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Black out: Senior overcomes injury, sets record to spark Patriots

By Michael Smith
The Examiner
Truman senior forward Max Black (4) looks for an open teammate under pressure from William Chrisman's Anthony Watkins Friday at Truman. Black broke a season school record with his 58th 3-pointer. He sustained an injury in the third quarter but returned late to help the Patriots stave off the Bears' late charge for a 68-61 win.

Truman senior forward Max Black’s Friday was a roller-coaster ride.

He started his boys basketball contest against crosstown rival William Chrisman off with a bang as he sank a 3-pointer from the left wing to give his team a 14-5 lead.

Not only did that shot give his team an early advantage, it broke a school record.

It was Black’s 58th 3-pointer of the season, snapping the school mark for threes in a season that was set by current Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones in 1995. The senior helped the Patriots take a commanding 37-15 lead into halftime, but trouble struck early in the third period.

Black injured his right shoulder and missed most of the second half. Truman missed his interior defense, shooting and rebounding as Chrisman made a furious comeback, cutting the deficit to four on multiple occasions in the fourth.

However, once Black saw his team’s lead slipping away, he entered with 49.8 seconds left despite having a bum shoulder. He helped his team stave off the comeback, making 4 out of 6 free throws and getting three rebounds down the stretch in Truman’s 68-61 Suburban Middle Six home victory that completed a season sweep of the Bears.

“I came out (of the locker room) and saw we were only up by 10,” said Black, who finished with 16 points. “Then they came down and made two shots in a row and made it a five-point game. That’s when it clicked in my head that if I didn’t go back in, we might lose this game.

William Chrisman's Dayne Herl (23) tries to get a hand on a shot by Truman's Quincy Scott in Friday's game at Truman. The host Patriots held off the Bears' late rally for a 68-61 win.

“I just had to tough it out. My shoulder was pretty numb the entire time. I couldn’t feel anything. I was just getting lucky because I couldn’t feel my hand. It was hard.”

The Patriots (16-4, 5-1 Middle Six) appeared they were going to run away with it when Black scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half. Both of his 3-pointers came in the first 16 minutes.

“I am shooting close to 40 pecent this year,” Black said of his 3-point percentage. “It’s very important to me because I have worked my whole life to be a great shooter. Breaking that record is crazy because that is going to stand at Truman for a long time.

“It’s cool to get my name on something. I got to give a shout out to my teammates because they get me the ball in the right spot and let me shoot. They’ve got confidence in me.”

Truman's Najee Williams (0) flies in for a dunk in Friday's game against rival William Chrisman. Williams scored 25 points to help the Patriots stave off Chrisman's late charge for a 68-61 victory.

So does senior teammate Najee Williams, who led Truman with a game-high 25 points.

“I was excited for him,” Williams said. “He’s always there when I need him – always.”

Truman coach Rod Briggs said Black is there when he needs him to make plays, too.

“Max is a great shooter,” Briggs said. “To have a 6-foot-5 guy who can shoot really makes your offense go. It spreads the floor and makes it easier for everyone else.”

In the second half, not only were the Patriots without Black for most of it, but 6-foot-6 forward Runey Hernandez was in foul trouble. That left Williams on the floor as the only Patriot who can consistently create his own shot for much of the second half.

“It was a little tough on me because everyone was doubling me,” Williams said. “All the attention was on me. I was trying to do the best I could to keep the lead up.”

Truman led by as many as 26 in the third period when Williams hit a three to put his team up 49-23.

Truman senior forward Max Black (4) goes up for a shot under pressure from William Chrisman's Dayne Herl (23) Friday at Truman. Black broke a season school record with his 58th 3-pointer and scored 16 points to help the Patriots to a  68-61 win.

Chrisman ended the period on a 9-0 run, all fueled by a trio of 3-pointers from junior guard Cameron Dickerson, who had a team-high 21 points. He banked his last one in from the right wing to slice the Patriots lead to 49-32 going into the final period.

The Bears (7-14, 3-3) turned up the defensive intensity in the fourth as they helped force seven Truman turnovers. Williams hit a pair of free throws to put Truman up 61-39.

Chrisman, though, reeled off a 16-0 run, highlighted by the duo of senior Anthony Watkins and junior Dayne Herl, who combined for 12 points during that stretch.

Senior guard Jalen White capped the run with a tough driving layup to make it 61-55 with less than 2 minutes left. Williams hit a free throw to make it 62-55, but Herl answered with a conventional three-point play to narrow the gap to 62-58.

That’s when Black took over by making key free throws and grabbing critical rebounds to help seal it. Chrisman’s final points came on a three from Watkins. Griffen Hernandez also hit a pair of free throws for Truman with 12 seconds left.

“I probably sat Runey too long,” Briggs said. “We started turning the ball over left and right, but you have to give Chrisman credit. They made shots and they played really hard. We should have been shooting free throws for the last three minutes of the game. Instead, we were turning the ball over.

“It definitely hurts the team when we don’t have our full complement of players.”

Herl finished with 18 points for Chrisman and Watkins had 16.

Truman's Najee Williams (0) splits William Chrisman defenders Anthony Watkins (12) and Alex Atagi in Friday's game at Truman. Williams scored 25 points to help the Patriots stave off Chrisman's late charge for a 68-61 victory.