Platte County’s Jaycie Stubbs and Park Hill South’s Alecia Westbrook each appeared to have key points that would lead to a Team Missouri victory.
In the end, Team Kansas came up with all the clutch 3-pointers needed to win the DiRenna All-Star Game Friday, April 12 at Shawnee Mission South High School. Stubbs hit a pair of key free throws late in regulation before the game ended up in overtime. Westbrook’s putback in the extra session put Missouri up four only for the game to end up in a “sudden death” overtime period.
Kansas hit a third straight 3 — this one on the opening possession of the second overtime — to steal a dramatic 76-73 walkoff win in the senior showcase.
“After I put it in, I was like, ‘This is ours. We’ve got this,’ but things happen,” said Westbrook, who finished with four points, five rebounds, a block and an assist in her next to last game representing Park Hill South.
Still, both Westbrook and Stubbs enjoyed the experience of the all-star week, which included an awards ceremony the night before.
“It was really surprising to me (to be chosen),” said Stubbs, who had two points in the loss. “Just to be on a team with such good players — people I’ve played with and against — was really awesome.”
Kansas shots lights out from the outside throughout the game.
Missouri trailed from the outset, but Westbrook entered as part of a third line in the first quarter and contributed a putback basket to start a 6-0 run late in the first quarter. Kansas led 16-13 after the first quarter and 27-24 at halftime.
“It was different (coming off the bench), but I just had to play my part and do what I can do,” said Westbrook, a four-year starter at Park Hill South during a rejuvenating period for the program.
Stubbs went 0-for-2 on 3-point attempts in the first half as part of the first set of substitutes.
“I knew it was my position on the team to shoot 3s,” said Stubbs, a four-year starter at Platte County who helped the Pirates to a winning record each of the past two seasons. “My teammates and coaches told me to keep shooting, and that’s what I did.”
Missouri tied it 38-38 late in the third quarter but wouldn’t lead until the fourth quarter. Mill Valley’s Claire Kaifes beat the third quarter buzzer with a 3 to put Kansas up three — the same lead held after each of the first three quarters.
North Kansas City’s Chandler Prater — the two-time DiRenna Award winner as the metro’s top player — hit a layup to put Missouri up 45-44 amid a string of three consecutive 3s for Kansas in the fourth quarter. The outside shooting helped the Jayhawkers keep pace, but Stubbs’ two free throws with 5 ½ minutes left in regulation made it 59-56 for Missouri and seemingly set up the Show-Me State to pull away.
“That’s always been my position on the team — to knock down free throws,” Stubbs said. “I was comfortable doing it. I was a little nervous but tried not to think about it.”
Missouri led by five in the final minute before a bizarre five-point possession — a basket and a foul plus a missed free throw, offensive rebound and 3-pointer — tied the score at 67-67. Both teams then missed potential game winners.
In the 2-minute overtime, Missouri jumped to a 71-67 lead after Westbrook’s second putback basket of the night. Kansas hit two more 3s, including one from game MVP Johnni Gonzalez of Bishop Miege to tie it at the buzzer.
The officials announced the next basket would win in the following overtime. Kansas won the tip, and Sarah Beth Gueldner of Olathe Northwest drained a 3-pointer to end the exhibition.
“It was really cool to represent Platte County, but I wish we would’ve gotten a ‘dub,’” Stubbs said.
Westbrook was a finalist for the DiRenna Award for a second straight year after leading Park Hill South to its second ever playoff appearance, which ended with a loss in Class 5 sectionals. She will now move on to a collegiate career at Division I Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“It was so cool,” she said. “It was fun.”