The Shawnee Mission South Raiders led at the end of every quarter except at the end of the one which meant the most, as the Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles came back to beat them 67-56.
The win means the Eagles will play in the Championship Game of the 2019 Tournament of Champions, scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Raiders will play for third in a game scheduled for 3 p.m. that same day.
Friday’s game between the Raiders and Golden Eagles was the sixth game of the Tournament, but it was probably the best up to that point.
“I think so too,” Golden Eagles head coach Mike Domnick said. “Two teams going at it hard, fighting for rebounds, fighting for loose balls. Fouls were off-and-on: We had a lot of fouls early on, then they started having a lot of fouls at the end. It was a tough game to officiate, so I feel for those officials, because we’re so aggressive both teams. So yeah, if you’re a casual basketball fan you would have loved that game.”
Back and forth the two teams went throughout the game. The Raiders led 10-6 at the end of the first, 28-22 at halftime and 41-39 at the end of the third, but the Eagles outscored the Raiders 28-15 in the fourth.
The comeback style is nothing new for the defending 5A State Champions team, he said.
“We’ve done that almost every game for the last 25, 30 (games),” Domnick said. “That was our stretch-run during last year going up to win State. We’re behind (in) games and then all of the sudden we just kind of made the plays we had to make and certain players have certain skill sets.”
He pointed to junior Luke Larkin, who was 1 of 1 from the field, but who had two key steals late in the game, but who is a reserve off the bench.
“He is just a phenomenal defender, and he helped us win State last year with some of the biggest plays of the (State) tournament,” Domnick said.
Every body stepped up Friday, Domnick said, shooting well and hitting free throws. The Eagles shot 19 of 24 (good for an impressive 79.2 percent) from the free-throw line Friday.
“We’ve played well now for two games, so I’m very proud of ‘em,” Domnick said. “We’ve had two tough opponents, so we’re enjoying the moment. We know how basketball is a yin-and-yang kind of thing, so we’re enjoying this and hopefully we can continue on tomorrow and win a Championship for the first time in a long time for (Bishop) Carroll.”
After a tough game against the Newton Railers late Thursday night, the Golden Eagles put up a resilient performance Friday to advance. The two wins, and what experience the team returned this season from the last one, give Domnick a lot of confidence, he said.
“We have all the players back but two, we have one injury and one that graduated,” Domnick said. “So all these kids went through it last year, and we’re now just kind of getting to the point where we’re really figuring each other out again, because every team every year is a different chemistry, and our chemistry is starting to get where I like it and we’re doing some good things on both ends. So I like it. I wouldn’t bet against us, I’m telling you that.”
For the Raiders, senior Skyler Rhoads had a game-high 16 points, senior Kennedy Rater had 13 and senior Sam Caldwell had 10.
For the Golden Eagles, senior Carsen Pracht had a team-high 13, junior Tanner Mans and sophomore Enrique Lankford had 11 and sophomore Alex Littlejohn had 10.
Neither team took control in any dominant fashion most of the game. Shawnee Mission South led by as many as 8 in the first quarter, but Bishop Carroll narrowed the deficit to 10-6 by the end of it. In the second, both teams continued to have moments when they had the advantage.
The Raiders outscored the Golden Eagles 18-16 in the second quarter and took a 28-22 lead into halftime, but in the late third quarter, the Golden Eagles hit a 3-pointer with about 3:10 left that cut the deficit to just 3 points at 35-32. The Golden Eagles then took a timeout.
The Eagles outscored the the Raiders 17-13 in the third quarter, nearly taking the lead on a quarter-ending buzzer-beater, but the shot didn’t fall, and the two teams entered the fourth with the the Raiders leading 41-39.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles started to take control, building a lead to 59-51 with under two minutes, but the Raiders hit a 3 with 59-54 and the Eagles took a timeout with 1:39 left in the quarter. The Eagles outscored the Raiders 28-15 in the fourth to advance to the Tournament of Champions Championship game.