Platte County went into a Suburban Conference Blue Division rivalry matchup hoping to erase the sting of an opening defeat in league play.
Instead, Kearney buried the Pirates early on the way to a 65-31 win Friday, Jan. 6 at Platte County High School. The offense didn’t work early and didn’t work late with the Bulldogs up 19 after the first quarter and not looking back.
Platte County’s frustrating season continued with four new starters but a promising group of inexperienced juniors showing flashes of potential along the way.
“A lot wasn’t working early and we had a lot of opportunities early that we didn’t cash in on,” Platte County coach Rick Hodge said. “As the rest of the half went along, a lot of emotion came into play as our kids started getting frustrated, and once that occurred, execution was tough, and things kind of snowballed from there.”
Platte County’s frustration showed in not only the lack of offensive production (11 points in the first half) but also in Kearney’s play. The Bulldogs even threw in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to go up 35-11 at the break under first-year coach Kirk Stegeman, a Platte County graduate.
Platte County came into the game off of a loss to Grandview two days earlier in their Blue Division opener.
“I feel like we came out with too hot of heads so our intensity was too high in the beginning,” said Platte County junior guard Kobe Cummings, who finished with six points. “Overthinking is definitely part of it and I think execution, we didn’t execute very good tonight so that didn’t help.”
Deiondre Ragsdale, a junior guard, finished with a team-high eight points off the bench, but Kearney outscored the Pirates in all four victories. The Bulldogs put the 30-point running clock in effect for the second half.
Platte County’s early success has revolved around Cummings and junior forward Lucas Stanley’s production at the rim, coupled with the guard play of DeAndre Rollins and Ragsdale off the bench. None of the four were able to get going consistently against Kearney, although those four and junior forward John Watts combined for all but five of the Pirates’ points.
“We’re still trying to find our identity as a team because we like to run,” said Stanley, who scored four. “We like to get out; we like to push, but we can also run sets too if that’s not there. We’re still just looking for who can do what, who can score, who can pass and who can set good screens.”
Even though Platte County has lost the last two conference games this season, Hodge remains encouraged because of the talent in the Blue Division. The Pirates won their only game in league play in the regular season finale a year ago.
“Grandview and Kearney are good teams,” he said. “They’re very, very good teams, so those are two teams that I believe are going to be at the top of the league so we just have to not really worry so much about that as much as right now. We have to worry about our play and our execution.”
Grandview 65, Platte County 46
The Pirates opened Blue Division play with a loss Wednesday, Jan. 4 in Grandview, Mo., unable to keep pace with the high-scoring Bulldogs.
Grandview expanded a 32-25 halftime lead to double digits, outscoring the Pirate 23-8 in the third quarter. Cummings led Platte County with 12 points, while sophomore guard Ethan Esdohr added eight off the bench with two late 3-pointers.
Platte County hit five 3-pointers total.
Park Hill South 46, Blue Valley North 31
The Panthers pulled away late behind 15 points for Lamel Robinson and 11 for Desi Williams in part of the Best of the Midwest Showcase at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kan.
Entering with losses in four of the previous five games, Park Hill South (9-4) came up with a much-needed win, limiting Blue Valley North to just 10 points in the first half. The Panthers made 15 of 17 free throws, which ended up being a big difference between the two teams.
Blue Valley North went just 11-for-24 at the line and didn’t have any player with more than six points.
Lee’s Summit North 71, Park Hill 63
The Trojans’ unbeaten run to start the season ended in a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Friday, Jan. 6 in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
After trailing much of the first half, Park Hill (11-1, 1-1 Gold Division) fought back to take the lead in the second half after outscoring the Broncos 24-13 in the third quarter. The comeback attempt wilted from there with Lee’s Summit North scoring 24 in the final period to hold on for the win.
Ronnie Bell scored 19 points for Park Hill, which shot only seven free throws total. Ryan Graves added 14 for the Trojans and Dru Smith 13.
St. Joseph Central 46, Park Hill South 43
The Panthers came up short in a Suburban Conference Red Division opener Friday, Jan. 6 in Riverside, Mo.
Two of the expected favorites in the conference met early in the league slate, and the game came down to free throws at the end. Park Hill South led 42-39 with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left but did not make another field goal.
Lamel Robinson finished with 12 points in the loss for the Panthers.