Where some may have seen matchup problems, Liberty North forward Brinkley Jolly saw an opportunity.
Playing against a Park Hill South starting lineup that boasts four players 6 feet 4 or taller, Jolly found increased responsibility Saturday night as the Eagles’ top post player.
He was up for the challenge.
Jolly responded with a game-high 17 points and six rebounds, leading Liberty North to a 44-36 win against Park Hill South in the title game of the American Family Insurance Holiday Classic at William Jewell. The Eagles won the crown in the Cardinal Division.
“I think we got a complete performance from (Jolly),” Eagles coach Chris McCabe said. “He didn’t want out of the game. He wanted to play. He was patient and let things come to him, which let him get into a good rhythm.”
And prevented Park Hill South from getting into its game.
Jolly, who was selected the division’s most valuable player, and the Eagles limited the inside play of the Panthers, who dropped their second game of the season — both to Liberty North. Park Hill South also lost three-plus weeks ago in the championship game of the inaugural Liberty North Invitational.
In a game marked by its physicality, the Panthers shot only 36 percent Saturday night, and post player Robert Lane was limited to six points and five rebounds.
“We talked about in the locker room that whoever executes and rebounds best wins,” Jolly said. “We were motivated. We wanted to prove that the last time wasn’t luck. We’re for real.”
Liberty North, 8-3, used an early 9-0 run to turn a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead. The Eagles never trailed after the first quarter and maintained at least a five-point lead throughout the fourth quarter.
The latter represented a welcome change after the Eagles nearly let a 16-point lead slip against William Chrisman.
This time, Liberty North used its defense and a steady dose of rebounding — it had a 28-24 edge on the boards — to prevent any comeback attempt. Park Hill South twice could have pulled within four points, but Payton Meek and Anthony Weeds each saw three-pointers roll around the rim and out.
Woods led the Panthers with eight points.
“We said that we have to get things changed and changed quickly, and the guys changed them quickly,” McCabe said of closing out games. “They saw what they needed to correct, and they made the corrections and got it done.”
Blue Springs 62, Smithville 52
Blue Springs shot 56 percent in overcoming two 20-point scorers from Smithville. The Wildcats, 6-4, took third place in the Cardinal Division.
Brock Mick scored 22 and Derek Howe added 20 for the Warriors, 5-4, but Blue Springs guard Justin Pruitt responded with 20 of his own.
Elijah Lee scored 17 and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Mick and Howe combined for 14 field goals.
Hogan Prep 55, Lincoln Prep 50
Amaad Wainright starred for the second consecutive day, posting a double-double in leading Hogan Prep to victory in the fifth-place game. Wainright had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Teammate Jonathan Hawkins also recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Lincoln Prep, 5-6, shot only 34 percent and turned the ball over 15 times. Charles Harris scored 19 in the loss.