• Titus' clutch shots lift Pats to title

  • Lane Titus’ final free throw attempts Friday night came at a seemingly ideal time for him – and for Truman.

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  • Lane Titus’ final free throw attempts Friday night came at a seemingly ideal time for him – and for Truman.
    The Patriots were tied with Park Hill South 50-50 when the Truman senior guard went to the line to attempt two foul shots with 1.9 seconds left in the North Kansas City Tournament championship. Titus sank both shots to help the Patriots secure a 52-50 victory at Northtown.
    The clutch shots also gave the Patriots (10-5) their fifth straight title in the annual tournament and their eighth in their last 10 appearances. It was the fifth consecutive time they have defeated South (11-4) for the tournament title.
    “I was struggling through the game with my free throws,” said Titus, who made 4-of-7 free throws and finished with 12 points. “But I just took my time, took a deep breath and made them.”
    The tight finish capped a seesaw affair. Each team led for stretches of the first quarter. Trailing 9-7, the Patriots posted a 9-0 run and went on to lead 16-12 after one quarter.
    Trailing 21-14, South reclaimed the lead with a 12-0 run. The Panthers led 26-25 at halftime. Truman sophomore guard Dewayne Thornton’s buzzer-beating jump shot made it a one-point ballgame.
    “I saw the open opportunity and I took it,” said Thornton, who led the Patriots with 20 points.
    The Panthers opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to stretch their lead to 34-25. But the Patriots answered with a 10-0 run to lead briefly before the Panthers scored a late bucket to lead 36-35 after three quarters.
    After reclaiming the lead early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots stretched the margin to 49-42. But the Panthers answered with an 8-1 run. Hudson Welty’s 3-point basket capped the run and made it 50-50.
    “He was just open,” Panthers coach Rick Zych said. “Anthony Woods (South senior forward) did a good job of getting two guys to get (on) him, and he (Welty) just happened to knock (down) a shot. We were down seven, we fought all the way back, so you’ve got to give our kids a lot of credit.”
    And then, Titus drew a foul with 1.9 seconds left.
    “I was just trying to get to the basket as hard as I could and draw contact,” he said.
    Titus’ double-bonus foul shooting situation was the type of condition where Patriots coach Billy Guinnee has seen Titus repeatedly excel.
    “He’s a competitor,” Guinnee said. “I think he just wills the ball in if he has to.”
    Following Titus’ foul shots, the Panthers quickly pushed the ball up the floor and heaved a last-second half-court shot to try to win it. The ball sailed high, capping what Guinnee called his favorite tournament.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I’d like to play (in it) every week, if I could,” Guinnee said.
    And, no doubt, Guinnee would want Titus at the foul line if the championship were at stake.

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