Lions come together just in time
All season long, Lansing High's boys' basketball players talked about needing to play together.
They talked about teamwork and about playing smart. They talked plenty but didn't seem to heed their own advice or that of coach Don Allen.
Everything changed Feb. 8, though, when the Lions dropped a heartbreaker, 46-44, to rival Immaculata in double-overtime. The Raiders entered the game undefeated in the Kaw Valley League and with only one blemish to their record. Still, despite the hype and talent difference, the Lions used their brains to their advantage. They slowed the pace of the game, made smart decisions with the ball and, most importantly, played together for a full four quarters and two overtime periods.
"If we can play like that every game we should be able to win from here on out," junior forward David Kern said following the game.
The Lions (6-11 overall, 3-8 KVL) showed they could sustain that style of play by following it up with a 48-33 victory against Tonganoxie on Friday night at the Lansing Intermediate School. It marked the third time this year the Lions had defeated the Chieftains, but more important than the victory itself was the way Lansing played - as a team.
Guards Chris Wagner, Cody Mohan and Matt Warner buried two three-pointers apiece and gave LHS its first true perimeter assault of the season. Sophomore Jeff Jackson also played his best game yet as LHS' only effective post player.
"It felt good to finally have the guards have a role in the offense instead of being all posts," Warner said. "It's the right time to have things start clicking."
Lansing then put another crisp performance together Tuesday night. Despite losing, 70-59, in overtime against Bishop Ward, the Lions again followed their game plan. They worked the ball around, made smart decisions and found Slater inside for a season-high 27 points and Kern for 16 points.
Judging by the last three games it would appear the Lions finally have figured out how they have to play if they're going to be successful down the stretch.
"It was probably at halftime when we had a five-point lead against IMAC," Wagner said of when they finally figured things out. "IMAC's No. 1 in their class, and we knew if we could play with them we could play with anybody we have to play the rest of the way leading up to sub-state."
So, why'd it take so long for the Lions to sort things out?
"I think we were just tired of losing," Warner said. "It's been a long year."