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Patriots dominate Bruins with 'best game'

By Bill Althaus
Truman senior Najee Williams, left, drives to the hoop against Columbia Rock Bridge defenders Kanyon Hummel (44) and Hudson Dercher (1) in the 810 Varsity Showcase Saturday at Lee's Summit High School. Williams poured in 30 points to lead the Patriots to a 68-50 rout of the Bruins.

No one had a bigger smile on his face as he emerged from the Truman locker room Saturday than forward Najee Williams.

His teammates were still congratulating him for his game-ending dunk and 30-point performance that led to a surprisingly easy 68-50 victory over a 5-1 Columbia Rock Bridge team in the 810 Varsity Showcase at Lee’s Summit High School.

“That dunk was for the guys on the team,” said Williams, who had three 3-pointers, eight rebounds and a handful of steals and assists. “I love my teammates and even though I had a good game, they had a good game too.”

Patriots coach Rod Briggs agreed.

“In my five years at Truman that is the best game we have played,” Briggs said after his team improved to 8-2. “We came out strong, got some early momentum and we were able to keep it the entire game.”

Truman's Runey Hernandez drives the baseline in Saturday's game against Columbia Rock Bridge in the 810 Varsity Showcase at Lee's Summit High School. The Patriots went on to a 68-50 win.

When one player scores 30 points, he is usually the key to a big win like the Patriots enjoyed against Rock Bridge. But Briggs called it a team win.

“It was a team win because all our guys did what they do best,” Briggs said. “Najee is such a dynamic player, and you can get caught up in watching him play with such great talent. 

“But Max (Black) hit some big threes and did a great job rebounding, Quincy (Scott) took care of business defensively at both ends of the court, and this was definitely Maddux Bristow’s best game of the season (13 points with three 3-pointers). If he can contribute like that the rest of the season and we get Runey (Hernandez, five points) going offensively, we could have a lot of success the rest of the season.”

Williams scored nine points in the first quarter, seven in the second, 10 in the third and four in the fourth, including the gym-rattling dunk for his final points.

“They took all my dunk opportunities away from me most of the game,” Williams said, “so when I got the ball at the end, I had to end it with a dunk. That fires up all the guys on the team.”

Truman senior forward Najee Williams (0) shoots a jump shot in Saturday's game against Columbia Rock Bridge in the 810 Varsity Showcase at Lee's Summit High School. Williams fired in 30 points to lead the Patriots to a 68-50 win over the Bruins.

The Bruins (5-2) were able to hang with the Patriots for one quarter, trailing 17-11, but Truman used a 21-6 second-quarter surge to lead 38-17 at halftime.

“That No. 0 (Williams) is a big-time player for Truman,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “We’re playing a bunch of young guys, sophomores and underclassmen, and he comes out and looks like a college player.

“Truman is a very good team, and he’s one of the best players we’ve seen this year.”

Reliable Rock Bridge senior guard Xavier Sykes had 11 points at the half and finished with 17, but got little support from his teammates.

“Sykes had the good first half, and we’re down 21 points,” Scanlon said. “He needs some help out there. This was just a case of Truman playing really well and No. 0 taking the game over, and our offense never really showing up. It’s a game we can learn from, and we will.”

The Patriots used a 24-point third quarter to put the game out of reach.