, Juelsgaard 2-4 0-0 6, Dooley 2-4 0-0 5, Long 1-8 0-0 3, Ryan 0-2 0-0 0, Obono 1-2 0-0 2, Oberzan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 7-7 63.
3-point goals — BV North 4-12 (Bundy 2-5, Patterson 2-3, Taylor 0-2, Orr 0-1, Adams 0-1); Lawrence 8-26 (Mayo 4-9, Juelsgaard 2-4, Dooley 1-2, Long 1-6, Obono 0-1, Nelson 0-4). Rebounds — BV North 27 (Patterson 12); Lawrence 31 (Mayo 10). Total fouls — BV North 10, Lawrence 23. Fouled out — Lawrence: Oberzan, Obono.