Oak Grove boys basketball coach Tyler Hames and his Panthers ran into what he called “a buzzsaw” Friday night in their own gym.
That “buzzsaw” was Raytown South. And the Cardinals cut the Panthers’ season short by thumping them 76-56 in the Class 4 District 13 title game.
“The problem that I worried about all night was being able to score with them. We just couldn’t match their athleticism,” Hames said. “They had us outmanned in about almost every spot. And honestly, I think they would’ve had to play well to beat us in our own gym – and they did.”
The Panthers scored enough to stay with the Cardinals for much of the first half, trailing 16-14 at after one quarter and 33-25 at halftime.
“Obviously, we were not only in the game, but we were right where we wanted to be,” Hames said. “One or two baskets here and there and it’s a two-possession game.”
Sevon Witt helped the Cardinals pull away by scoring 18 of his game-high 27 points during the second half. Raytown South coach Aaron Ihm attributed Witt’s ability to score during the half to getting the ball down low to Witt and South’s other post players, rather than throwing up 3-point attempts, as the Cardinals had done during the first half.
“We knew that was one of the areas that we had a big advantage on them. … Sometimes, in the heat of the game, in front of big crowds, kids take some bad shots,” Ihm said. “And one thing that I’ve learned is bad shots will beat you every time.”
“They wanted us to continue shooting the threes. … That makes it easier on them,” he added. “So the second half, we came out determined to get post touches.”
Witt, who unofficially finished with 15 rebounds for a double-double, was one of two Cardinals in double figures. Jamar Madge added 13 points.
Witt and Madge helped power the Cardinals (22-5) to their fourth straight district title. They look to continue moving through the postseason by playing the District 14 champion – Center or Kansas City Central – Tuesday night at Blue Springs High School.
Oak Grove finished 19-7. The Panthers will lose five seniors to graduation this spring, including their top two scorers Friday – Jaxon Althaus and Dylon Pfeifer. Althaus paced the Panthers with 24 points, followed by Pfeifer with 16.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group,” Hames said. “This is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached at Oak Grove.”