SAVANNAH, Mo. — For more than 30 seconds, Platte County sat down on defense before forcing a turnover late in the second quarter of the Savannah Invitational championship game. Kobe Cummings, a senior guard, came up with the steal and raced in for a late layup, putting the Pirates seemingly in control with a 20-point lead at halftime against Chillicothe.
“At that moment, I think we got a little too relaxed,” Cummings said.
Chillicothe fought all the way back Saturday, Dec. 2 at Savannah High School, but Platte County never trailed. A split of two free throws for senior forward Lucas Stanley ended up the difference for the Pirates in an unnecessarily eventful 50-49 win.
Platte County won the tournament for the first time and took its first tournament title of any kind in about a decade. After the game, Pirates coach Rick Hodge addressed the players for a lengthy amount of time in the locker room after they scored just 15 points in the second half and missed four free throws late in the fourth quarter.
“We are (going to enjoy it) because it’s been a while,” Hodge said despite the frustrations. “It’s been a while since we’ve won a tournament. These kids, they earned it. They deserve it. Things went very well for us in the first half, but I knew we still had a way to go.
“Chillicothe is that way. The character that they have and the type of kids they have that are extremely well-coached, I knew it wouldn’t be that easy in the second half, and we had our hands full.”
After Stanley hit the front end of the one-and-one with 20-7 seconds left, Chillicothe came down the floor down 50-48. Walker Graves air-balled a 3-point attempt, but sophomore Westley Brandsgaard grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul.
Brandsgaard, who finished with a team-high 15 points, made the first but missed the second.
Platte County allowed an offensive rebound for the third time in the final minute, but Chillicothe’s putback attempt with no time left was well off the mark. The Pirates upped their record to 3-0 in an important start for a program looking to take another step forward.
“A win’s a win,” Cummings said.
Platte County looked in control early.
Deiondre Ragsdale and Stanley both hit 3s to start an early 14-4 run, forcing a timeout from Chillicothe with 4:38 left in the first quarter. The Hornets closed on a 6-2 run, but Ragsdale, a senior guard who scored 66 points in the first two games of the tournament, finished with 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Cummings’ steal and layup pushed the advantage back to 26-15.
Platte County senior forward John Watts, a senior forward, added to a quick 6-0 run with a hook shot, and Cummings drew a charge on the other end. The Pirates ended up scoring 11 unanswered to close the half with a big assist to the best defensive showing of the young season.
“At halftime, coach came in said Chillicothe’s a team that’s not going to give up,” Cummings said. “I think when we came out we kind of thought they would give up, and they definitely gave us a fight.”
After managing just five points in the second quarter, Brandsgaard scored the first five of the third quarter to start an 11-2 run.
Cummings, who finished with 12 points, continued to provide a spark with another steal that led to a layup for senior guard Nathen Mair to halt the initial surge. The Hornets ended up slicing the deficit in half in the third quarter then closed within 41-34 after Jonathan Burk drilled a 3 at the buzzer.
The last bucket for Ragsdale and two free throws for Cummings briefly reestablished a double-digit lead for Platte County, but the Pirates managed just five points the rest of the way. Chillicothe hit three 3s on consecutive possessions with the final one from CJ Pfaff tying the score at 47-47 with 2:28 left.
“Of course we are (thinking when we’re in trouble). We always think we are when they start going on a roll like that,” Hodge said. “But this early in the season, what you’re watching is the body language of the kids: ‘Are we able to handle this?’ Because we’re still early in the season so we’re trying to evaluate.”
Watts finally answered with a tip-in of Cummings’ short miss, drawing a foul on the play. He missed the free throw, and Chillicothe drew a foul of its own on the rebound.
Graves split two free throws, and Chillicothe couldn’t take advantage of a dead ball offensive rebound after the miss. Mair missed a pair of free throws for Platte County to keep the lead at 49-48, but the senior point guard’s steal ended Chillicothe’s next possession and led to Stanley’s trip to the line.
Platte County was scheduled to continue play Tuesday, Dec. 5 against North Kansas City — a 2017 Class 5 playoff qualifier — on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The result was not available at deadline.
Platte County 80, Maryville 70
Five players scored in double figures for the Pirates on Thursday, Nov. 30, ensuring a sweep of pool play games.
Ragsdale scored all 23 of his points in the first half — 14 in the second quarter — to help stake Platte County to a 42-30 lead at the break. Stanley (13 points), Mair (12 points), Cummings (11 points) and Watts (11 points) all had strong second halves for the Pirates, who hit 18 of 27 free throws to maintain the lead late.