Shawnee Mission East settled a couple of scores Friday night in the semifinals of the 50th annual McPherson Invitational.
With a hard-fought 53-50 victory over Derby, the Lancers avenged a loss to the Panthers in last year’s Class 6A State Tournament third-place game.
Not to mention a few of the Lancers were on the football team this fall that lost to the Panthers in the Class 6A state championship game.
And the Lancers can settle yet another score, as they were second in the Invitational last year, though they won’t be playing McPherson on Saturday.
“Huge win. We lost to Derby in the third-place game last year in a tough, hard-fought game after some tough semifinal losses,” SM East coach Shawn Hair said. “We played them in the state championship football game and we’ve got three or four kids that played in that game. It was a big win for our basketball program and our community as well.”
Derby, just as it did in its opening-round game against Blue Valley West, straggled out of the gate, falling behind 14-4 after a quarter. But once again it showed great fortitude, chipping away before finally getting it tied at 42-all going into the fourth quarter.
The final period, though, belonged to SM East guard Collin Burns, who made three 3-pointers and scored all 11 of the Lancers’ points. His trey with 2 minutes left gave East the lead for good and they weathered a couple of missed 3-pointers at the end to advance.
“Burns hit some big shots and LJ (Lucas Jones) was beast on the boards — grabbed 19 rebounds for us,” Hair said.
Jones had 12 rebounds in the first quarter alone and 14 in the first half. Burns led the Lancers with 20 points.
Derby was led by Jeremy Dunham, who scored 16 points. The Panthers, who used the 3-ball so effectively on Thursday, were just 2 of 14 as the Lancers made a concerted effort to keep the Panthers from getting on a roll.
In last year’s Invitational final, Hair’s team entered the game undefeated but was outlasted by the host Bullpups, who won’t be their opponent at 7:30 Saturday.
“I think more than anything is to be bluntly honest, but when Mac gets beat in the first round and you win in the first round, I think all four (semifinal) teams all of a sudden think, hey, we’ve got a chance,” Hair said.