EPC reaches finals of Kansas City tourney
With one tournament title already in their reach, as they won the Mountain Home Shootout two weeks ago, the East Poinsett County senior boys basketball team returned to action last weekend as they participated in the Paul Draper Classic at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kan.
The tournament featured some of the toughest teams in America, as each of the eight teams in the tournament provided fans with some great basketball. The tournament featured host Blue Valley Northwest High School, the number four team in Class AAAAAA in the state of Kansas; Cahokia, a top team in the state of Illinois; Westport, the number one high school team in Kansas City and Tulsa Booker T. Washington, the number eight high school team in the United States.
In the first round last Thursday night, EPC faced a tough Grain Valley team that had an in-town advantage over EPC, who had traveled 12 hours late last week to participate in the tournament. However, a strong first quarter by EPC set the tempo as EPC defeated Grain Valley 58-45. EPC led Grain Valley 16-4 after one quarter and 36 to 13 at halftime on their way to victory, advancing to the second round. EPC was led by the duo of Marcus Monk and Daniel Collins, who combined for 39 of the team's 58 points. Monk scored 26 points on the night, while Collins scored 13 points for EPC. Jared Stricklin led Grain Valley with 12 points. In the second round last Friday, EPC again faced a tough challenge as they faced the number one team in Kansas City, Westport. Westport, who has boasted such players as Kareem Rush of Missouri and where his two brothers currently play got down early on EPC as the Warriors defeated Westport 79-54. EPC jumped out to an early 20-8 lead, keyed by the play of Monk, Collins and guard P.J. Lacy. All three players scored in double figures to help EPC reach the finals of the tournament Saturday night. Daniel Collins led EPC with 19 points, while Monk scored 16 points. P.J. Lacy added 13 points and put pressure on the Westport guards, causing turnovers. Of the game, EPC Head Coach Kevin Kyzer told the Tri-City Tribune that his team took advantage of a case of overconfidence by Westport to pick up the win. Kyzer said, "When we walked on the court, they (Westport) thought that they had us beat. However, we ran our secondary offense, which set up three pointers all night. And we were nailing them."
EPC reached the finals of the tournament last Saturday and in turn faced the number four team in Class AAAAAA in the state of Kansas, in Blue Valley Northwest. BVNW overcame a run by EPC in the fourth quarter and both overtime periods to pick up a 69-67 win over EPC. EPC led throughout the game, leading 19-6 after one quarter and 29-20 at halftime. BVNW cut into the EPC lead in the second half, turning a 42-36 deficit after three quarters into a 54-54 tie at the end of regulation. Both teams battled in the first overtime period, with the game being tied at 61 after one overtime period. The key to the game occurred in the second overtime, with a three point basket by BVNW with 15 seconds to set up the victory. Marcus Monk, who was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the tournament, led EPC with 30 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Daniel Collins and P.J. Lacy added 18 and 14 points respectively for EPC, who received a second-place trophy for their efforts.
Kyzer told the Tri-City Tribune that he was surprised by his team's efforts in the tournament. Kyzer said, "I expected to go 1 and 2 in the tournament, but to reach the finals was amazing." EPC returns to action next week, when they participate in the NEA Invitational Tournament at ASU.