William Chrisman boys basketball head coach Jake Kates and his players were looking forward to a rematch with Raytown, after falling in a 69-66 thriller in the championship game of the Summit Grill Classic last Friday.
The emotion for the Bears showed on the court as players threw fist pumps and raised their arms after the team made big shots in another thriller at home Tuesday. However, like the last game, Chrisman couldn’t hang on to a late lead.
The Bears led by as many as five late in the fourth quarter, but Raytown found a way to come back. Cortez Howlett made a buzzer-beating, coast-to-coast layup to upend Chrisman 67-65 in Suburban Middle Seven action.
Holding late leads has been an Achilles’ heel for the Bears (12-5, 3-2 Middle Seven) as they have lost four games by three points or less. They didn’t help their case from the free throw line either as they shot 10 of 17 (59 percent).
“We came out with a lot more energy this time, but we just didn’t get it done on the defensive end,” Chrisman junior Marcus Wigfall said. “We just have to learn to play with the lead. We were up by five in the last minute, and that’s our problem right now. We have to learn to play with the lead and take care of the basketball.”
Chrisman led by five in the fourth quarter in Friday’s game, as well, but couldn’t hang on for win. Tuesday’s game followed a similar script except Chrisman led by three with less than 40 seconds left.
Guard Isaiah Jackson hit a pair of free throws to push the Bears’ lead to 65-62 with less than 40 seconds left. Raytown senior Aubrey Martin missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but got his own rebound and fired a pass to Desmond Hutson. Hutson, who hit a couple of big threes in the third period and finished with a game-high 20 points, nailed his biggest shot of the game from the right wing to tie it at 65.
Chrisman junior Alex Calhoun missed a driving layup on the next possession and senior Jalen Moore came up with the rebound. However, he fell to the floor, and was called for traveling, giving Raytown the ball with 5.7 seconds left.
That’s when Howlett went coast to coast for an open layup without a Chrisman defender stopping his progress or contesting the shot.
“He went coast to coast and no one stepped up to help,” Wigfall said. “I got beat deep, and just no one was there to help.”
The play Raytown coach Cody Buford drew up worked to perfection.
“He had three options,” he said of Howlett. “We had a kid coming off a flare screen, Desmond Hutson was flashing to the top of the key and we had a kid in the opposite corner. So we really had four options. I told him if he was wide open to keep attacking the rim.
“We were trying to get something going to the rim. And it just parted like the Red Sea and he made a great decision in a tough, fast environment.”
Unlike the last meeting, Chrisman got off to a fast start as a pair of threes from Tony Hilton and a pair of Jackson driving layups helped the Bears take an 18-15 lead.
Raytown bounced back in the second quarter to take a 30-24 halftime lead. It took Chrisman nearly five minutes to score in the frame as Wigfall connected on a driving layup with 3:03 left.
The Blue Jays led by as many as nine in the third, but the Bears came storming back with a 10-0 spurt, spearheaded by eight points from Herl and capped by his 3-pointer to make it 34-33, Chrisman. Each time the Bears tried to keep the lead, Hutson hit two threes to tie it on two occasions. A late layup from Ben Bryant gave Raytown a 46-44 lead going into the final period.
A conventional 3-point play from Calhoun gave the Bears a 50-46 lead with 5:29 left in the fourth. The Blue Jays later took a 53-52 lead on Martin’s three. Calhoun countered with a three of his own and later notched another old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Bears ahead 60-55. After Raytown cut it to 60-58, Chrisman came back with a three throw from Herl and a fast-break layup from Hilton to push the lead back to 63-58. The Blue Jays outscored Chrisman 9-2 from there to earn the thrilling victory.
Herl led Chrisman with 16 points and Calhoun and Kelvyn Mason added 12 points each.