TOPEKA — Patience usually has no place in an all-star game.
The Kansas Basketball Coaches Association boys all-star contest was much like the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The South ran out to a quick lead but seemingly expended much of its energy. The North, after biding its time early in the game, used a 22-0 run late in the first half to take the lead for good, then held off a late charge by the South in a 111-103 victory Thursday night at Lee Arena.
The South was on a pace to score 132 points when it led 33-22 after the game’s first 10 minutes, and still led 47-40 with less than four minutes to play in the opening half.
The North proceeded to score on its next 10 possessions while shutting out the South in that same stretch, getting three 3-pointers in that run to turn a seven-point deficit into a 15-point (62-47) lead.
“We just mixed up the pace of the game,” said Burrton guard Alex Santiago, who had 16 points for the North. “We started playing better defense after those first few minutes. We all had some early jitters but after those first four or five minutes we played our kind of game.”
“They started out in a full-court press and they seemed to get tired,” said Sacred Heart guard Mark Riordan. “Then their shots were falling short and ours started going in finally when we made the run toward the end of the first half.”
Up by 11 points at halftime, the North quickly stretched that to 18 (75-57) in the first four minutes of the second half. That included back-to-back buckets from Leavenworth’s Nino Williams, a Kansas State signee.
The lead was still 13 points when Salina Central’s Alex Williams made a baseline move and finished with a dunk to start the South’s comeback. Williams’ team scored on six consecutive possessions, and after 3-pointers from Sedgwick’s Bryce Douvier and Ottawa’s Kevin Barber, the South had pulled within two (89-87) with nine minutes remaining.
“We were talking in the locker room and we knew that if we would get after it, we could compete with these guys,” said Alex Williams. “We had to play as hard as we could and we made it a good ballgame.”
After the South had two shots with a chance to tie or take the lead, Riordan’s drive down the middle of the lane and basket started a 9-0 North run. That included four points from Williams and a three-point play from Santiago to make it 98-87.
“After they got on a run we called a timeout and decided we were giving them easy baskets,” Santiago said. “We had to fix what we were doing wrong, lock down and play some defense. When they got on their run we were playing their tempo.”
The South trailed 107-100 with 1:55 remaining and had only one point on its next six possessions. That stretch included four missed shots (including an uncontested dunk attempt) and a turnover.
Much like the end of the first half, the South may have run out of gas. After two players had to back out of playing this week, the South was left with only nine players on its roster. The fouls started to pile up in the first half, when Williams was one of three players on the South to pick up three personals before halftime.
“At the end of the first half we had three guys with three fouls,” Alex Williams said. “So for a while we were playing with only six guys when they got on their run.”
Nino Williams led the North with 20 points, with Gardner-Edgerton’s Connore Langrehr adding 19 and Olathe East’s Bryce Schippers adding 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Dodge City’s Terrence Williams had 22 points, Douvier had 20 and Fort Scott’s Gary Floyd had 18 for the South. Alex Williams scored all eight of his points in the second half.