ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Platte County guard Sam Zimmerman’s quick scoring outburst came in the middle of a lengthy run. He scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the second quarter on Friday, Dec. 19 to lead the Pirates to an easy 66-44 win against St. Joseph Benton inside Springer Gymansium.
Zimmerman tallied eight in a row during a 23-4 run that gave Platte County complete control.
“It was fun,” Zimmerman said. “We got it going early and kept it going. I just tried to play with the game. If I felt the shot was open, I was going to shoot it. If I didn’t feel like it was there, I would swing it. I just got in the groove.”
Benton’s M.J. Johnson, a 6-foot-6 forward, helped the Cardinals stay close through the first quarter. His presence relegated Platte County to a lot of outside attempts, which were not falling until Zimmerman’s first of two 3-pointers fell.
The hot shooting helped Platte County improve to 3-5 ahead of a lengthy break. The Pirates don’t play again until a home date with St. Joseph Central on Jan. 9 before traveling to Kearney’s Bulldog Classic and the Basehor-Linwood (Kan.) Tournament the following two weeks.
“We got a lot of confidence out of this game,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully that will transition to after break. Coach’s message was “Keep playing like this.’”
After scoring six points in the first quarter, Johnson went to the bench with foul trouble early in the second quarter, and Platte County took advantage. The Pirates turned a 15-13 lead after 8 minutes into a 39-21 advantage at halftime.
Platte County senior guard Aaron Brown scored all six of his points during the second quarter.
“I think the first three buckets of the ball game went to their post ,” Hodge said. “I was not at all happy with or post defense, the way they were just lobbing it into the post, so we had to make some adjustments there. That kind of helped slow them down. We gave up quite a few points in the first quarter.”
Johnson didn’t score again and finished with six points.
Platte County senior Josh Eastman complemented Zimmerman’s effort with 11 points, including a second quarter 3-pointer, after the big run started, while fellow senior guard Topher Kilkenny scored seven points on 7-for-10 shooting from the charity stripe.
“Offensively, we shot the ball better tonight,” Platte County coach Rick Hodge said after the thumping of Benton. “I think we shot the ball better, the way they are capable of shooting. Once we hit a couple early we gained momentum. We gained confidence. The other guys picked up there. We got some putbacks. The putbacks got us some easy buckets, helped give us momentum and gave us confidence as well.”
West Platte boys 51, Plattsburg 39
The Bluejays picked up their fourth win in a row — including two against the same foe, traveling to Plattsburg, Mo. on Friday, Dec. 19.
West Platte senior guard Cody Guthrie scored 17 points, while senior forward Conner Salmons added 15. The two teams met a week earlier in the consolation game of the KCI Conference Tournament.
This one opened the league regular season slate, improving West Platte to 6-2 overall.
“It was another good team win,” West Platte coach Dillon Higdon said.
West Platte plays next Jan. 5 against DeKalb, and Higdon, starting his first year with the Bluejays planned to give his players off days until Dec. 26.
“It will be nice to take an extended time off,” Higdon said. “I’m used to playing in a holiday tournament but the time off will be nice. A lot of the kids came straight from football so they need to recharge.”
East Buchanan boys 76, North Platte 45
The Bulldogs poured on the points late, running away for an easy win in the schools’ KCI opener Friday, Dec. 19 at East Buchanan High School in Gower, Mo. East Buchanan outscored the Panthers 18-2 in the final quarter to finish off the convincing win.
North Platte junior Andrew Roberts finished with a game-high 22 points in the losing effort. He hit four 3-pointers, and senior Austin Shanks (16 points) hit two from beyond the arc, helping the duo combine for the majority of the offense.
North Platte trailed 49-26 at halftime and dropped to 1-5 on the season. The Panthers play at North Andrew on Jan. 2.
Park Hill boys 72, Lee’s Summit North 42
The Trojans improved to 5-1 on Tuesday, December 16 with the lone loss so far a setback against Blue Springs South in the semifinals of the Blue Springs South Invitational.
Deonte Wilson tallied a team-high 19 points with three 3-pointers, while senior guard Landry Shamet, signed to play at Division I Wichita State, added 15 points and two treys. The Trojans outscored Lee’s Summit North in every quarter.
Now winners of three straight, Park Hill plays next in the Nelson Division of the William Jewell Holiday Classic. The Trojans own the No. 2 seed and open with Grandview on Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m in Liberty, Mo.