Pirates withstand challenge from ‘resilient’ Lions, 45-37
Rankings mean very little to the Lansing High boys basketball team, but rankings also are very telling about the caliber of basketball the Lions are playing.
An 0-6 start to the season guaranteed Lansing would not show up on any polls this season, but since then it has won five of its last seven games. The two losses during that span were a seven-point setback to Atchison, the No. 5-ranked team in Class 4A, on Jan. 15 and a 45-37 loss Tuesday night at home to Piper, the No. 2-ranked team in 4A.
Lansing (5-8 overall, 2-4 Kaw Valley League) had numerous chances to beat Atchison, and it had plenty of opportunities against Piper.
"We're starting to become resilient," first year LHS coach Rod Briggs said of his team's ability to hang with ranked opponents. "We keep coming at you. Other teams when they get a lead have a natural reaction to relax a little bit, and we've shown our team to be pretty resilient. We're starting to become a lot more tough-minded, and we've got guys that are competing."
The Lions were mentally tough early as they shrugged off a nine-point deficit early in the second quarter and rallied to within a point. A Jeff Jackson layup, a Cody Rush jumper from the elbow, a Will Johnson jumper from the free throw line and a Jackson free throw pulled them within 20-18 before Austin Bond's steal and dunk sent the Pirates into halftime with a 22-18 lead.
An 11-point first quarter by Nate Daniels and Bond's jam just before halftime were the primary differences during the first half.
"We made Bond and Daniels earn all but a few of their points," Briggs said. "You throw it to (Bond) for a dunk, that's the difference in the game."
Johnson banked in a shot to pull LHS within two on the first possession of the third quarter, but the Lions proceeded to go scoreless and turn the ball over seven times in the next six minutes. Meanwhile, Piper opened up a 31-20 lead.
Lansing fought back to within 35-30 on back-to-back buckets and two free throws by Jeff Jackson and a backdoor layup by Bobby Hauver, but the Lions never got any closer.
Daniels led Piper with 20 points and Bond had 13. Jackson led Lansing with 11 points, Hauver had six and Curtis Beall added five.
Lansing next plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Basehor-Linwood. Basehor won the earlier meeting 61-50 on Dec. 12.
Unlike Atchison and Piper, Basehor is not ranked. Briggs said the Bobcats are very good, though. They are 9-4 overall and 7-0 against KVL opponents.
"I almost think Basehor might be as good or better overall than Piper," Briggs said. "It's going to be a huge challenge because they do a lot of really good things."