For the third year in a row North Kansas City ended the season for Park Hill South — this time in the playoffs.
The former district foes were familiar with each other after meeting in the district finals the past two winters. This time, in different districts, the two state-ranked powers collided in a Class 5 sectional game.
It was another low-scoring contest but the Hornets rallied in the second half to pull away for a 40-31 victory at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Park Hill South ended the season 23-5 and qualified for the postseason for only the second time in school history. The game was the last for seven seniors on the roster, including Division I-bound Alecia Westbrook.
The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi pledge had four points in her final game, all off free throws. She was doubled teamed the entire game by the Hornets’ defense, limiting her looks.
“She finished with eight school records,” Park Hill South coach Josh Dorr said. “She is a great player and helped lead the way for the past three years. If there is an award, she has been nominated or has gotten it. She is one of the top players in the city night in and night out.”
The Panthers got off to a hot start in the first quarter but then the offense struggled from there.
Jaidynn Mason and DQ Guillory hit back-to-back 3s and when Mason scored again, Park Hill South led 12-3 with 3 minutes to go in the first quarter.
NKC rallied a bit behind Kansas-bound Chandler Prater and trailed 14-9 after the first quarter.
Park Hill South went the entire second quarter without a field goal but still maintained the lead at halftime, 17-15. NKC tied the game at 15, but two free throws by Guillory gave the Panthers the lead back.
“I think we fell in love with the jump shot and maybe it was a little fools gold,” Dorr said. “We made a few and after that we missed those same shots and the offense wasn’t working.
“They are a club that will put two on Alecia and make someone else beat them. We had people beating them and that disappeared.”
Ja’mya Powell-Smith hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the third quarter to give the Hornets the lead for the first time. LaJahda Boyland and Kennedy Washington then scored the next two baskets and gave NKC a seven-point lead.
The lone basket by Brooklyn Jones helped the Panthers pull within 25-21 going into the fourth.
Back-to-back baskets by DJ Guillory and Mason, who had a team-high 12 points, helped Park Hill South pull within 31-29 with 2:42 left to play. Boyland scored for NKC to extend the lead, but the Panthers looked to have pulled with 33-31, but Mason was called for a charge to negate the basket.
Westbrook scored the final points for Park Hill South, getting a pair of free throws with 9.7 seconds left, which cut the deficit to 38-31.
North Kansas City (27-2) earned a spot in the state semifinals with a 45-40 win against Lee’s Summit West in the quarterfinals on Saturday.