Racing out to a big, early lead served a double benefit for the Truman boys basketball team in Wednesday’s first-round matchup with Raytown in the Bank Midwest Holiday Classic at William Jewell.

Racing out to a big, early lead served a double benefit for the Truman boys basketball team in Wednesday’s first-round matchup with Raytown in the Bank Midwest Holiday Classic at William Jewell.

First, when the Patriots suffered a lapse or two, they still weren’t in any danger against a one-win Bluejays team.

Second, Truman didn’t have to sap too much from its reserves as it cruised to a 65-35 victory in the Cardinal Division at the Mabee Center and raised its record to 5-4. That certainly can’t hurt with a semifinal game at noon today against top-seeded Blue Springs South, then the championship or third-place game Friday.

“It’s nice to get up early,” said Truman senior Zach Large, who knocked down three 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 26 points. “It doesn’t take as much energy than when you’re scratching and clawing. That’ll help us a lot in the next couple days.

“We were all clicking pretty well, and we took care of the ball, for the most part.”

That was especially true in the first quarter, when the Patriots committed no turnovers and had several transition chances. Antonio Winn scored 11 of his 20 points in the period as Truman built a 20-8 lead. Reserve guard Tom Ruddy then buried a 3-ball to start the second period.

“We’re always looking to see if we can get out on the break,” Truman coach Billy Guinnee said. “We did a really good job of rebounding, and that allowed us to get out and run. Also, our guys were looking to pass the ball upcourt instead of just dribbling.”

Truman finished with a 37-25 advantage in rebounds, led by eight apiece from Winn and Large.
In the second, Trent Richardson scored eight of his team-high 10 points and Truman committed five turnovers as Raytown (1-7) closed to 30-23 with 2:24 left. But the Patriots closed the period with nine straight points.

Large scored twice off Raytown turnovers and added a corner trey in between. Then, as a 3-pointer rimmed off in the closing seconds, Zach Davis one-handed an offensive rebound and flung an off-balance buzzer-beater from 15 feet. It rattled in to give Truman a 16-point halftime lead.

The Bluejays had eight cough-ups in the third period and Large had half his scoring output as the Patriots pushed their lead to 59-31.

Guinnee said his team was guilty of trying to do too much in the second period. Once they fixed that problem, the Patriots did much more – on both ends. The Bluejays managed just 12 points in the last 18 minutes of play.

“That’s one of the things we talked about at halftime. When they make a run, instead of trying to make it all back in five seconds, let’s make sure we get a great shot,” Guinnee said. “We did a better job of that in the second half.”