Ray-Pec slips in bronze match at home tourney

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Raymore-Peculiar High School played host to the Sonic Drive-In Holiday Shootout last week, giving their own boys basketball team the three-seed in the eight-team bracket. The Panthers were slated to play Ruskin High School in the first round.

Overall, the seeding for the tournament played out quite accurately as all of the teams placed within one spot of their seed, with the exception of Ruskin and Barstow. Ruskin, who was seeded sixth, finished in eighth place after they lost all three games they played in the tournament. Barstow surprised most spectators, defeating Olathe East in the opening game and taking third from Raymore-Peculiar on the last day.

Ray-Pec 55, Ruskin 33

The Ray-Pec Panthers did not face much of a challenge in the first round of their home tournament last week.

Finding a seam | Sophomore guard Nathan Janssen (32, with ball) finds a hole in Ruskin’s defense Tuesday night in Peculiar.

Finding a seam | Sophomore guard Nathan Janssen (32, with ball) finds a hole in Ruskin’s defense Tuesday night in Peculiar.

Ruskin High School (0-5) has not had a winning season over the last two years, finishing their 2012 and 2013 campaigns at .500. This year, their team is not unlike Ray-Pec in that younger, inexperienced players have been called upon to lead the team.

However similar the two teams actually are, Tuesday night played in favor of the Panthers, as the home team played well enough to seal a victory by more than twenty points.

“I felt like we played really, really well in the second half,” said head coach Scott Jermain.

Ruskin kept themselves in the game throughout the first half, but in the third quarter, Ray-Pec jumped out to a ten-point lead, surging ahead of the Eagles. A Mario Holman free throw put the Panthers up 29-18 with just under four minutes to play in the quarter.

The lead stayed consistent for Raymore-Peculiar until the end of the game when great free throw shooting added to the space between them and their opponent. Several different players were able to see playing time as the second half expired and the Panthers walked away with a 55-33 team victory.

Olathe South 46, Ray-Pec 39

In the second round of the Sonic Shootout, the Panthers dropped a game that was theirs for the taking.

“Turnovers got the best of us,” Coach Jermain said after the game.

The first quarter started off very slow, with neither team able to get into an offensive groove. Jermain substituted five players at a time at several points, but none of the squads could finish at the basket.

After the initial eight minutes ticked away, the score was locked at six apiece. The second quarter would not be better.

No one for the Panthers seemed able to hang onto the ball before halftime as many of their possessions ended without a shot attempt. With five minutes left before the break, Ray-Pec still had not scored in the quarter.

A huge break for Ray-Pec was that Olathe South, who is a respectable team (as evidenced by their high seed), was playing nearly as badly as they were. As the first half ended the teams went into the locker rooms with the score mirroring a junior high battle, the Falcons leading 13-9.

In the third quarter the two teams scored more combined points than they did in all of the first half. With far fewer turnovers, solid free throw shooting from junior Ben Harris, and a big last-second three-pointer by Mario Holman, the Panthers led going into the fourth 24-23.

Coming up just short | Olathe South outplayed the Panthers, though not by much, as pictured here when one of the Falcons was able to beat out Mario Holman (20) and James Sappington (4) for a rebound.

Coming up just short | Olathe South outplayed the Panthers, though not by much, as pictured here when one of the Falcons was able to beat out Mario Holman (20) and James Sappington (4) for a rebound.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Olathe South drilled a three to go ahead 31-29. Subsequently, Jason Wilson drilled a three of his own, regaining a 32-31 lead for Ray-Pec. The Falcons would hit yet another three-pointer on their very next drive taking the lead back.

Minutes later, sophomore James Sappington tied the game and then took the lead for his team. Two consecutive layups by Sappington pushed Raymore-Peculiar ahead of Olathe South 36-34.

As the game wound down, however, turnovers emerged once again and poor free throw shooting knocked the Panthers out of the game. The Falcons, winning the match 46-39, would go on to the championship game where they lost to Lee’s Summit West 58-53.

Barstow 69, Ray-Pec 61

Saturday games aren’t typical for high school basketball. However, Friday’s inclement weather pushed the final tournament games to the weekend last week.

Ray-Pec jumped out to an early lead in the third place matchup against Barstow, but two straight three-point field goals by the Knights built a lead that the Panthers could never take back.

Halfway through the third quarter, Ray-Pec cut a twelve-point lead down to four, but Barstow would hit another three right before the end-of-quarter buzzer.

“That was a big, big momentum swing,” said Coach Jermain.

“We just gave up too many points,” the coach continued.

After all was said and done, the Panthers lost by a margin of eight points and earned fourth place in their home tournament.

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