GOWER, Mo. — West Platte ended up in a position to fade down the stretch.
Not this time around, not in this new era of basketball. Playing in the third-place game of the KCI Conference Tournament, the Bluejays went ahead on a pair of free throws for freshman Faith Stevens and pulled away late for a 55-49 win against traditional league power Lawson on Thursday, Dec. 8 at East Buchanan High School.
West Platte won twice in the tournament a year after finishing sixth with the first win in the event since 2006. The Bluejays doubled that win total this season, having upset North Platte in the opening round for the first win against their rival in 16 years.
“Third place doesn’t seem like much, but for us it is,” West Platte coach Jen Lawson said. “I think just being in the championship bracket means a lot to the girls.”
The overtime win against North Platte vaulted West Platte into the semifinals, but the Bluejays lost to eventual champion Mid-Buchanan, which won the tournament for a second straight year.
West Platte and Lawson played tight throughout the third-place matchup with the Bluejays up 25-21 at halftime. The Cardinals battled back and went ahead 49-48 with about a minute and a half to play.
Stevens’ two free throws helped her finish with eight points and gave West Platte the lead for good. The Bluejays made free throws down the stretch to close out the win historic win.
Hannah McGivern, a sophomore guard, led West Platte with 16 points, while senior Nealie Niemeier added 14.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, and we made a lot of mistakes still,” Lawson said. “But I think they just try hard and don’t give up so it means a lot.”
West Platte 50, KC Lutheran 40
The Bluejays improved to 4-2 on the season with a win Monday, Dec. 12 in Weston, Mo.
Lea Moose, a sophomore guard, scored 10 of her team-high 16 points for West Platte in the first half, while Niemeier poured in all 14 of her points in the second half. The Bluejays pulled away with a strong third quarter with its high-scoring duo 14 of the 18 points during that 8 minute span.
West Platte is scheduled to play back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday vs. Hogan Prep and at Plattsburg before the Christmas break. The matchup with Plattsburg will be the KCI Conference regular season opener.
KC Lutheran 57, West Platte 35
The Bluejays hit five 3-pointers to stay close Monday, Dec. 12 in Weston, Mo. but couldn’t end its losing streak.
Nick Miller hit a pair of treys in the second quarter and finished with a team-high 10 points for West Platte, which dropped to 1-5 overall with a fourth straight loss. Eight different players were in the scoring column for the Bluejays, continuing a trend of balanced efforts with no clear-cut go-to scorer.
Jonah Vandel put up seven points, while Noah Johnson and Phillip Pattison had five apiece.