By Chris Geinosky I Photo by Todd Nugent
INDEPENDENCE, MO – A pair of regular-season games between the Smithville and Raytown South girls basketball teams turned out to be extremely competitive.
The rubber match was anything but that. Smithville scored the first 14 points of the game en route to a 57-38 blowout in the Class 5 quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.
“I’m just so proud,” Smithville head coach Trevor Mosby said. “It’s so hard to do what they’ve done. We’ve just peaked at the right time. We’re not the same team compared to three months ago.”
A club that entered the season with only one full-time returning starter, the Warriors knew it could take some time to bring this year’s team together. That belief was only confirmed when Smithville suffered a four-game losing streak in December that left the Warriors standing with a 5-5 overall record.
That’s a distant memory now. Smithville (21-8) has won 16 of its last 19 games, including nine in a row, after winning the Suburban Kansas City Blue Conference title and dispatching league rival Raytown South (22-6) in a playoff game that was far more lopsided than the final score would indicate.
Behind a nearly flawless performance at both ends of the court, the Warriors completely dominated a quarterfinal contest in a fashion that no one could have predicted. Smithville raced out to a 21-4 lead in the first quarter and led 33-14 at halftime.
When Raytown South didn’t score in the first six minutes of the second half and mustered only three points in the entire third quarter, the Cardinals trailed 47-17 and started the final stanza with the mercy-rule running clock in effect.
“I can’t say enough about the way we played on the defensive end,” Mosby said. “They’re so good offensively. They can really drive the ball to the basket, and then they can hit 3s. They’re really hard to defend. Our main focus was to rotate and be ready to help, and the girls did a great job.”
Smithville led by 29 points, 52-23, with 4:14 left in the contest. Raytown South, which scored more points in the fourth quarter (21) than the first three combined (17), tightened up the final margin, but that was only cosmetic.
When the two teams played the defacto conference championship game four weeks ago – a 54-44 Smithville victory – senior guard Kenzie Moes connected on seven 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 21 points. The Cardinals spent so much time focusing on Moes in this most recent matchup, that it left her teammates wide open, many times for uncontested layups.
Sophomore guard Rylee Thompson was the biggest benefactor as she finished with a game-high 19 points. Senior forward Kali Brown controlled the paint and added 13 points. Nine other Warriors chipped in between two and five points to round out a full team effort offensively.
Senior Jacole Johnson led Raytown South with 18 points, and junior Jiyani Thompson added 14 as the pair combined for 32 of the team’s 38 points.
Smithville heads back to the state final four for the first time since a three-year run in 2011 (second place), 2012 (second) and 2013 (third). But this year’s team is in a completely different place than those experienced squads.
“That’s exactly right, and I like it,” Mosby said. “We weren’t supposed to be here. We’re playing with house money. There’s no pressure on us. We can just go out there, play loose, and see what we can do.”
Blue Springs South 47, St. Joseph Central 37
It’s been a special season for the Jaguars. And it’s not quite over yet.
Blue Springs South has captured the Suburban Kansas City Gold Conference championship for the first time in school history. The Jags have set a single-season record for victories. Now they are heading to the Show-Me Showdown for the first time in program history.
Blue Springs South (25-4), the No. 11 SBLive Missouri Top 25 girls basketball rankings, never trailed during a 47-37 Class 6 quarterfinal victory against St. Joseph Central. The only tie of the game came at 2-2, and then Jaguars never looked back.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Blue Springs South head coach Kory Lower said. “Thinking about how these girls made school history makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I’m just so excited for them. My wheels are already turning thinking about what we need to do to get ready for the next one, but I’m trying to enjoy this right now. I’m just so proud of them. They worked so hard to get here.”
Thanks to hot 3-point shooting, Blue Springs South led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter and doubled up St. Joseph Central (20-8), 30-15, at the half. The Indians were able to pull within nine points twice in the second half – 32-23 in the third quarter and 43-34 with 2:32 left in the game – but never could make a serious run to put the game in doubt.
Three players scored double figures for the Jaguars. Senior guards Jaidynn Mason (15) and Saneea Bevley (14) controlled tempo of the game throughout, while sophomore post Kendall Puryear added 12 points in the paint.
Junior Charlize Broaden (13) and senior Ella Moody (12) paced Central. The duo kept the Indians in the game, scoring 24 of the team’s first 26 points until they finally received some scoring help in the game’s final four minutes.