KEARNEY, Mo. – Truman’s first district girls basketball title since the 2008-09 has left the Patriots wanting more.
The Patriots ended their title drought by defeating Kearney 51-43 in Friday night’s Class 5 District 14 title game in a packed, raucous Kearney High School gym. Senior Rebecca Jonas poured in 28 points to lead Truman and was the only Patriot in double figures. Unofficially, she also grabbed 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double to avenge last year’s loss to Kearney, th Patriots’ only loss of the season.
"It is a big win,” Jonas said. “They’re a great team. But we’re not done.”
The Patriots (25-1) will continue their quest for a state title when they play Lee’s Summit North at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Class 5 sectionals at the Independence Events Center. North defeated Blue Springs 44-30 Friday for the District 13 title.
Senior Ashley McKinney, whose five fourth-quarter points helped Truman stifle Kearney’s attempts at a comeback, said the Patriots are focusing on the postseason “one game at a time.”
“That’s pretty much … (what) our motto is every game,” McKinney said.
The Patriots will start focusing on their next game Saturday.
“It might sound cliché, but it really is true: You can’t get caught up in thinking … (that) a big win like this is the highlight of your season,” Patriots coach Steve Cassity said. “We’re hoping to move forward in the tournament, so … (we) have to get focused on the next opponent.”
The Bulldogs, who spoiled Truman’s bid for an undefeated season by defeating Truman in the 2013 Class 5 District 15 final, finished 24-3. For Kearney coach Troy Resler, losing five seniors seemed to hurt worse than losing on the court. When asked about next season, in fact, he could only think about losing Allie Hess, Jessi Hartzler, Chandler Gallagher, Laura Barrow and Meagan Paul, who paced Kearney with 15 points.
“They’re special,” Resler said. “I really can’t talk about them right now without getting emotional, so that kind of tells you how (I feel about them). I’d do anything for them.”
The bond Resler has with his seniors is “something that’s beyond basketball,” he said.
“I’ll stay in touch with them as the years go by,” Resler guaranteed. “I have no doubt about that.”
The game that fueled Truman’s desire and broke Resler’s heart was close overall. Kearney led 7-6 after a seesaw first quarter. Taylor Doan, who finished with 10 points, made one of two free throws with 1.7 seconds left to give the Bulldogs their one-point lead. Jonas accounted for all of Truman’s first-quarter points.
Paced by Jonas’ nine second-quarter points, Truman led 21-17 at halftime. Truman led 36-31 entering the fourth quarter, paced by Jonas’ nine third-quarter points. The Patriots outscored Kearney 15-12 the final quarter – thus guaranteeing Truman at least one more game.