Platte County’s opener and first tournament of the season featured difficulty closing out wins in tight matchups.
With a roster devoid of seniors, the Pirates found the fix for that on Thursday, Dec. 11 at Platte County High School in a comfortable 51-42 win against Park Hill South. Madysen Fine, a junior guard/forward, tallied a career-high 25 points, including four second-half 3s, despite fouling out with a 1 minute, 35 seconds to play.
“I fouled out, but I did not get nervous one bit,” said Fine, who hit her final 3 moments before fouling out to put the Pirates ahead 47-37. “I knew my team had it, had it in their hands, and knew what they needed to do. They stayed focused; they got the job done.”
Platte County won a second straight and improved to 3-4 on the season with a 41-29 win Monday, Dec. 15 against Excelsior Springs. The Pirates don’t play again Jan. 6 at Park Hill.
The two comfortable victories were welcome after Platte County couldn’t hold a late lead in a season-opening loss to Liberty North before going 1-2 in the Winnetonka Invitational. That included a double-overtime loss to Pembroke Hill in the consolation game.
Platte County took an early lead against Park Hill South, holding the Panthers scoreless for the first 4:44.
Fouls started to pile up against the Pirates late in the opening frame, and freshman Raquel Reid’s jumper from the right wing at the buzzer closed Park Hill South within 11-7. The Panthers took their first lead at 12-11 on a 3 from Emily Dinovo and expanded their advantage to six and then seven on a pair of 3s from Mackenzie Stout, who drained a trio of triples in the first half on her way to a team-high 18 points.
Platte County closed the half on a 9-4 run to go into halftime down 24-22 despite mounting foul trouble.
“We’re not deep, and we had some girls step up that haven’t had a lot of varsity experience,” Platte County coach Chris Stubbs said, “came off the bench and did a great job for us — gave us some minutes that we really needed.”
Park Hill South ended up 17-for-24 on free throws but couldn’t hold its lead thanks to Fine, who hit a 3 at the regulation buzzer to send the game with Pembroke Hill into overtime in the consolation final of the Winnetonka Invitational.
Fine and Lindsey Bogart both hit hit 3s during the third quarter, and the Pirates were up 32-26 with 8 minutes to play. Fine picked up her fourth foul 10 seconds into the fourth quarter but returned to hit three more 3s, finishing 5-for-9 from beyond the arc on her career night. Rachel Holden, a junior center, added 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Platte County went 9-for-19 on free throws.
“The girls are growing up,” Stubbs said. “We’ve lost three close games this year, and to get a win like that, to close them out and finish, it’s great.”
Holden scored a team-high 14 in the win against Excelsior Springs.
Platte County featured a more balanced attack against the Tigers and took control in the fourth quarter. Fine added nine points, and Liz Peterson scored eight in the win.
West Platte girls 61, KC Lutheran 50
Career-highs in scoring for junior Taylor Binkley and sophomore Nealie Niemeier powered the Bluejays to a win Monday, Dec. 15 at West Platte High School in Weston, Mo.
West Platte senior Mattie Vandel kickstarted a three-pronged attack and finished with 18 points. Binkley scored 17, including 10 in the second half, and Niemeier scored 16 of her career-best total after the break — eight in each of the final two quarters. The Knights, last year’s runner-up in Class 2 District 15, adjusted and tried to limit Vandel after she scored 11 in the first half.
Niemeier ended with a career-best 23 points.
“It’s a pretty big morale boost,” Niemeier said. “We got 61 points. Coach said she wanted at least 50. We got 11 above that so that’s a pretty big accomplishment.”
The 61 points marked a season-high. It had been more nearly a year since the last time the Bluejays reached 60 points — a 64-49 win against Lone Jack in the seventh-place game of the North Platte Invitational on Jan. 31.
“We talked about our press breaker and dribbling with our eyes up,” Binkley said. “We tried to pass the ball through the middle of the court. That’s where the openings are. We were looking to each other to see who was open to get the wide open layups.”
Jessica Lintner (two points) and Gretchen Hiatt (one) were the only other West Platte players to factor in the scoring. Hiatt, a junior, averages six points per game but spent most of the game on the bench due to foul trouble.
Coming off an 0-2 showing at the KCI Conference Tournament, West Platte improved to 2-4 with matchups vs. Hogan Prep (Thursday, Dec. 18) and the KCI opener at Plattsburg (Dec. 19) left on the schedule before the holiday break.
Belton girls 46, Park Hill South 45
The Panthers’ losing streak hit four Monday, Dec. 15. In each game, Park Hill South allowed more than than 40 points on defense after limiting opponents under that mark during a three-game winning streak to open the season.
Park Hill South held a 28-24 lead at halftime and entered the fourth quarter tied at 35 after losing a seven-point lead in the first half of the loss to Platte County last week.
Sydney Baska finished with a double-double for the Panthers — 11 points and 10 rebounds — while Stout also accounted for 11 points with three- 3-pointers. Sophomore Emily Dinovo added eight points in the losing effort.
Park Hill South outrebounded the Pirates 33-29 — including 12-6 on the offensive glass — but could not convert enough second-chance opportunities.
A Thursday, Dec. 18 road matchup at Raytown South offers Park Hill South a chance to even its record before an idle stretch of nearly a month. The Panthers’ next date is Jan. 5 at Oak Park, and their next home game is not until Jan. 15.