RIVERSIDE, Mo. – Junior Max Black got increased playing time Friday night and he produced a career night.
The Truman forward, who at 6-foot-5 is one of the tallest players on the varsity roster, knocked on six 3-pointers to help the Patriots rally for a 68-59 Suburban Large Seven victory against Park Hill South.
It was the conference opener for both teams, which agreed to move the game up from Feb. 21 to avoid a 10-day layoff after playing in tournaments last week.
The key for the victory for the Patriots (3-1) was the combination of a big night from Kaimen Lennox, who had 27 points, and Black, who finished with 18 – all from beyond the arc.
Four of his six treys came in the fourth, including the game-tying and go-ahead bucket.
“It was pretty spectacular,” said Black, whose previous career high was 10 points. “I was just ready. I was ready and I got in there and did my thing."
Black credits work with his father and shooting coach Casey Dudek, a member of the Graceland University Hall of Fame, for helping him improve his shot.
“They help me lock in and focus and shoot no matter who is guarding you,” he said. “I don’t think they (Park Hill South) had me on the scouting report. No one was guarding me and when they were I was still making it. It felt amazing.”
Truman led after each of the first two quarters but trailed 45-42 going into the fourth against Park Hill South, a co-champion in the division last year.
Lennox hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim the Panthers lead to three going into the fourth and Black’s trey 22 second into the fourth tied the game.
Black’s second 3-pointer of the quarter broke a 47-all tie with 6 minutes, 11 seconds to play.
The Patriots never trailed again.
Macio Moananu had back-to-back steals and layups to push the lead to 57-51 with 4:10 to play.
That forced a timeout by Park Hill South, a Class 5 playoff qualifier last year.
“We had 16 turnovers tonight and I don’t think we had that many in three games in Republic (last week),” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said, whose squad only forced six turnovers.
The Panthers (3-1) pulled within four after the timeout but Black drained a 25-footer with 2:09 to play to push the advantage back to seven.
Park Hill South never got closer than five after that.
“We knew he was a pretty good shooter,” Truman coach Rod Briggs said of Black. “We had to give him some opportunities. A lot of the time you ask to prove it and he did. He got an opportunity and he proved it. Sam Billimon was out with a knee injury (suffered last Saturday in the Phog Allen Classic) so Max got to come off the bench and contribute. It is a good thing. When his feet are set, he is almost automatic.”
Lennox got a steal and a dunk with 10 seconds left to put the exclamation point on a rare victory over the Panthers. The win was the second in the last three meetings, but dating back to 2014, Park Hill South is 10-3 against Truman.