PAWNEE – When Willie Leas plays like Willie Leas, ball games usually go Pawnee High’s way.
Tuesday night – and in recent weeks – Leas has flipped the switch after a slow start to the season.
Against Morrison in the Pawnee Gymnasium, the senior guard set the tone early in the Black Bears’ 75-47 shellacking of their Highway 64 rivals in the Wildcats.
Leas scored all 13 points of the night in the first half and that was all coach David Page needed of him, as Pawnee couldn’t miss for most of the first two quarters and had a huge lead at the break.
“Willie played that way for us all year long last year,” Page said. “This year, he started really slow and the last few games he has played like Willie and done really well.”
Morrison (5-6) was put out of sorts after its frontcourt offense was jeopardized when forwards Doug Harshbarger and Braden Bales picked up two fouls apiece in the first quarter.
The duo had helped the Wildcats earn a seven-point victory on Saturday in the Mike Kerr Classic, but now would have to watch their teammates try to replicate the task and fail.
“We wanted to attack them because they attacked us the other night,” Page said. “We just played like ourselves and played real well up and down the floor. We played pretty decent defense and everything went our way tonight.”
Morrison coach Cory Bales was disgusted with his team’s play in the contest as he felt the Wildcats didn’t adjust well to having to change up the offense to a perimeter game against Pawnee (10-3).
“They outplayed us, they outhustled us, hell they beat us in every phase of the game and embarrassed us tonight,” Coach Bales said. “…“You have to be able to make shots and we couldn’t do that and we got buried.”
The Wildcats didn’t have any players in double digits as Guner Womack and Gage Williams shared the honors of lead scorers with nine points each.
Whereas it was a step back for Morrison, it was a return to form for the Class A No. 18 Black Bears as Page said performances like that are possible when his team plays to its full potential.
“I hope that is the way we play more often,” Page said. “We got beat the first night and my kids kind of figured out we would have to work harder and then we took a little bump over there and figured it out again. We played real hard tonight and did a lot of good stuff.”
Sophomore Landreth Harrison joined Leas in double digits as he led the Black Bears with 15 points.
The Black Bears head to Yale on Friday, as the Wildcats will welcome Class A No. 7 Garber to Morrison.
“First thing we have to do is get back to work defensively because we were pretty poor there tonight,” Cory Bales said. “Anything they want to do, they did and you aren’t going to win against a good team like that.”