RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Aaron Neeser made the switch to a 2-3 zone midway through the first quarter on Monday, Jan. 11 with junior forward Morgen Smith in early foul trouble. The coach’s move paid dividends for the Trojans, who cruised to a 38-26 win against Park Hill South. The tightly packed zone limited Park Hill South’s standout freshman post Alecia Westbrook to just six points — a season low — and the Panthers experienced a drought of more than 8 minutes between baskets spanning both halves at Park Hill South High School.
“That’s not something we came in thinking we were going need,” Neeser said. “But I’m glad we had that in our back pocket. It was something that really helped us. It frustrated them at times, just glad the kids were able to execute.”
Smith scored a game-high 17 points, including eight during the key stretch sandwiched around halftime. Park Hill took control with a 14-0 run that stretched from the 2:30 mark of the second quarter to 1:08 remaining in the third quarter. The Panthers went 1-for-8 from the field in the third quarter and scored just four points in the frame.
“That was awesome,” Smith said. “I still wish we wouldn’t have let them get that bucket, but it was good motivation for us. Our team, ever since Christmas break, has made a lot of steps. We’re working more as a unit now.”
Park Hill South sophomore guard Raquel Reid broke the scoreless streak with a three-point play, which cut the Panthers deficit to 32-16. She led Park Hill South with nine points. Outside of Smith, Gigi Hopkins and Amanda Alexander provided the bulk of the remaining offense for Park Hill, tallying seven apiece.
Park Hill South shot just 14 percent from the field and went 15-for-30 from the free-throw line.
“Overall, we had just a bad shooting night,” Park Hill South coach Jenny Orlowski said, “a really bad shooting night. We were shooting 11 percent at halftime. We missed 15 free throws, which would have made the difference in the game. I think we came out and we didn’t play as confident as we could have played.
“I think we played intimidated and a little tentative and just couldn’t put it in the basket.”
Park Hill picked up the win in the Suburban Conference Red Division opener for both teams. The Trojans have now won four straight rivalry meetings, including a sweep of all three matchups last season after Park Hill South claimed the final two meetings in the 2013-14 season.
Park Hill hosts Liberty on Thursday, Jan. 14 in an early matchup with the defending conference champions.
“(The rivalry win) was a big deal to us,” Smith said. “For a lot of years, people have been doubting our ability and not really respecting us as a program. The only way to get that respect is to go out and beat people. That’s what we’re starting and we’re going for a conference championship.”
Park Hill South travels to St. Joseph Central on Thursday, Jan. 14 before starting the Oak Park Invitational with a matchup against Liberty North on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Park Hill 64, Platte County 53
Four players scored in double figures, and the Trojans’ offense broke out with a huge fourth quarter in a comeback win Tuesday, Jan. 5 at Platte County High School.
Smith scored a team-high 16 points, and Alex Berger added 14 for Park Hill. Hopkins and Alexander added 10 apiece. The Trojans tallied just seven points in the first quarter and were down eight, but they put up 21 in the second quarter to draw closer.
In the fourth quarter, Park Hill outscored Platte County 23-8.
Liz Peterson led Platte County with 16 points while Rocky Chambers (14) and Jaycie Stubbs (11) also finished in double figures. The Pirates were just 10 of 22 on free throws, while the Trojans were 16-for-24.
Smithville 46, Platte County 33
The Warriors established an early lead and rolled to a win Monday, Jan. 11 in Smithville, Mo.
Platte County (5-4) lost its second straight out of the holiday break. The Pirates did benefited from the return of senior forward Rachel Holden (four points) but played without coach Chris Stubbs, who served a one-game suspension for receiving two technical fouls during the loss to Park Hill. Holden, the leading scorer for Platte County a year ago, missed about a month with a foot injury.
Smithville led 22-13 at halftime and outscored the Pirates in all four quarters.
Platte County didn’t have a double-digit scorer with Chambers leading the way at eight points. Jaycie Stubbs hit a pair of 3s to account for all six of her points. The Pirates open Suburban Conference Blue Division play on Thursday, Jan. 14 vs. Raytown South.
Kearney 46, Park Hill 43
Both teams made 15 field goals, but the Bulldogs’ seven 3-pointers made the difference Thursday, Jan. 7 in Kearney, Mo.
Park Hill’s frustrating season continued, down 28-23 at halftime. Smith scored 12 and Hopkins added 11 in the loss. Mackenzie Jones hit the Trojans’ only two 3s, accounting for all six of her points.