Truman coach Billy Guinnee looked at the postgame scoring sheet, turned, and looked again.
“I’ve been coaching a long time,” the veteran Patriots boys basketball coach said, “and I’ve never seen a team hit 29 of 30 free throws. That’s what beat us tonight.”
Park Hill was almost perfect at the charity stripe, but still needed an overtime period to top the Patriots 90-85 in the semifinals of the McDonald’s Basketball Tournament at Blue Springs High School.
The Trojans were 14 of 15 from the line in the fourth quarter and a perfect 10 of 10 in overtime to claim the nail-biting victory.
“We shot ourselves in the foot at the line,” said Guinnee, after his 1-3 team hit just seven of 16 from the line in the fourth quarter and two of four in overtime. “But I watched the guys play tonight and thought to myself, ‘Is this the same team I coached last week?’ They really turned it up tonight.
“We might have lost, but we played with a lot of heart and passion. I’m proud of them, and they can walk out of here with their heads held high.”
Guards Michael Hernandez (23 points) and Dewayne Thornton (19) helped the Patriots turn up the heat on the Trojans, and Hernandez played despite painful cramps that had to be tended to three times in the game by tournament trainer Steve Morrow.
“Michael inspired us tonight,” Thornton said. “He carried us on his back. You could tell he was playing with a lot of pain, but he didn’t let that stop him giving it all he had. I wish we could have won this game for Michael.”
Guinnee agreed, adding, “(Hernandez) was our heart and soul tonight. All the guys played hard, left it all out of the court. We can build off this game, and I see good things coming for the team.”
Hernandez limped out of the locker room at Blue Springs High School and talked about a loss that defied imagination.
“They missed one free throw all night – one!” Hernandez said. “When (Landry Shamet) hit that late 3-pointer to tie the game (at 76-all in regulation), I’d just missed a free throw. I gave it everything I had, but if I’d have just made that free throw, we probably win the game.
“I hate to think about that, but I am so proud of how hard we played. We’re going to be a good team, a real good team this season.”
Louis Reinmiller, who scored just two points in regulation, hit six of six free throws to ice the win for the Trojans. Shamet led Park Hill with 25 points.
Truman will play in the 3:45 p.m. third-place game Saturday at Blue Springs High School.
BLUE SPRINGS 64, SCHLAGLE 54: Cody Isabel scored a game-high 18 points and Kirk Finley added 11 to lead the 2-1 Wildcats to a win over Schlagle that puts them in the 8:30 p.m. fifth-place game tonight at Blue Springs South High School.
“It was pretty close for most of the game, and we figured out a way to win it,” Wildcats coach Adam Jones said. “We’re still trying to find out identity. We don’t have a lot of players out there with a lot of experience, so it was nice to find a way to get this win.”
BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH 73, ROCKHURST 67, 2OT: Coach Jimmy Cain’s Jaguars needed two overtime periods to get a win over a Hawklet squad that ousted them in sectionals last season.
“I saw the guys really play as a team, bond and develop some chemistry late in this game,” said Cain, as the score was knotted at 59-all after regulation and 61-all at the end of the first overtime. “They did everything they could to keep Kevin (Puryear) from dominating the game, and that opened some things up for K.J. (Robinson) and some of the other guys.
“I thought K.J. played a great game. He really kind of took it over late in regulation and on into the overtime periods.”
Robinson, a sophomore guard, led South with 25 points.
The Hawklets missed three of four free throws in the final 33 seconds of regulation, and Robinson hit two late free throws to tie the game at 59-all. The biggest overtime play came when Braendon Kilgore tied up a Hawklet, forcing a turnover. The South junior guard then found Jacob Towler under the basket, and he hit an uncontested layup.
“When we really needed the guys to come up with some big plays, they did,” Cain said. “Now, we get to play Blue Springs for fifth place over at our place.”