If there was any need for a signature win for Shawn Hair to rally his team around, then he found it after East’s monumental victory over Olathe North, 64-61. The win came against stiff competition, that featured a 10-4 Eagles squad that carried one of the Sunflower League’s most dominant players, in future Oral Roberts commit, small forward R.J. Smith.
For a team that is comprised majority of seniors. Head coach Shawn Hair was proud of how his team fought hard to earn the win over a quality opponent.
“I’m glad we took home the win. Our guys worked harder than they did. We were more aggressive.” Hair said.
By the way Hair described, it sure appeared that way. The Lancers outperformed Olathe North throughout all “50-50” situations. As they won the rebounding battle, 28-22. In addition, were able to handle the ball admirably in the backcourt when faced with Olathe North’s deep press.
“Our goal was to get layups on the backside.” Shawn Hair said in response to the goal in beating the Eagles’ pressure defense.
Point guard Alex Glazer’s reliable ball handling was a big reason for that, as he helped the Lancers decipher the press with ease. Glazer wasn’t featured much as a scorer in the offense, as he was East’s only starter that didn’t register a point. However, he worked perfectly in Hair’s game plan to develop better ball movement. Glazer forced the action often against Olathe North’s half-court 2-3 zone, by feeding forwards Henry Sullivan and Jay Guastello. In total, the combo of Sullivan and Guastello were perfect from the foul line–going 10/10–also contributed 21 points all together. Outside of minor mistakes by forward Henry Sullivan when approaching half-court, East committed just one turnover in the backcourt.
In an attempt to shut down R.J. Smith and Olathe North’s taller lineup, where all starters stood at above the height of 6’4’’. Hair’s message to his team during their half court defense was to rebound, especially on the defensive end.
Senior wing Ryan Dornbusch, who finished with eight points, said after the game that it was mandatory to keep Smith off the offensive glass.
“Coming into the game, we knew he did a great job of offensive rebounding and putting back missed shots” Dornbush said. “So our initial plan was to have our bigs [Ward] and [Sullivan] lock him down.
Even though Dornbusch’s assignment defensively was to limit shooting guard Caleb Underwood, Dornbusch spent the majority of the second half switching off Olathe North’s pick-and-rolls, in which Smith was the main catalyst in. As a result, Dornbusch and with the help of forward Davis Morrison limited Smith to three points total, and no made field goals.
When East was able to negate any flow from Olathe North in the half-court by rebounding the Eagles’ misses, this led to an ample of opportunities for the Lancers in transition. Oftentimes, forward Davis Morrison was left vacant along the wing. As a result Morrison jumpstarted East’s offense at the start of both halves with his hot shooting–going 4-6 from behind the arc, he finished with a team-high 19.
A clear turning point in the game occurred in the final minutes of the third quarter, where Olathe North found success by utilizing a bigger lineup. This forced East’s rangy forwards–Henry Sullivan and Luke Ehly to defend the perimeter. The production from Danny Baker and Alonzo Williams off high ball-screens helped turn around a nine-point deficit for Olathe North into a two-point lead. During the third quarter, the Eagles drilled four three-pointers, keeping the game close until the end.
But the deciding factor for both teams proved to be from the foul line. Where five missed free throws by Olathe North in the final minutes of 4th quarter loomed large. Overall, the Eagles were 14/26 at the line. On the other hand, East converted on 21 out-of 26 free throw attempts, and none were bigger in the closing minutes, as Jay Guastello iced the game away with three consecutive makes.
Shawnee Mission East (4-10) extended their winning streak to three games.