Posted On: 01/15/18 8:43 PM

Five Takeaways: NKC-St. Pius X

Northtown wins agin, captures first-round win

The opening round of play in the 68th annual North Kansas City Invitational got underway on Monday and the host Hornets hung on for a 63-46 win over St. Pius X.

With the win, NKC, ranked fifth in Missouri Class 5, improves to 16-0 this season and advances to face either Park Hill South or Liberty North in a semifinal on Wednesday.

Here, Prep Hoops takes a look at five things that stood out in the contest.

North Kansas City 2018 guard Deng Bol compete on Monday against St. Pius X.

Bol one of state’s most underrated

A 6’3 2018 point guard, North Kansas City’s Deng Bol can do it all … he handles it well, gets in the lane and makes plays off the dribble and can shoot it with range beyond the 3-point arc. But he is probably even more impressive at the defensive end where he is a lockdown defender, smothering opponents on the perimeter and blocking shots in the lane. He scored eight points in the first half of Monday’s win over St. Pius X and added several assists.

St. Pius X 2018 forward Andrew Hipp (42) battles NKC 2018 forward Lance Rogers (22) on Monday.

Hipp a solid big man 

A 6’7 2018 forward, Andrew Hipp has flown under the radar this season at St. Pius X. On Monday, he showed the ability to rebound in traffic, block shots and score on the block. Hipp has good hands, is strong with the ball and is a good passer, able to throw the ball out of double teams and find the open man. He struggled to make some bunnies early in Monday’s contest against North KC, but rallied to put together a solid all-around game, going for 10 points and nine rebounds.

North Kansas City 2018 guard T.J. Babikir compete on Monday against St. Pius X.

North Kansas City a contender in Class 5

Ranked No. 5 in the latest Missouri Class 5 poll, North Kansas City continues to roll and improved to 16-0 this season as they remained undefeated with Monday’s win. The xx have a well-rounded varsity roster featuring 2019 guard Yonathon Elful, 2019 forward Erik Slack, 2018 forward Lance Rogers as well as 2018 guards Deng Bol and T.J. Babikir. On Monday, all five players had solid moments of play throughout the xx win, and 202 guard D’Anthony Pennington came off the bench to provide an offensive spark as well. Although NKC hasn’t gotten a lot of attention from around the state, they are among the more well-rounded teams in the Kansas City area and will be a handful come postseason.

Rogers impresses for Hornets

A strong, physical 2018 forward, North Kansas City’s Lance Rogers had his was with St. Pius X in the paint and along the baseline on Monday, going for 20 points and eight rebounds. He and 2019 forward Erik Slack largely overpowered St. Pius X in the paint and won the battle on the boards. At 6’6, 190-pounds, Rogers used his size to carve out space in the paint and also showed a soft outside shooting touch as he made a 3 early on in the contest.

Conforti confounds in the lane

An undersized, 6’1 2018 post player, the Warriors’ Johnny Conforti put together a strong performance for St. Pius X leading the team with 14 points. Conforti makes the most out of his abilities and you have to respect that. Despite being undersized, he uses his body well and finds a way to create space in the lane and does a good job of finishing around bigger players in the lane. He went for 14 points and while we didn’t track field goal attempts, we don’t remember him missing many shots.