Maybe it was the pink socks.
Lyons High paid tribute to those fighting cancer on Pink Night that doubled as Senior Night.
Senior Lukas Padilla enjoyed a perfect 4-of-4 shooting night as the Lions’ seniors came up big in a dominating 59-42 Central Kansas League basketball victory over Nickerson Tuesday.
Seniors Brett Wilson, Daniel Cline, Carmen Jeffery, Luis Rascon and Matthew Vincent shared the spotlight for Lyons. Lyons shot a season best 57 percent on 23 of 39 field goals keyed by excellent passing by Ryan McClure and Matthew Vincent.
“I wish I knew why we played so well tonight or otherwise, we’d do that every night,” said Lyons coach Brian Friess. “Ryan McClure is our leader on the court and he set everyone up for their shots tonight. We had guys off the bench perform at a high level and hit shots for us. That was an unbelievable effort by Lukas Padilla tonight. We were definitely on the right page tonight.”
Vincent led the Lions with 14 points. Padilla scored nine points and Pina chipped in eight points. Eight Lions scored points. Lyons converted five 3-point goals by making the right pass every time.
Vincent got the Lions rolling with nine first-quarter points. Lyons scored on six of eight possessions for a 13-9 lead. The second quarter was even sharper. McClure dished assists to Alan Pina and Padilla off penetration and Pina returned the favor with an assist to Vincent. Reserve James Jared capped a 27-18 halftime lead with three points.
Nickerson reserve Ben Berridge sparked the Panthers briefly with back-to-back assists to Ryan O’Toole and Connor Childs to slice the lead to 18-16. But Lyons started a 13-2 run by outscoring Nickerson 9-2. Lyons converted 14 Nickerson turnovers into some easy scores.
The second half was even more efficient as the Lions shot 65 percent on 13 of 20 field goals. Padilla and McClure scored off turnovers to start the half for a 31-18 lead. McClure’s assist to James Jared led to a 41-27 lead. Vincent and Pina scored off transition for a 45-32 lead that Lyons never lost.
Lyons (10-10, 5-4 CKL) will be seeded sixth in the Hillsboro Class 3A substate and play at Hillsboro (12-8) Tuesday after a three-way tie was broken. Lyons split with Hillsboro, winning 41-35 and losing 57-43.
Tuesday's other matchups are Hutchinson Trinity (5-14) at Marion (15-5); Southeast of Saline (9-11) at Salina Sacred Heart (12-8); and Halstead (9-11) at Haven (12-8). Halstead upset the Wildcats 61-59 Tuesday.
Nickerson (5-15, 1-8 CKL) finishes on a downwind trend for Ryan Duft. The No. 7 seeded Panthers will travel to No. 2 seeded Ulysses (9-11) at 6 p.m. Monday in the Pratt 4A substate.
A victory over Lyons would've given the Panthers a 25 percent chance of playing a home substate game.
“We are not going to win, giving up 59 points,” Duft said. “It all started with giving up dribble penetration. Their guards attacked the basket, scored and passed back for 3-pointers. Our help defense was slow and that gave them open shots. Give Lyons a lot of credit because they really executed well and had a lot of players contributing.”
Duft switched to pressure defense the second half, but Lyons executed solidly for several fastbreak scores.
Nickerson seniors O’Toole and Jake Stiverson showed some offensive spark. O’Toole muscled inside for 12 points and seven rebounds. Stiverson scored nine points with a pair of 3-pointers. Childs scored nine points in a hustling effort. Ethan Belden added eight points.
“The nice thing is our two seniors closed out the regular season with solid ballgames,” Duft said. “We got the basketball where we wanted, but we did not take advantage of our offensive opportunities. We couldn’t get enough defensive stops tonight. The best we did was trade baskets that second half.”
Nickerson finished 17 of 47 from the field against Lyons’ switching defenses. The Lions showed off aggressive man-to-man, two halfcourt zones and a trapping pressure scheme.
“We like to keep teams off balance and switch things up,” Friess said. “At times, what we did was effective. I like to change the pressure and it worked well at times.”
Top-seeded Andale (17-2) is state-ranked and a solid favorite at the Pratt substate. But no one else has a winning record.
“I always like to play a team that has not seen us,” Duft said. “Outside of Andale, it appears to be pretty wide open. But we’ve got to play better defense and with our more intensity than we did tonight to have a chance.”