LHS boys set for tournament opener
After three straight appearances in the loser's bracket of the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament, the Lansing High boys basketball team has its eyes on the championship this season.
The Lions enter their 4:30 p.m. Monday first-round game against Jefferson County West riding a three-game winning streak. Included in that streak are lopsided victories over Mill Valley and Santa Fe Trail and a 48-40 overtime win at Turner on Friday.
Second-year LHS coach Rod Briggs said the 6-3 Lions have high hopes for making a run to the tournament finals, but he said that won't be possible if they don't get off to a good start against Jeff West.
"(We have to) play better than we did tonight (Friday against Turner) and kind of play like we did last Friday against Mill Valley," Briggs said, referencing the Lions' 60-40 win against the Jaguars. "That's basically what we've got to do. We've got to go one game at a time."
Jeff West comes in with a 1-5 record. Its latest setback was a 51-35 loss to Sabetha on Friday.
Briggs said that although Jeff West is struggling, it wouldn't be a pushover by any means. In fact, he said the Lions' big men should have their hands full with 6-foot-6 Tom Shirley, the younger brother of former Iowa State standout and NBA player Paul Shirley.
"We played them last year, and they've got one of the better players in the state in Tom Shirley," Briggs said. "Last year we did a good job on him and held him to five points, but we don't count on doing that again because he's too good of a player."
Lansing slowed Shirley during last year's 49-33 win in large part because then-senior Jeff Jackson guarded him for almost the entire game. Jackson is gone now, so the defensive duties likely will fall to 6-foot-7 junior Cody Rush, 6-foot-4 junior Ryan Delich and 6-foot-5 senior Stephen Didde.
Rush leads Lansing in scoring and rebounding with 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Junior point guard Curtis Beall averages 8.3 points per contest, and junior shooting guard Clayton Hall has an 8.1 average. Other top scorers for LHS are senior Bobby Hauver (6.7 points), Didde (6 points) and senior Kevin Johnson (5.1 points).
Lansing's second-round opponent will be either Rossville or Eudora. An LHS victory against Jeff West would put the Lions in a 4:30 p.m. Friday semifinal game. A first-round loss would land the Lions in the consolation semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.