Southeast’s dynamic duo of Israel Barnes and Jerrick Harding took their team all the way to the Class 6A boys championship game, something few outside the Golden Buffaloes’ locker room thought was possible.
Once there, they finally ran into another terrible twosome – twin brothers, actually – that they couldn’t handle. Nobody in the state of Kansas could.
Behind huge games from Michael Weathers and Marcus Weathers, Shawnee Mission North rolled to an 80-56 win over Southeast after losing in last year’s 6A semifinals.
The Weathers twins combined for 46 points and 17 rebounds — 26 points from Michael Weathers and 20 points from Marcus Weathers, including a handful of highlight-reel dunks.
Michael Weathers’ biggest contribution, however, was shutting down Harding, who finished with 22 points and entered the game averaging 40.5 points in the tournament. Harding broke Dodge City star Ernie Goolsby’s record for most points in a single tournament with 103 points in three games.
“Just really disappointed, just a lot of things we didn’t do great,” Harding said. “I think we’re all kind of feeling it right now ... it hurts to get so close, obviously, and not win the whole thing.”
Southeast (20-5) came out on fire, jetting to a 9-0 lead with 5:28 left in the first quarter after back-to-back three-pointers by Harding and another three from Jauan Manns.
“We got down early and that could’ve got to our heads, but we told ourselves to keep our composure,” Michael Weathers said. “We’ve been in that situation before and lost our composure. This time, we (relied) on our defense. That carried us.”
SM North (21-4) trailed 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, took a 19-17 lead on a basket by Michael Weathers with 6:55 left in the second quarter and never trailed again.
Back-to-back baskets by Marcus Weathers put SM North up 37-27 at halftime and Southeast never seriously threatened after that.
“We talked about this (since) our freshman year,” Marcus Weathers said. “We (wondered) what it would be like to lead this team to a state championship. We were able to accomplish that goal.”
“They were just a better team tonight,” Southeast coach Melvin Herring said. “Just came out a little flat, a little stagnant and just didn’t have the energy we needed.”
Barnes scored 14 points but struggled with 3-of-20 shooting and Southeast hit just 13 of 50 shots for the game. SM North also dominated on the glass, outrebounding Southeast 43-25.
“We’ll be back next year,” said Barnes, a sophomore. “We played the hardest we could, we just came up short.”
As Southeast made the long walk back to its locker room, SM North players ran toward its student section to chants of “Thank you, Marcus, thank you, Michael, thank you, Stitzer” for the two stars and coach Steve Stitzer. All four of SM North’s losses came to teams from Missouri.
Outside the Southeast locker room, a different chant could be heard.
“We all we need,” the team said in unison, repeating it three times.
“I’m so proud of these guys, for what they did for the school and for all the hard work they put in,” Herring said. “I love these guys. Each one of them.”