By Brent Maycock, Topeka Capital-Journal
It wasn’t necessarily a case of deja-vu for Topeka High in Saturday’s third-place game of the Leavenworth Invitational.
But darned if Trojan coach Pat Denney didn’t call his team’s 59-53 loss to Hogan Prep (Mo) “eerily familiar” to Friday’s semifinal loss to tourney host Leavenworth.
In both cases, Topeka High was in position to win the game heading into the fourth quarter. In both cases, the Trojans couldn’t seal the deal.
Tied 43-43 with Hogan Prep after three quarters on Saturday, High endured a five-minute scoring drought in the final period that ultimately led to its demise.
“Our point I wrote before the game on the chalkboard was ‘Execution,’” Denney said. “We have to learn to execute, to get the ball to our scorers or whoever is hot at that time of the game. … We’re just doing little things that are costing us down the stretch of games.”
Execution wasn’t an issue for the Trojans at the start of the fourth quarter. On three straight possessions to begin the final period, High got the ball in good spots and got baskets from Ashontis Sanders, Russell Denney and J’Shavon Hendricks — the last of those a 3-pointer that staked the Trojans to a 50-45 lead with 5:59 to play.
Just when it looked like High was clicking, the Trojans went into a funk. High missed its next five shots and turned it over five times, going five minutes without scoring.
By the time Johnny Herrero ended the drought with a long jumper with 56 seconds left, Hogan Prep had taken control. The Rams took advantage of High’s woes to hit the Trojans with a 12-0 run to take a 57-50 lead.
“(Our inexperience) was real apparent (Friday), maybe even more than tonight,” Denney said. “When it came down to running some sets to get good looks, we just didn’t execute.”
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