William Chrisman coach Jake Kates started the process of turning the boys basketball program around last season when his team went 11-16.
That record may not seem spectacular, but Kates’ team got 11 wins in his first year after the Bears won 10 games combined in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
The 2018 campaign seems even more promising, especially after Chrisman improved to 3-0 Friday following a 70-50 win over Kansas City Southeast in the semifinals of the Phog Allen Invitational at William Chrisman High School.
Chrisman will play in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Lee’s Summit North, which defeated Truman 81-66 in the other semifinal.
“Obviously we are happy with being 3-0, but more importantly, we are happy with the way we are playing,” Kates said. “We were unselfish with the ball and we moved it around. I am really, really excited about this team.”
The Bears began the game on a 13-2 run and they were off to the races. Southeast made a run of their own in the first quarter, cutting it 17-10 going into the second. Senior Dawson Herl paced the Bears in the first eight minutes with nine points, including three treys. Chrisman outscored the Knights 19-14 in the second period to grab a 36-24 halftime lead.
Junior Alex Calhoun hit a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 run midway through the third to put Chrisman ahead 46-29. Chrisman just kept running away with it from there. Herl was fouled as he sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Bears up 55-33.
“We knew we could do this,” Herl said of the team’s 3-0 start. “We’ve been playing together since eighth grade. We have really good chemistry.”
Southeast never got any closer than 16 points in the fourth period. Kates credited his team’s success to offensive rebound and balanced scoring.
‘We rebounded well today,” Kates said. “We had a lot of point off offensive rebounds. Dawson, Jalen (Moore) and even my guards rebounded a lot.
“We are also pretty deep. I think (Southeast only used six guys tonight and I think they got tired.”
The Bears had four players in double figures led by junior Zachariah Rowe with 16 points. Herl added 14, Calhoun had 11 and junior point guard Isaiah Jackson had 10.
“Zachariah was a difference maker tonight,” Kates said. “He changed the game when he came in.”
The confidence for the Bears is increasing. Rowe said he feels his team came compete with anyone.
“We’re really confident. We’re ready for whoever.” Rowe said. “We told coach that at the beginning of the year. We fear nobody.”
LEE’S SUMMIT NORTH 81, TRUMAN 66: Whether it was a shot from 5 feet behind the 3-point line, a driving layup against two defenders or a contested 3-pointer, no shot seemed too difficult for Lee’s Summit North senior point guard Javaunte Hawkins.
And it showed in the semifinals of the Phog Allen Invitational when he broke his own school record with 44 points, including seven 3-pointers, in a win over the Patriots Friday.
“I just wanted to be aggressive from the start after having a great win with my teammates yesterday,” Hawkins said. “I knew tonight was going to be a tougher game, so I knew I needed to be aggressive. I was just focused. I took care of my body from the game yesterday. I just felt good from the tip.”
The senior drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing with Truman junior Macio Moananu guarding him tightly to give his team an early 10-4 lead in the first period. That was one of a trio of threes that helped North take a 20-19 first-quarter lead.
“He’s a special player,” North coach Mike Hilbert said. “The first couple of nights he didn’t shoot it that well. It was really good to see the ball go through the net for him. It was a really outstanding shooting performance on his part. It helps any team to have a kid who can score like that.”
The Broncos (2-1) began the second quarter on a 8-0 run capped by Devon Richardson’s layup to extend the lead to 28-19. Hawkins drove to the basket more in the period as he had four driving layups. But of course he still had his 3-point shot going when he buried another three with Truman junior Kaimen Lennox getting a hand in his face to make it 37-25. North went into halftime ahead 48-32.
“I know when I get to the basket … when I score on all three levels, it makes the game a little bit easier,” Hawkins said. “When I get to the free throw line, I can give my body a little bit of a rest. Then when I attack the basket, I can get my threes going, too.”
After a shaky first half, the Patriots (1-1) went on a 13-1 spurt to begin the third, which was spearheaded by driving layup and trey from junior Jeilel Phillips, who had 16 total points. Lennox, who had a team-high 28 points, capped that run with a fast-break, two-handed slam of a steal and outlet pass from senior Don Edmondson. That spurt helped Truman get back in it as it went into the fourth only down 64-58 after getting 11 points from Lennox.
“We did a great job battling back in the third quarter,” Truman coach Rod Briggs said. “We lost a little momentum on a flagrant foul, I guess (which came tight after Truman cut North’s to 49-45). We just couldn’t get back into it totally. We then ran out of gas at the end.
“We’re relying on Kaimen quite a bit right now. He’s doing a lot of good things. I’ve been telling people he’s got a really good shot to be a great player and a college-level player. He just keeps improving.”
North began to pull away thanks to Hawkins midway through the fourth. He shook a defender with a crossover and knocked down a three from the left wing to give his team a 71-61 advantage. From there North outscored Truman 10-5 with Richardson helping put the game away with a putback layup late.
Senior swingman Elijah Smith had 10 points and senior guard Mikel Henderson added eight for the Broncos.
“I feel like we have the best guards in the state,” Henderson said. “We have more than a couple of players who can make players.”