Imani Johnson, the senior forward who broke Lee's Summit North’s all-time scoring record this season, shared a special moment following the Broncos’ 55-53 Class 5 sectional win over Truman Wednesday night at the Independence Events Center.
As she walked off the court, she gave a hug to little sister – well, let's make that younger sister, since Aaliyah stands 6-foot, just like her big sister – who had six points and five rebounds off the bench to play a key role in the victory.
“This was the only season something like this could have happened,” said Imani, who finished with 15 points before fouling out. “She didn’t just sit on the bench and cheer for us, she was a part of the team. A very important part of the team.”
The Broncos had suffered two regular-season losses to the 25-2 Patriots, by one and seven points.
“We knew we could play with them,” Imani said, “but we knew we would have to play our best game. We had a nice lead at the end, and they came back and made it a close game, and I am so proud of my sister and our team. This is a special night.”
There was nothing special about the first quarter as the Patriots held the Broncos to just four points.
“The bad thing was we had four points,” Broncos coach Tricia Lillygren said, “but the good thing was that they only scored nine. It was still a two-possession game, and I knew we would start playing better.”
Aaliyah helped the Broncos claim a second-period lead as she grabbed an offensive board and hit a layup during a 12-3 streak that gave North a 21-18 lead at the half. In the fourth quarter, she grabbed an offensive board and hit a putback and followed with another layup to keep the Patriots at bay.
“I am honestly on top of the world right now,” Aaliyah said. “We worked so hard after the slow start to win this game. We really earned it. We know that Truman is a great team and every girl who played tonight made a contribution.
“And to share it with my sister makes it even better. We still have to get another big win (at 1 p.m. Saturday against North Kansas City at the Independence Events Center), but I am going to enjoy this win tonight with Imani and the rest of our family.”
Truman coach Steve Cassity made a quick exit out of the Patriots locker room and lavished praise on the Broncos.
“We knew we’d have to play a great game to win and we didn’t play that well tonight,” Cassity said. “The Broncos had a lot to do with that – they really played great defense down low and they hit their free throws.
“We missed 13 free throws in the game – there’s the difference. It’s a disappointing way for the season to end, but we want to wish North luck and hope they represent the area at state.”