Crowd lifts LHS boys past Immaculata
Leavenworth The gymnasium at Immaculata High School was rocking Tuesday night, and Lansing High boys basketball coach Rod Briggs loved every minute of it.
Of course, a lot of that had to do with his squad winning the annual rivalry game, 56-45.
But, Briggs admitted, the noise made by two spirited student sections also had plenty to do with it.
"I told the kids, 'I love these types of little gyms like this because it's loud and has atmosphere,' and it was a fun game to play in because it gives you a lot of energy," he said.
Lansing's students urged the Lions to erase an early 6-3 deficit, and then the students grew louder as their team took charge of the game late in the first quarter. A floater and a three-pointer by sophomore Curtis Beall, back-to-back baskets by senior Jeff Jackson, a pair of free throws from junior Chris Hill and a put-back by junior Kevin Johnson gave the Lions an 18-12 advantage after the first eight minutes.
LHS then switched its defense from man-to-man to zone in the second quarter to slow down Immaculata sharpshooters Derek Kooser and Jeff Matzeder. The strategy worked as the Raiders made just two field goals in the quarter and turned the ball over six times.
"That's the most zone I've probably ever played in my career," Briggs said. "Usually I'm a man-to-man guy, but I thought our kids did a great job in the zone and got out on the right shooters and really didn't give them many looks."
Meanwhile, the Lions pounded the ball inside to sophomore Cody Rush and juniors Stephen Didde and Will Johnson. The trio combined for 11 points in the quarter and the Lions took a 34-22 lead into halftime.
Matzeder, Kooser and Brian Boarman fueled a Raider rally in the third quarter as they pulled within 39-35, but the Lions went back to playing zone and extended their lead at the free throw line. They made 10 of 14 charities in the fourth quarter and pulled away for the victory.
Beall and Clayton Hall led LHS with 11 points apiece, Didde had eight and Rush and Bobby Hauver added seven apiece. Kooser led Immaculata with 12 points.
Lansing snapped a two-game losing skid with the win and improved to 7-12 for the season.
"This kind of gets the bad taste out of our mouth from Thursday (loss to Perry) and Friday (loss to Mill Valley)," Briggs said. "And I think we needed this one for a variety of reasons : to give us a little motivation and a little faith."
It also gives LHS some momentum entering its regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m. today at home against Bonner Springs. The two teams are in a heated battle for the No. 4-seed in next week's Class 5A substate tournament. It's likely they will play each other in substate, but tonight's winner could have home-court advantage.
"I hope everybody understands how important (this game) is, and we have a really good crowd on Thursday to support us like they did tonight," Briggs said. "I thought our student body was excellent tonight, and I thought we did a really good job of feeding off our crowd as well."