By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Saturday night's championship boys game of the 52nd Annual Scott City Invitational was a version of David vs. Goliath.
In this case, Class 1A Greeley County versus Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy, a prep school in Wichita that brings in basketball recruits from as far away as eastern Europe and Africa.
The group of elite players included 6-foot-9 Raphael Akepejiori, 6-8 Rendijs Gzibovskis and 6-1 Leon Cooper.
For Jackrabbit coach Jeff Starkey, all the slingshot stones they could throw weren't enough to overcome the much taller Buffaloes, as they walked off with the title, 58-36.
Despite the 22-point loss, the Jackrabbits could take solace in knowing the difference was closer than any other team in the tournament (25 and 39 point victories in the first two rounds) had been to Sunrise. And that the 58 points yielded was the season-low for the Buffs (7-0). Sunrise won a tournament in Texas two weeks ago.
"Early on, I thought we did about as good a job defensively on them as we could," Starkey said. "They competed and I told the kids at halftime that we realized what we were up against and they said they were having the experience of their lifetime playing against a team like that."
A brief 4-2 Greeley County lead disappeared when the Buffs went on a 15-6 run to conclude the opening quarter with an 18-10 lead.
In the final five minutes of the first half Cooper scored 12 points in three minutes, sandwiched around a dunk by Akpejiori. The spree put the Buffs up 37-20 and 39-23 at intermission.
"We learned a lot from this experience," Starkey said. "(Sunrise) exposes your weakness but just the experience of playing against players who might someday be in the NBA is something the kids will never forget."
The Sunrise lead increased to as much as 27 in the third quarter.
"The thing we found in the tournament is that we finally had some perimeter shooting (6-of-18 from 3-point range)," Starkey said. "Just finding the creases in their defense was difficult enough, but they really battled all the way. We've still got a lot of things to get better so we can use this to build on."
Cooper finished with a game-high 16 points to lead Sunrise, while Akepejiori added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Stephen Houston paced the Jackrabbits (3-1) with 13 points including three 3-pointers. Jonathan Miller grabbed six rebounds to pace the Jackrabbits who lost the board battle, 23-16.
The Jackrabbits will play Tuesday at home against Syracuse.
Tourney awards, competitions: On Saturday a 3-point and free throw contest were held before competition.
Cooper was the boys' Most Valuable Player. His teammate, Misha Korshnuv, was named the tourney's Most Inspirational Player. Named to the all-tournament team were Cooper and Akepejiori of Sunrise; Miller and Isaac Wilson of Greeley County; Logan Singhisen of Holcomb; Ron Baker and Jorden Funk of Scott City; Tate Jackson of Wichita Defenders; Trae Bremer of Wichita County; and Dylan Shalberg of Lakin.
See other box scores on Scoreboard, Page B2.
Saturday at Scott City Invitational
Wichita Sunrise 58, Greeley County 36
Sunrise (9-0) — Korshunov 2-3 0-0 6, Matulis 1-4 2-2 5, Popovic 0-1 0-0 0, Cooper 7-11 0-0 16, Atherton 1-2 0-0 3, Fager 0-3 0-0 0, Adair 1-3 0-0 2, Clark 1-1 0-2 2, Akepejiori 7-8 1-3 15, Gzibovskis 3-3 1-1 7, Sands 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24 4-8 58.
Greeley Co. (3-1) — Miller 2-7 0-0 4, Nemechek 1-2 0-0 2, A. Wilson 1-2 0-0 3, Robertson 0-1 0-0 0, Houston 5-13 0-0 13, Schneider 2-6 4-5 8, I. Wilson 2-4 0-0 6. Totals 13 4-5 36.
Sunrise 18 21 13 6 — 58
Greeley Co. 10 13 6 7 — 36
3-point goals — Sunrise 6-7 (Korshunov 2-2, Matus 1-2, Cooper 2-2, Atherton 1-1), Greeley Co. 6-18 (A. Wilson 1-2, Houston 3-10, Schneider 0-2, I. Wilson 2-4). Total rebounds — Sunrise 23 (Akpejiori 10), Greeley Co. 16 (Miller 6). Turnovers — Sunrise 14, Greeley Co. 17. Total fouls — Sunrise 11, Greeley Co. 7. Fouled out — none.