SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Lee’s Summit North boys basketball team saw something it hadn’t seen all season.
A new defensive set.
That’s what Columbia Rock Bridge showed the Broncos in the Show Me Showdown Class 5 state semifinals Friday at John Q. Hammons Arena on the campus of Missouri State University.
The Bruins used a triangle-and-two defense and flustered the North offense as the Broncos shot just 27.8 percent from the field in a 72-59 loss.
“We played our hearts out, but Rock Bridge played well,” North coach Mike Hilbert said. “I told (Rock Bridge) Coach (Jim) Scanlon, for the first time – and I was looking for it most of the season – he went triangle-and-two on us. That was the first time we saw that all season.
“They put three guys in a zone in a triangle and they match up two guys – one on Javaunte (Hawkins) and one on Mikel (Henderson). It’s a hybrid combination man-zone. For the life of me, I don’t know why other teams haven’t tried it against us.”
North (26-4) will face Francis Howell (28-3), which fell to Christian Brothers College 64-62 in the other semifinal, in the third-place game at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Rock Bridge (24-3) took away one of the things the Broncos do best – the dribble drive. North had trouble getting to the basket, as only 12 of its 59 points were scored in the paint.
Scanlon said his team focused on shutting down the backcourt duo of Hawkins (25.8 points per game) and Henderson (14.9 ppg), and the Bruins were effective in limiting them. Hawkins scored 20 points, but shot just 7 of 23 (30.4 percent) from the field, including 4 of 18 from the 3-point line. Henderson added 17 points, but shot just 3 of 14 from the floor (21.4 percent).
“You just have to guard their two guards. No. 2 (Henderson) and No. 3 (Hawkins) are good players,” Scanlon said. “I think we put so much emphasis on those guys, we lost track of some of the other guys. I didn’t realize what the (Broncos’ shooting) percentage was, but that’s pretty good.
“We could have done better. We had breakdowns at crucial times.”
On the defensive end, the Broncos couldn’t stop Division I recruit Isiaih Mosley, who has received offers from programs like Missouri, Mississippi State and SMU. The versatile forward scored in a variety of ways – off putbacks, 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers, in the post and a pair of dunks, including one on the fast break and one on an alley-oop.
Mosley torched the Broncos with 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting and pulled down 15 rebounds. Any time the Broncos made a run, Mosley knocked down a big shot.
“They got the ball to him at the free throw line at key points in the game,” Hilbert said of Mosley. “It looked like he was playing Pop-A-Shot out there. He turned around and calmly knocked down shots.”
The Broncos traded the lead with Rock Bridge five times in the first period. North later extended the lead when Elijah Smith, who had double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds (12 offensive), made a basket inside to make it 13-9. Rock Bridge answered with a 5-0 run, capped by Mosley’s 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 14-13 going into the second.
The Bruins extended that lead to 29-21 at halftime after getting nine second-quarter points from Missouri State commit Ja’Monta Black, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and five assists.
The Broncos pulled within 38-34 with 2:56 left in the third period when Smith made a putback layup. The Bruins, however, went on a 6-2 spurt to close the quarter to make it 44-36 going into the final quarter.
North slowly chipped away at the lead in the fourth period, and a steal and transition layup by Hawkins with 4:05 left made it a one-possession game (54-51) for the first time since early in the second quarter. But the Bruins delivered the backbreaker, a 15-5 spurt sparked by a pair of mid-range jumpers from Mosley.
“When we cut it to three, they came right back at us,” Hilbert said. “I think there were a couple turnovers during that stretch. There was also a key drive there that could have allowed us to get to the free throw line, but they didn’t call it. Then they scored two points going the other direction.”
Added Hawkins: “That was the best team we played all year, easily.”