Defense and energy were key for Platte County to end a four-game losing streak.
Deiondre Ragsdale continued his torrid shooting on the other end to lead the Pirates to a 62-48 win in Suburban Conference Blue Division play Friday, Feb. 17 at Platte County High School. The junior guard finished with 22 points to help pull the season sweep of the Griffins and provide some momentum with the postseason approaching.
Platte County improved to 9-15 overall and 2-7 in Blue Division play entering a Tuesday, Feb. 21 finale vs. Raytown South. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Despite the double-digit victory, Platte County struggled to establish a lead.
The two teams went into halftime tied 29-29 with Winnetonka senior Darius Campbell scoring 17 of his 18 points in the first half. He scored just one after halftime, key to the Pirates pulling away and avoiding a disappointing loss.
“I was very frustrated at the half because of the defensive effort and that was kind of the main point that was made in the locker room at the break,” Platte County coach Rick Hodge said. “The defensive focus, energy was not where it needed to be or had to be.”
Platte County stayed hot from the outside and ended up with 11 3-pointers total.
Ragsdale and senior DeAndre Rollins combined for nine of those with Rollins totaling nine points on his three treys. Kobe Cummings, a junior guard, ended up with 14 points for the Pirates, who entered on a five-game losing streak.
Platte County won the first meeting with the Griffins 54-52, and the defense ended up even better on Friday night, holding them to just 19 points in the second half.
“Going into the second half it was all about defense,” Cummings said. “Our offense, we were producing, and we were doing our thing. It’s just our defense was just giving up too many points and giving second chances.”
Ragsdale totaled 11 of his game-high points in the fourth quarter to help Platte County pull away. He emerged as one of two go-to scorers for the Pirates, along with Cummings forming a solid backcourt tandem.
The second half shooting display continued Ragsdale’s trend of putting up points in bunches, especially from beyond the arc.
“I felt good and hot,” Ragsdale said. “My teammates helped create points for me to take the open shots.”
Platte County earned the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Class 4 District 15 tournament but now faces a long layoff. After the matchup with Raytown South, the Pirates will be off until Friday, March 3 for a semifinal against either Kansas City Northeast or Smithville at 7 p.m. in Excelsior Springs, Mo.
So far this season, Platte County has yet to win more than two in a row at any point but could reach the playoffs with two more wins, one which would likely have to come against top-seeded Kearney — winner of three matchups with the Pirates this season.
Hodge doesn’t think his players will shy away from the challenge.
“They are still playing together,” he said. “They’re still battling, want to compete, having fun together and that’s what you want to see this time of year and I think it showed a little bit more the second half (vs. Winnetonka).”
Although this year’s field includes some new teams, Platte County has lost to Kearney in districts each of the past two years, including a 2015 title game loss in Class 4 District 16.
Kearney 65, Platte County 53
The Pirates lost for the third time this season to Kearney during a Blue Division matchup Tuesday, Feb. 14 in Kearney, Mo.
Ragsdale (22 points) and senior guard Tanner Newberry (12 points) combined for seven 3-pointers, and Platte County only trailed 34-29 at halftime. Dylan Ritz scored 27 points to help Kearney create some separation in the second half.
Kearney, third place in the Blue Division standings, swept the two conference meetings with the Pirates plus the Bulldog Classic title game in Kearney, Mo. last month — all three wins by double digits. The two teams have the top seeds in the upcoming Class 4 District 15 tournament, meaning they could meet a fourth time in the title game.