KEARNEY, Mo. — The final minute of the season’s first meeting between Platte County and Kearney featured plenty of dramatics.
No moment stood out more than when three officials huddled at midcourt with the scoreboard showing Kearney up two and no time left on the clock. Eventually, they added three-tenths of a second for free throw attempts for both teams and then one final desperation chance for Platte County.
An inbounds play didn’t work, and Kearney held on for a 58-57 victory Friday, Jan. 5 at Kearney High School.
Platte County coach Rick Hodge saw one of his players get shoved after a scrum for a rebound as the clock appeared to expire. He expected his team to go the free throw line on a technical foul call, and he was half right.
Kearney did end up with a bench technical, but Platte County was called for a loose ball foul on the rebound.
“The horn went off and they started to celebrate and come off the floor a little,” Hodge said. “I saw the shove, but I didn’t see the initial foul or I didn’t hear the whistle on the initial foul. I did see the shove and then I was looking at the official and I saw them ‘T’ him up and they came over and explained everything.”
The officials put .03 of a second on the clock, and Kearney’s Jake Hoffman missed his first free throw but made his second, making it a 58-55 lead for the Bulldogs.
Platte County senior guard Deiondre Ragsdale then went to the line to shoot the free throws for the technical foul and made both, making 58-57. He then went to the sideline to throw in the ball, but Hoffman intercepted the long heave toward the bucket and 6-foot-4 senior forward John Watts.
“It was pretty crazy for the refs to come over and tell us what was going on,” said Kirk Stegeman, Kearney coach and former player for Platte County under Hodge. “I didn’t see our kids push and shove someone. You got to be smart all the way through the game. We talk about composure and the atmosphere was great for Platte County and Kearney.
“I’m glad we can get out of here with a win. I know when we go there, it will be a battle.”
Platte County lost its fourth straight after seeing a late lead dwindle away. Kearney continued its dominance against its chief rival, having beaten the Pirates four times a year ago — twice in Suburban Conference Blue Division play, once in Kearney’s Bulldog Classic title game and once in the Class 4 District 15 title game.
Ragsdale, who scored a team-high 15 points, put Platte County up six with 7:02 left in regulation, but the first three baskets of the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs were 3-pointers. The second by Grant Frizzell gave Kearney a 47-46 lead — the first lead for the home team since the first quarter.
“They are a good shooting team, they really are, and I thought we guarded the arc well,” Hodge said. “There was a switch up top we missed. We missed an assignment and that happens. We lost a couple of shooters a couple of times and they made us pay.”
Watts hit a jumper with 4:06 left to give Platte County the lead back, but a three-point play for Frizzell provided the final lead change. The Pirates pulled within a point three times in the final 3:45 — on a 3-pointer from Ragsdale to make it 54-53, on senior forward Lucas Stanley’s layup with 26 seconds to go and on the technical foul free throws late.
Kearney hit only 4 of 8 free throw attempts in the final 3 minutes, allowing the Pirates to stay close. The Bulldogs held the lead the final 3:45 of the fourth and the first 3:11 of the first quarter, but aside from that span of less than 7 minutes, Platte County controlled the contest.
After falling behind 7-2, Platte County reeled off a 11-2 run to take the lead. The Pirates were up 30-24 at halftime after Kearney made a late run to whittle down an 11-point deficit.
Kearney closed within 36-35 late in the third quarter, but Ragsdale scored 10 straight, spanning into the fourth quarter to hold off the initial charge. Ragsdale scored all 15 in the second half but continued to adjust to a restructured roster in the wake of seniors Kobe Cummings and JP Post leaving the team in recent weeks.
“Ragsdale can get hot and the thing I like when he starts to utilizing this drive and he is more than a one-dimensional player,” Hodge said.
Stanley finished with 14 points — 10 in the first half — and Platte County senior guard Nathen Mair added 10. Hoffman’s 19 paced Kearney and led all scorers.
Platte County dropped a fifth straight game with an opening-round loss to William Chrisman, 78-74 in overtime, on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at the Bulldog Classic in Kearney.
The Bears, who were coming off a 1-2 showing in the Joplin Kaminsky Classic last weekend, scored a season-high total in points against the Pirates.
Platte County drops to the consolation side of the bracket and plays at 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, against Smithville or North Kansas City.
Last season, Platte County put together its best stretch of the season in the tournament with an upset of Class 5 playoff qualifier North Kansas City on the way to reaching the title game.
Grandview 78, Platte County 46
The Pirates opened up the Suburban Conference Blue Division play at home on Wednesday, Jan. 3 with a loss at Platte County High School to the No. 4-ranked team in Class 4 in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll.
Grandview went up 17-6 in the first quarter and the scoring picked up for both teams in the second quarter. Lucas Stanley scored eight of his 11 points for the Pirates, who had 18 in the second quarter. Grandview tallied 22 — 11 from Deandre Sorrells — to take a 38-25 lead at the break.
Deiondre Ragsdale scored 12 to lead Platte County’s offense, while Stanley finished with 11.
Sorrells finished with a game-high 15 for the Bulldogs.