Williams' show not enough to lift Patriots

By Bill Althaus
Truman's Najee Williams throws down a dunk in a Phog Allen Invitational semifinal against Raytown Wednesday at William Chrisman High School. Williams scored 19 points and had a pair of thunderous dunks but the Patriots fell 62-48 to the Blue Jays.

Bookend dunks by Najee Williams – including a spectacular alley-oop effort to start the game and a rim-shaking jam late in the fourth quarter – were not enough.

Despite his 19 points and high-flying antics, his Truman High School basketball team failed to reach the championship game of the third annual Phog Allen Invitational Wednesday at William Chrisman High School.

Raytown’s Aaron Franklin, a monster in the paint, finished with a game-high 27 points and swingman Terrance Jones added 14 as the Blue Jays claimed a 62-48 semifinal win that places them in Friday night’s title game.

“Najee played a very good game tonight,” Truman coach Rod Briggs said of the transfer from Blue Springs. “He doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience, but he has so much natural ability, we’re expecting quite a bit from him this season and he certainly did a nice job tonight.”

Truman's DeAnjalo Holman (22) glides past Raytown defender Aaron Franklin, left, for a shot in Wednesday's Phog Allen Invitational semifinal at William Chrisman High School. Raytown went on to a 62-48 win.

Williams said his performance would have meant more in a win.

“I’m really excited about this season, but I would be more excited if we would have won tonight,” he said. “We have so much talent, and we started the game off well, but I thought we just weren’t ready mentally to play four quarters of basketball tonight.

“We’re young, but that’s no excuse. When we went out and played the way Coach Briggs taught us to play, we were effective. But when we got away from that, we didn’t do very well.”

Truman forward Max Black, left, tries to drive past Raytown defender Jason Parson in their Phog Allen Invitational semifinal Wednesday night at William Chrisman High School. Truman fell 62-48.

He paused for a moment and added, “And Raytown is good, especially No. 25 (Franklin).”

Briggs agreed with his senior forward’s assessment after his team dropped to 1-1 and into the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Chrisman.

“Coach (Cody) Buford does such a great job with all his teams,” Briggs said. “He lost a lot of talent off last year’s team, but he has his guys ready to play. When you have a very good coach and talent, you better be ready to play – and we were ready at the start but just didn’t play four good quarters tonight.

“But that’s why you like to start off in a tournament, where you can put different players in your lineup and see what type of chemistry works.”

Truman's Najee Williams (0) and Raytown's Cedrick Owens battle for a loose ball at mid-court in Wednesday's Phog Allen Invitational at William Chrisman High School. Raytown claimed a 62-48 win and a spot in Friday's championship game.

The Blue Jays used balanced scoring to take an 18-9 first-quarter lead and they padded that lead to 34-24 by halftime.

“We did a nice job tonight,” said Buford, a former star player at Raytown South and assistant coach at Oak Grove High School, “but we have a lot of things to work on.

“Aaron is a great kid – such a great kid off the court. I wish he was a little bit more aggressive on the court, but we’ll toughen him up as the season goes on.”

Truman made a run at the Blue Jays in the third quarter, trailing 44-34 at the 1:12 mark on a 3-pointer by Runey Hernandez. But Raytown went on a 10-0 run to take control.

“That was good for the guys, having Truman make that run at us,” Buford said. “I was really happy about the way they responded, especially this early in the season.”

Hernandez finished with 14 points on the strength of four 3-point baskets.

Truman senior Najee Williams (0) puts up a one-handed shot against Raytown defender Terrence Jones in their Phog Allen Invitational semifinal Wednesday night at William Chrisman High School. Despite 19 points from Williams, the Patriots lost 62-48.