SAVANNAH, Mo. — On Platte County’s opening possession, Deiondre Ragsdale splashed in a 3-pointer and ended up with a four-point play. On the second, the senior guard banked in another 3.
The fast start helped Ragsdale turn an otherwise nondescript season-opener into a record-setting performance. He scored 30 points in the opening 8 minutes and put up a career-high 43 in what became an 89-55 runaway win for the Pirates in a Savannah Invitational pool play matchup with Savannah on Monday, Dec. 1 at Savannah High School.
Ragsdale’s 30 points in a quarter set a state record, according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association. He surpassed the 29 points Jamestown’s Josh Ennis scored against Higbee in the fourth quarter of a January 29, 2005 game — the previous mark listed in the state record book.
No player in Missouri high school history ever experienced a start to a season quite like Ragsdale’s.
“My teammates did a good job of finding me,” Ragsdale said. “I was hot so I just kept shooting. I knew I was capable of it, but I didn’t think it would come right now. I just hope I can continue to have the same type of performance throughout the season.”
Within seconds of the opening tip, Ragsdale found himself on his back, pumping his fist after watching his first shot attempt go in. He shrugged ever so slightly after the unintended bank shot 3 moments later that gave Platte County a 7-2 lead.
Ragsdale ended up making six 3-pointers in the quarter plus a traditional three-point play. The Pirates were up 12-4 after just more than a minute with Ragsdale scoring 10 of the points in what became a frenetic start.
“I was thinking I was a little hot,” Ragsdale said, “but I didn’t want to just start jacking up shots. I wanted to let the offense come to me and take what the defense was giving us.”
With three returning starters, Platte County opened in an up-tempo press defense and created havoc against an inexperienced lineup.
Savannah attempted to sit back in a 2-3 zone but couldn’t contain Ragsdale’s scoring. The Pirates led 34-23 after the first quarter and were up double digits almost the entire game but still showed some inefficiencies with seniors Kobe Cummings (eight points) and John Watts (six points) in the starting lineup but short on practice time due to a lengthy playoff run in football season.
Ragsdale sat the final seconds of the first quarter and cooled off in the second.
Platte County started to run a lengthy list of players into the game as fouls piled up on both teams. There were 17 total called in the first quarter, leading to a choppy finish to the opening half.
“It was (the plan) with Savannah because when they pack in that 2-3 zone, you have to get points how you can get them,” Platte County coach Rick Hodge said. “We got them from forcing some turnovers and got it from picking up full court, and if you’re going to do that, you better be rotating kids through.
“I think this group does want to play a little more up tempo with the pressure, full court. We’ll probably toy with that some.”
Watts, a 6-foot-4 forward, grabbed a steal and raced in for a high-rising two-handed dunk early in the second quarter but received a technical foul — called for hanging on the rim. Brady Wright and Nathen Mair hit 3s before halftime to help keep the Pirates at a distance, and they went into the break up 50-39.
Ragsdale scored 11 more for Platte County in the third quarter, finishing 15 of 18 on free throws overall — the only three misses coming when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt near the second half buzzer. The Pirates attempted 26 shots at the line total, while Savannah went 10-for-30.
“I told the kids, ‘You get that when you get on a bus and head north,’” Hodge said. “It’s good for early season because it forces them to work on staying in a stance, cut your man off, play defense with your feet and your chest and all the things we preach to them. They always call it that way early in the season.”
Platte County’s lead hit 21 three times late in the third quarter with junior reserve guard Dawson Wood knocking in a 3-pointer and Wright, another junior reserve, scoring the last of his nine points on a short jumper.
Mair, a senior making his first career start, finished with seven points and three steals — the last leading to a runout layup to make it 84-53 and start the running clock 4 minutes left.
With senior guard JP Post out due to injury, Mair and senior Lucas Stanley rounded out Platte County’s starting lineup around the three returning senior starters.
“(Mair’s) playing with a lot of poise for his first start, and Dawson’s getting some minutes at the point guard spot with JP out,” Hodge said. “Those two play hard, and they’re going to battle and get us into what we want to get into. Yeah, they were both good.”
Stanley, a bruising 6-foot-4 forward, showed flashes of scoring potential early last season but ended up ineligible for the second half of the season. He scored eight in his first game back with the Pirates.
With a few unknowns and other players rounding back into shape, Ragsdale took the unquestioned lead in the opener. He didn’t play any varsity minutes as a freshman or sophomore but averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game in a breakout junior season.
Ragsdale came up just short of the school record for points in a game Stan George set with 51 in a 1960 game, but there will be bigger challenges ahead.
“Ragsdale’s a scorer. He can score,” Hodge said. “There’s other areas that we’re really working with him on that he’s got to improve to be an all-around player. He’s starting to do a better job in transition and finishing in transition.
“He’s a talent, and he’s a scorer.”
Platte County continues pool play in the Savannah Invitational on Thursday, Dec. 30 against Maryville. The Pirates will almost assuredly play in either the third-place or championship game on Saturday afternoon, looking to win the tournament for the first time.