NORTH KANSAS CITY — Truman boys basketball coach Billy Guinnee’s summary of his team’s performance in the North Kansas City Invitational called to mind the title of a classic Clint Eastwood western.
It was “good, bad and ugly,” Guinnee said.
Guinnee saw the good during Friday night’s 78-71 third-place win over Raymore-Peculiar at the North Kansas City Fieldhouse.
“I think (this was) kind of the game we’ve been looking for all season, really,” he said. “I thought (this was the) first time we’ve ever made the extra passes, found the easier looks. Looked more like a team tonight than we have all season.”
Leading scorer Dewayne Thornton said the Patriots (6-9) showed improvement in their teamwork during the 64th-annual tournament.
“And that’s what Coach is looking for, because we haven’t been playing (as a team) lately,” said Thornton, who poured in 23 points.
Thornton also said the Patriots played well on defense – at least during the second half.
“We stepped up,” he said. “That’s something that we had to do. We weren’t going to win without it.”
Thornton said that Truman’s defense was lacking “big time” during the first half – and Guinnee let the Patriots know about it at halftime, Thornton said.
“We had just worked on ... (it) yesterday for about three hours,” he said. “(We) went over time, actually.”
The Patriots defended better near the bucket the second half and did better at defending against Ray-Pec’s high-low game, Guinnee said.
“Domo (Dominikk Jones) kind of made a difference in the second half – at least altering shots in there,” he said. “He’s a bigger target to shoot over.”
Although the Patriots might have struggled defensively during the first half, they had enough offense to lead the Panthers for much of the first quarter. They led 23-20 at quarter’s end.
Ray-Pec, however, led for much of the second quarter. The Panthers were up by six briefly and led 36-32 at halftime.
“I just really thought we were the better team (the) first half of the game,” Panthers coach Scott Jermain said. “I thought we really managed it and did some good things.”
“And (the) fortunate thing (for them) is they were probably just as good,” Jermain added. “We were beating them offensively and they were beating us offensively, so it was kind of a wash. And unfortunately, we needed to play a little bit better defense – and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Sparked by their defense, the Patriots overcame a 42-41 deficit with a 12-2 third-quarter run. Leading 55-46 after three quarters, they led by double digits for much of the final quarter. A late Ray-Pec surge forced them to settle for a single-digit win.
Four Patriots scored in double figures to help the victory, including Thornton. Senior Deandre Young and sophomore Reid Titus each scored 15 points, followed by Michael Hernandez with 13.
Jason Wilson led Ray-Pec with 19 points. Jason Chambers contributed 16, followed by Nick Janssen with 13. Ben Harris scored 10 points before fouling out.