Westbrook's free throws cap rally back for South against Staley

RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South dug another hole to climb out of in a matchup with Staley.

The slow starts have become common during an otherwise solid start to the season. Alecia Westbrook kept the Panthers’ winning streak alive, hitting the second of two free throws with just 1 second on the clock Friday, Dec. 15 at Park Hill South High School.

 BRYCE MERENESS/Special to The Citizen Park Hill South junior Alecia Westbrook, front, looks for space under the rim in a game against Staley on Friday, Dec. 15 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. 

BRYCE MERENESS/Special to The Citizen
Park Hill South junior Alecia Westbrook, front, looks for space under the rim in a game against Staley on Friday, Dec. 15 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. 

As Staley’s desperation half-court heave at the buzzer fell short, Park Hill South celebrated a 41-40 win to continue an unbeaten season.

“That’s how we’ve started four games now,” Park Hill South coach Josh Dorr said. “All four games we’ve started slow. I don’t know what it is, but we seem to come out flat in the first quarter. Every game we’ve dug a hole like that and had to come back. Usually, it’s about the middle of the second quarter our energy picks up.”

Park Hill South again needed the second quarter run after falling behind 14-2.

Westbrook scored the Panthers first field goal late in the first quarter to start what became a 17-4 run to give the Panthers their first lead of the game midway through the third quarter. The 15-minute stretch of defense provided the opportunity for the Panthers to claw back into the contest.

“We did put on the press to try and pick up the energy and create the energy artificially,” Dorr said. “We are a good defensive team. That’s one of our hallmarks. It was a good effort by the girls. I don’t think it was any kind of strategy really.”

Despite the big run over the second and third quarters, Park Hill South trailed 25-23 entering the final 8 minutes.

After surrendering the first basket of the first quarter, another run — this time a 7-0 run surge — gave the Panthers the lead back before a see-saw battle at the free throw line late. Raquel Reid scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter with four coming at the line.

Westbrook did most of the work, scoring a game-high 23 points to go with 19 rebounds.

“I don’t think she has even come in after a game and asked how many points she has had,” Dorr said. “Against (William Chrisman to start the year), she was in foul trouble. She only shot the ball four times. Her first comment to me after the game was, ‘Coach, I only had four rebounds.’ But tonight, 23 points and 19 rebounds is pretty impressive.”

Only five players scored for Park Hill South with De’Jaria Guillory (seven) and DeQuaria Guillory (four) the only others with multiple baskets. Fittingly, Westbrook drew the late shooting foul in a tie game with a chance to keep Park Hill South undefeated.

After missing the first, Westbrook made the second to set up Staley’s final desperation shot.

 “Coach just told me to focus,” Westbrook said of the final attempt after a timeout by Staley to ice the shooter. “He knew I was going to make it. I just had to focus, not worry about the Rage Cage, not worry about the crowd, just focus on the free throw.”

Park Hill South 64, Fort Osage 44

The Panthers made it five straight wins, pulling away with a strong third quarter Monday, Dec. 18 in Independence, Mo.

Up just four at halftime, Park Hill South scored 24 in the next eight minutes, including 10 of DeQuaria Guillory’s team-high 16 points. Kate Eischens and Emma Beuerlein also hit 3s during the surge, and Fort Osage couldn’t come up with an answer.

De’Jaria Guillory (12 points) and Reid (11 points) also ended up in double-figure scoring with nine players scoring total for Park Hill South, which entered a Wednesday, Dec. 20 rivalry game with Park Hill at 5-0 overall.

Platte County 66, Ruskin 57

Hannah Valentine scored a career-high 26 points, and the Pirates went into the holiday break after a win Monday, Dec. 18 at Platte County High School.

With five steals helping create her offense, Valentine shot 8 of 22 from the floor and 10 of 14 on free throws while dishing out five assists. Eight players scored for the Pirates, but no one else hit double figures. Rockey Chambers finished with eight points, while Stephanie Carroll hit three 3s to total nine off the bench.

Down after the first quarter, Platte County fought back to lead at halftime and pulled away late in the third quarter and early fourth quarter. The Pirates were 16 of 23 overall on free throws, while Ruskin attempted just 11.

Platte County (5-4) jumped back over .500 and carried a two-game winning streak into a Wednesday, Dec. 20 game at Grain Valley. The holiday break then lasts until Jan. 4.

Lee’s Summit West 47, Park Hill 33

The Trojans dropped their Suburban Conference Gold Division opener Thursday, Dec. 14 in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

After a slow start, Park Hill trailed 28-20 at halftime and then scored only 13 points in the second half. The Trojans shot just 29.7 percent from the field and missed 10 free throws in the loss.

Shelby led the way for Park Hill with 10 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, while freshman Hannah Graves added nine.