One last growing pain
Young Lions close wild season with 36-35 loss in substate tourney
The Lions got the shot they wanted, and they got the ball to the shooter they wanted.
They just didn't get the result they wanted.
Clayton Hall's three-point try bounced off the rim as time expired, and the Lansing High boys basketball team's season ended with a 36-35 loss to Bonner Springs in the first round of the Class 5A substate tournament Thursday night at Johnsmeyer Gymnasium.
The shot was a rare miss for Hall, who scored a game-high 19 points and made five of his seven three-point tries.
"I'm very proud of the fact that we got that shot," first-year LHS coach Rod Briggs said. "That was very good execution at the end of the game. We called a timeout, and we executed our play and we got the shot. If it goes in, we're really happy."
Hall was on fire all night, but the rest of the Lions struggled offensively. Hall was six-for-10 from the field, but his teammates were a combined three-for-20. The one place they were red-hot from was the free throw line where they made 12 of 14 tries.
Bonner Springs was 12-for-40 from the field and 12-for-19 from the stripe.
Lansing struggled from the field all night. It went the first 4:57 without a field goal before a Hall three-pointer gave LHS a 3-2 lead. He hit another trey at the buzzer. Sandwiched between Hall's threes was a Kevin Johnson free throw, and the game was tied at 7-all after the first eight minutes.
Hall added another three-pointer in the second quarter, and Jeff Jackson and Bobby Hauver each added baskets, but the Lions trailed 15-14 at halftime.
Two more Hall treys in the third quarter and a pair of free throws from Curtis Beall and Cody Rush amounted for all 10 of Lansing's points in the quarter. The Lions also forced four turnovers in the quarter and held the Braves to six points. Despite no Lion other than Hall having more than two points after three quarters, they led 24-21.
Lansing extended its lead to 26-21 early in the fourth quarter on a 10-foot jumper by Jackson. The Lions led by five again at 30-25 when Beall sank two free throws with 2:42 left, but a few defensive breakdowns and sloppy passes allowed the Braves to tie the game.
The final straw came when the Lions didn't box out on a miss by Matt Caquelin in the final seconds. Martin Birch grabbed the rebound and missed the follow-up try, but Caquelin grabbed a rebound for a third chance. He was fouled with five seconds left. He made the first of two free throws and gave the Braves a 36-35 lead. His second shot missed. The Lions rebounded, pushed the ball up the court and found Hall open in the near corner. His three-point try wouldn't fall, though, and there was no time left for a put-back.
"You've got to give credit to Bonner Springs," Briggs said. "They played good enough to win. (Caquelin) was definitely the difference maker for them tonight. He didn't really get to play much the other time because he had a sore ankle, and he was the difference in the game."
Caquelin led Bonner with 16 points. In addition to Hall's 19-point effort, Beall had seven points and Jackson added four.
Lansing ended its season with a 8-13 record, but it was a season full of growth and progress. The Lions lost their first six games of the year and went 8-7 the rest of the way. It was marked improvement for a squad that had just two returners with any varsity experience prior to the season.
"We really made progress through the course of the year," Briggs said. "We've got a chance to be very strong next year. If everybody works hard over the summer, gets bigger and stronger and keeps the right mindset, then we'll be good. But we've got to improve and learn.
"We've got a really good group of guys, really good people to be around. They're kids, but they're a little bit better than most, I think. I think we're very fortunate to get to coach these guys."
Assuming there are no transfers, Jackson is the only varsity player the Lions will lose as he was their only senior.
After being one of the Kaw Valley League's youngest and most inexperienced teams this season, LHS should be one of the league's most veteran clubs next season. Briggs said he hopes that experience will pay off.
"We're going to have quite a few seniors next year, so that should really, really help us," Briggs said. "Seniors either play with a lot of urgency or they don't really help you, and I think this group is going to be really good for (helping)."