Things looked promising for the William Chrisman boys basketball team after Tuesday’s double-overtime win against North Kansas City.
The Bears won that semifinal game and looked to carry that momentum into the Class 5 District 15 championship game against Liberty. However, the Bears normally solid outside shooting and ability to get out on the fast break weren’t there against the Blue Jays as they fell 71-49 Friday at Liberty High School.
Chrisman trailed 19-12 after the first quarter and went into halftime down 34-24. It struggled shooting the ball and gave up a handful of second-chance point opportunities to Liberty.
In the third quarter, things started to unravel for the Bears as two technical fouls got Chrisman head coach Jake Kates ejected from the game.
Senior guard Isaiah Jackson was then whistled for a third technical when he dunked a ball after he kicked the ball on defense and the play was blown dead.
That helped the Blue Jays go on a 14-4 run to make it 52-37 going into the fourth quarter.
"We went on a 6-0 run then the momentum went away after the questionable technical foul," Chrisman assistant coach Jacob Derritt said. "In those moments, you just have to tell the kids to be better and not delay the game."
During that stretch, Chrisman (17-10) shot just 2 of 10 from the field, while Liberty made 5 of 6 free throws and got a driving layup and a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Luke Stubbs. The Blue Jays then ran away from the Bears in the fourth, outscoring them 19-8.
"We played defense the way we wanted to on the first couple of possessions and we got the shots we wanted from them." Derritt said. "But then they found a way to push us up under the goal and they would tip it back into their hands and score. That neutralized us to push the rock a little bit.
"We were able to full-court press them and get some turnovers early, we couldn’t really capitalize on those turnovers when we needed to."
Liberty’s balanced scoring helped it pull away as senior forward Grant Stubbs led the way with 23 points, Javion Byers added 11, Luke Stubbs chipped in with 10 and Ruben Mendoza and Bennett Stirtz each had nine.
"Our struggles started with not getting back on defense," said Jackson, who led the Bears with 23 points in his final high school game. "We were shooting and missing a lot. We were pressing in the second half and it was working. If we would have done that in the first half, it could have changed the whole game."
No other Chrisman player reached double figures. Senior guard Zachariah Rowe finished with eight points.
The Bears say goodbye to eight seniors, four of whom were a key part of the team’s state quarterfinal run last year, the furthest the program had made it in the state playoffs in 40 years.
"I’ve been playing with these guys since fourth grade and it was great being with them for one last ride," said Jackson, who has signed with NCAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State. "It was a special season. Hopefully we still stay close after we are done with high school."
Rowe said the Chrisman senior class defied the odds.
"Everyone bet against us since we were little," Rowe said. "Because we were going against it. All we did was work hard. Especially being small, we were looked at as underdogs. That’s how we became the men we are today."