KANSAS CITY, Mo — Park Hill forced some key turnovers down the stretch of the second quarter to take command against Park Hill South, and more of the same followed in the second half with the Trojans pulling away for a 62-45 win Friday, Feb. 12 at Park Hill High School.
Park Hill South led twice early in the second quarter but couldn’t fend off the regular season sweep in the rivalry series.
“Pressure was our main focus tonight,” Park Hill senior guard Amanda Alexander said. “We didn’t want to play too far off so playing pressure defense definitely helped us. It’s helped a lot it’s given us more of a controlling factor during games.”
Park Hill forced 25 turnovers including three inside the first two minutes of the third quarter. The giveaways led to a 5-0 run that pushed a 26-19 halftime advantage to double digits. The run eventually swelled to 14-4, and the Panthers were never within 10 again.
In the first Suburban Conference Red Division matchup for the two teams, Park Hill won 38-26, but this time upped the offense to go with the solid defense.
“It’s more about us,” Park Hill coach Aaron Neeser said. “We’re trying to put a little more pressure on teams and make them make decisions under duress versus just sitting back and letting them run their offense. It helps us a lot. Hopefully, they get to build off of it.”
Park Hill junior guard Alex Berger scored a team-high 16 points, while Alexander finished with 12 points. Gigi Hopkins, a junior guard, also reached double figures with 10.
A Class 5 playoff qualifier last year, Park Hill has yet to win more than two straight at any point this season, a streak which held when the Trojans lost Monday to Liberty. They have received solid contributions from a lot of the lineup but haven’t always received them consistently.
“We have three girls averaging nine points a game,” Neeser said. “We don’t have a superstar. We have to do it together. When we do it together, these kinds of things happen where multiple girls have opportunities to score.”
Park Hill South standout freshman forward Alecia Westbrook tallied a game-high 22 points and 18 rebounds. No other player scored more than five for the Panthers with sophomore guard Dymeria Guillory and junior guards Grace Cunningham and Emily Dinovo each reaching that mark.
Liberty 61, Park Hill 54
A 10-0 run for the Blue Jays buried Park Hill on Monday, Feb. 15 in Liberty, Mo.
Berger hit five 3s on her way to a team-high 16 points, but the Trojans led by just one point entering the fourth quarter. The lead increased to 44-41 before Liberty ripped off 10 unanswered to take control.
Berger’s final 3 trimmed the deficit to 54-51 with 1 minutes, 26 seconds remaining, only for Liberty to pull away again.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Park Hill (10-12, 4-3 Red Division), which could’ve moved into a tie with Liberty for second in the conference standings. The Trojans host St. Joseph Central on Thursday, Feb. 18 with a chance to knock off one of the league’s co-leaders.
St. Joseph Central 53, Park Hill South 47
The Panthers nearly pulled off an upset of the Red Division co-leaders but faded down the stretch.
Leading 38-35 entering the fourth quarter, Park Hill South only managed nine more points the rest of the way. Central closed on an 11-1 run to stay tied with Liberty atop the league standings. Raquel Reid finished with a game-high 19 points in the loss for the Panthers.
Park Hill South has now lost five straight, three in a row in Red Division play, and owns a 10-11 record (2-5 league) entering a Thursday, Feb. 18 matchup with Ruskin.