January 27, 2024

By Fred Liggett

To win the annual Summit Grill Shootout the championship team has to win three games in five days. The Raytown Blue Jays were having so much fun that after 12 quarters of basketball they played four more minutes on Friday night before claiming the title at the 49th annual event. It’s a good thing the Blue Jays put in the extra work as they outscored the Lee’s Summit North Broncos 15-5 in overtime to earn the championship with an 80-70 victory. Raytown finished the week at 3-0 and improve to 9-5 on the 23-24 season.

On playing three games in five days, Raytown head basketball coach Cody Buford says “three really good teams, hard fought victories.” Coach Buford adds, “We stuck together, stayed positive.” The three opponents on the basketball court wasn’t the only thing the Blue Jays had to overcome to find championship success as Buford states “a long week, playing three 8:30 p.m. games and had no practice on Tuesday.”

On reasons for the results turning out how they did for the Blue Jays Coach Buford feels its due to “how hard our kids work and they are fun to work with.” The Blue Jays scored wins over St. Michael’s and host Lee’s Summit before defeating Lee’s Summit North in OT.

With the tournament championship now in the rearview mirror the Blue Jays hope to have similar tournament success in late February when districts time comes. Coach Buford likes how the Summit Grill Shootout prepares his team for the post-season saying, “It’s a better situation to prepare for one and done, can’t recreate this by playing in a packed gym.”

This year’s all-tournament team featured two players from the champions, junior Ramelo Smith and junior Larry Porter. Others making the list include PK Newberry from LS North and Jaylen Lockhart from Lee’s Summit. Smith and Porter provided a 1-2 punch for the Blue Jays and it showed in Friday’s title game. Smith had 29 points and Porter had 23 in regulation. Sometimes working for extra credit is worth it as in this case it’s a tournament title that the Blue Jays take back home to Raytown.