KANSAS CITY MO. — Platte County started slowly, but once the offence clicked, the Pirates seemingly scored at will in the opening round of the Winnetonka Invitational against the hosts. Seeded No. 3 in the Gold Bracket, Platte County cruised to a 74-41 win Monday, Nov. 30 at Winnetonka High School to move to 2-0 on the year. The 74 points marked the first time the Pirates have cracked the 70-point mark since an 82-21 win against Liberty North on February 8, 2011.
Platte County didn’t score more than 69 points a year ago, but with all but one player back from last year and a handful of meaningful additions, the Pirates have upped expectations to produce this year. The Pirates opened the regular season with a 64-37 win against Liberty North last week.
“It’s been a while,” Platte County coach Chris Stubbs said. “From 2006-2011, we scored a lot of points so 74 is nice. That’s good. We’re scoring this year. It’s a good thing.”
Winnetonka led early before an 8-3 run gave the Pirates their first lead of the game with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Freshman guard Jaycie Stubbs scored six of her 10 points in the opening 8 minutes, production fueled by a switch to a full-court-press after the sluggish start.
Platte County led 18-17 after the first quarter and the lead ballooned to 38-30 at half and 57-37 after the third quarter.
“I knew once we picked up our intensity and got comfortable we would be fine,” said Platte County sophomore guard Racquel Chambers, who scored six of her game-high 16 points in the third quarter. “We have to come out stronger and have our defense on point. We picked up the defense. It’s really important, especially with teams who have good shooters and drivers. We really need to keep the intensity up and not play down to their speed — make them play at our speed.”
Platte County allowed only 11 points after halftime on the way to a blowout win. Winnetonka beat the Pirates in their opener of the Winnetonka Invitational in 2014, and the two Suburban Conference Blue Division rivals split four total meetings a season ago.
Four players tallied double figures for Platte County in the first matchup of this season: junior forward Liz Peterson (12 points) and senior forward Rachel Holden (10 points), the returning leading scorer from last year, in addition to Chambers, who moved back to the district and did not play for the Pirates last year and Jaycie Stubbs.
“That’s hard to key in when you have three or four girls scoring double figures,” Chris Stubbs said. “It’s nice to have.”
Platte County will face Park Hill South in a semifinal scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 2 with the winner moving on to Friday’s championship game and the loser going to the third-place game the same day. Last year, the Pirates went 1-2 and placed sixth in the bracket. They split two games with Park Hill South a year ago during an 8-17 season that featured a slew of close losses.
“You’ve got to come out against every opponent no matter who it is every night,” Chris Stubbs said. “We came out real flat (against Winnetonka). We didn’t have a lot of energy the first three or four minutes and they kind of smacked us around, but we dug ourselves out of it and then played real well.”
Park Hill South 47, ACC Prep 36
The Panthers’ new lineup continued to take shape with coach Jenny Orlowski still figuring out where her new pieces fit into the system. Alecia Westbrook, a freshman forward, started on the bench for the second straight game but again provided a big impact as a substitute with a co-team-high 10 points in their opener of the Winnetonka Invitational.
“I talked to the girls after the game about role playing.” Orlowski said. “We have a lot of different types of players on our team. We can go with a lot of different combinations depending on what we need. If we need ultra-, uber-fast, we have that. We’re a bit more solid on the inside this year with Alecia and my other posts. We’re still trying to figure the team out.
“We’re not really sure where we’re going to end up. We’ve got some new players so we’re still trying to get them adjusted.”
Mainstays from last season’s roster like sophomore guard Raquel Reid (10 points) and seniors Mayleigh Oder (nine points) and Ashton Gray (seven points) also chipped in Park Hill South’s balanced effort.
The Panthers went into halftime tied with the Gold bracket’s No. 7 seed after a dismal display of shooting in the second quarter. They hit just one shot, and ACC Prep’s Breon Gunnels scored 10 of her game-high 27 points in the frame to lead the Knights back to even the game.
“She was a great player,” Orlowski said. “I think the girls got intimidated and played scared in the first half. Halftime, we said, ‘You can’t have any fear; you just have to drive the ball and get in there.’ Once we found our courage, we did a little better in the third quarter.”
After halftime, Park Hill South again built its advantage and hit its free throws late to provide the final margin. The Panthers went 15-of-20 at the line in the second half after a 2-for-8 effort before halftime. Park Hill South faces Platte County in the semifinals. The two team split their meetings a year ago with the Pirates winning the regular season matchup and the Panthers taking the meeting during the Oak Park Invitiational.
Platte County 64, Liberty North 37
Chambers tallied a team-high 15 points to lead the Pirates to a season-opening win Tuesday, Nov. 24 in Liberty, Mo.
Lindsey Bogart and (11 points) and Stubbs (10 points) also finished in double figures for Platte County, which featured six players with at least seven points. The Pirates tallied at least 13 points in each quarter and led 33-17 at halftime.
Platte County scored more than 64 points just twice all of last season.
Park Hill South 72, Fort Osage 55
Westbrook posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in the Panthers’ opener Monday, Nov. 23 in Independence, Mo.
Park Hill South’s three double-digit scorers included two reserves with Dymeria Guillory adding 10 more points off the bench. The starters and backups evenly split the 72 points, which bettered the Panthers’ season high from 2014-15 by 13.
Westbrook and Guillory combined to make 13 free throws, and starting guard Reid hit 4 of 4 from the line on her way to 12 points. Overall, the Panthers were 18 of 27 on free throws.
Grace Cunningham hit all three of Park Hill South’s 3-pointers and finished with nine points.