Don’t expect any wins to come easy for Platte County at this point in the season.
Already minus one key starter, the Pirates were without senior guard Ava White for most of a Thursday, Feb. 9 matchup with Grandview at Platte County High School. White admitted to suffering knee pain for about a week after coach Chris Stubbs noticed her limping during the first quarter.
Platte County ended up using 11 players on the night and still came up with a 56-52 victory, avenging a prior frustrating loss to the Bulldogs despite leading scorer Jaycie Stubbs being limited to just four points. The Pirates made 3 of 6 free throws in the final minute to hold on in a contentious Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup.
“Late in the season, it’s hard to keep persevering through these conference games,” said Platte County senior Amy Lett, who hit one of the free throws late and finished with two points. “This game was a big game, and we needed this win to push us through the rest of the season.”
Platte County at least momentarily went back above .500 despite guesswork combinations.
Prior to the previous matchup with Grandview in late January, junior guard Rockey Chambers left Platte County’s team, and the Bulldogs pulled out a 38-36 win on 6-foot-2 center Nataya Partee’s shot at the buzzer. This time around, the team’s put on an offensive display in a wild second quarter that left Grandview with a slim halftime lead, and Partee eventually fouled out late — minutes after officials didn’t see her appear to intentionally kick Platte County senior Liz Peterson in the head.
Platte County sophomore Hannah Valentine led the Pirates with 11 points after being recently reinserted into the starting lineup. Janessa Barmann, another sophomore, added 10 points off the bench — all but two in the first half — while fellow sophomore Taylor Farr ended up with nine (seven in the second half) to add to the productions from the reserves.
In all, Platte County received 32 points combined from five bench players, including six for Peterson.
“Leading scorer scores four, and we score 56,” Chris Stubbs said. “This is a big game not just for this year, for these sophomores, but this will help in the future. This was our sophomores growing up a little bit.”
With just three seniors on the roster (White, Peterson and Lett), Platte County continues to hover near the bottom of the Blue Division with the postseason approaching.
The Pirates have not won more than two straight at any point this year and have reshuffled the lineup at various points and might have to do so again depending on the severity of White’s injury. Sporadic quality of play has been an issue and continued in the early part of the game vs. Grandview.
Add in White’s absence, and Chris Stubbs didn’t hesitate to use substitutions early and often. Jaycie Stubbs even started the second half on the bench.
“Right now, it’s guts,” Chris Stubbs said. “I’m just looking at who is going to go out and give us the most energy and play hard. It’s great for them. It’s a fun style of basketball. It kind of drives me crazy.”
On the opening possession, Platte County missed three shots at the rim before committing turnovers without a shot on the next two trips to the offensive end. Grandview couldn’t take advantage, and the Pirates led most of the first quarter behind a 6-for-7 effort at the line.
Peterson’s bucket on the left block right before the first quarter buzzer made it 13-8 for the Pirates. Grandview answered with a 7-0 run, which included the first of six ties and first of five lead changes in the second quarter.
Aaliyah Chambers hit all four of her 3-pointers in the second quarter for Grandview, including two on back-to-back possessions just before halftime. The second shot from the right wing banked in high off the glass from the right wing to help Grandview erase a 28-25 deficit and go into halftime up 31-28.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Lett said. “We always have to regroup at halftime, and we know this team is going to come out of half and come out fighting.”
Aaliyah Chambers (19 points), Krislynn Byrd (15 points) and Partee (13 points) did almost all of the scoring for Grandview but also helped the Bulldogs unravel.
During the second quarter, Chambers picked up a technical foul for slamming the ball down in frustration after a turnover, while Partee’s antics while guarding and being guarded by Peterson upped the tension level in the second half. Grandview’s lead never got to more than five, and a 9-1 run for the Pirates in the third quarter put them up for good.
Platte County never went ahead double digits, but Valentine’s shot in the lane midway through the fourth quarter put the Pirates up 53-44.
Grandview closed back to within 55-52 with 32.0 seconds left on a bucket for Chante Crusoe, and Farr split a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to reestablish a two-possession lead. The Bulldogs’ desperation shots on their final possession were way off the mark, and Partee picked up an intentional foul for her fifth, fouling out with 2.1 seconds left on a call that left Grandview coach Shannon Moore admonishing the referees.
Peterson, shoved down on Partee’s fifth foul after having taken a kick from her earlier in the game, missed the final two free throws, but Platte County held on anyway for a much-needed win.
“Things got a little heated,” Lett said. “It’s hard to keep your composure like that. When you see them treating your team like that, it’s hard.”
Kearney 57, Platte County 29
The Pirates dropped back to .500 with a loss Monday, Feb. 13 at Platte County High School.
The Blue Division leaders swept the season series after a hot start, pulling away with a big third quarter. Valentine led Platte County with 14 points, but the Pirates made just eight shots from the field total, dropping to 3-5 in league play.
At 11-11 overall, Platte County drew the No. 4 seed for the upcoming Class 4 District 15 tournament. The Pirates will open with Excelsior Springs (1-21) on Monday, Feb. 27 in Excelsior Springs, Mo. with the winner advancing to play top-seeded St. Pius X later in the week.
Platte County last won a district game in 2010-11 when the Pirates won a semifinal against St. Joseph Benton to reach the Class 4 District 16 title game.