SMITHVILLE, Mo. — When another potential excuse emerged, Platte County’s players opted to forge ahead and try to overcome again.
Pirates coach Chris Stubbs told his team of the impending absence of senior forward Rachel Holden the day before the Pirates’ Class 4 District 16 first-round round game. She ended up missing her final game after three separate injuries claimed most of her final season.
With Holden not in attendance, Platte County hung close but ultimately saw the season end with a 63-51 loss to St. Joseph Lafayette on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Smithville High School.
“All season long we’ve been shorthanded,” Stubbs said. “It’s par for the course. I told the girls (Friday) Rachel wasn’t going to be able to play. They were just like, ‘Oh, OK.’ They were ready for the challenge. They have nothing to be disappointed in, nothing to hang their heads about.”
Platte County finished with a 13-12 record, the first winning season since 2010-11.
With only one player not back, the potential win total looked bigger at the start of the season. The Pirates won their first four games, including capturing the Gold Division championship of the Winnetonka Invitational. However, Holden picked up her first serious injury of the season in a semifinal win against Park Hill South, and a torn foot ligament kept her out a month and limited her minutes when she returned.
Shortly after her first comeback, Holden suffered a broken nose in a semifinal of the Oak Park Invitational, an injury that eventually required surgery and a protective mask that further limited playing time and production. Platte County saw four of five starters miss time during January and February, which coincided with a swoon in play.
Platte County closed the regular season with four wins in five games while at full strength to finish tied for second in the Suburban Conference Blue Division, but Holden’s injury in the regular season finale against Grandview shuffled the deck again.
Lafayette’s 6-foot-2 junior forward Ashlyn Dotson torched the Pirates for a career-high 33 points in the first round matchup with Platte County. Liz Peterson, a 5-10 junior, took the brunt of the responsibility on defense without Holden in the normal front court tandem.
In the third quarter, Lafayette took control with a 10-0 run and didn’t trail again. Peterson eventually fouled out with seven points.
“We battled all four quarters,” Stubbs said. “We were definitely at a disadvantage with Dotson. She is a very good player. Liz did a great job. She was undersized. She battled as hard as she could there.”
Platte County hung around in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 49-45 before another 10-0 run from Lafayette left little doubt of the outcome.
Two late 3s from Pirates freshman guard Jaycie Stubbs (16 points) proved to be little more than consolation. She hit three 3-pointers total, including one 30 seconds into the second half to give Platte County a 31-27 lead after Lafayette took a 27-25 lead into the break.
Platte County senior guard Lindsey Bogart, who also scored 16, started the 6-0 run with a three-point play shortly after the referee whistled to begin the half.
Korynne Mathews, the Pirates’ third senior, finished with six points on a pair of first-half 3s. She helped them to a slim 15-14 lead after the first quarter, but Lafayette used three 3s — one from Dotson — to go on an 11-0 run before halftime and take the lead back.
“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Stubbs said. “I appreciate them and all of their hard work, especially the seniors — Rachel, Lindsey and Korynne. I’m very proud they got to go out with a winning season.”
Platte County 56, Grandview 33
The Pirates finished in a tie for second place in the Blue Division standings after earning a split with Grandview on Thursday, Feb. 25 in Platte City.
In the final home game for the three seniors, Platte County jumped to a big lead and buried the visiting Bulldogs, who won the previous meeting 72-47 while the Pirates were dealing with a myriad of injury issues. The other two losses on Platte County’s 7-3 conference ledger were to champion Kearney.
Holden, Bogart and Matthews — Platte County’s three seniors — accounted for 24 points.
Bogart led all scorers with 15 points, going 5-for-10 on 3-point shots. Holden just missed a double-double with 14 points to go with nine rebounds and four blocks.
Platte County led 33-18 at halftime and outscored Grandview in all four quarters. The Pirates closed the regular season with wins in four of their last five games. The lone loss in that stretch was a 44-39 road defeat at Kearney, which won the first matchup between the two by 40 points.