Tuesday’s season opener against North Kansas City is one Truman girls basketball head coach Steve Cassity had circled on his calendar.
It wasn’t just because it was the first game of the season, but it was the one he considered would be the toughest.
His Patriots answered the challenge in the first half, taking a 22-14 lead into halftime, but the lack of ball movement, turnovers and clutch shooting from the Hornets led to a 63-56 loss at North Kansas City High School.
The Patriots (0-1) led 11-10 after the first quarter and 29-21 at halftime, largely due to a monster performance from Deon Monroe, who had a double-double at halftime (13 points, 10 rebounds). A pair of 3-pointers from Monroe, the first treys of the sophomore’s high school career, helped the Patriots go on an 11-1 run to end the half. Monroe ended the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
That performance wasn’t enough as Northtown players Chandler Parsons and and Ja’Mya Powell-Smith combined for 39 points.
“The right players got the right shots at the right time for them,” Cassity said of the Hornets. “They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
While those two were a huge part of the Hornets’ win, guard Cassidy Turner helped keep Northtown in it with a trio of 3-pointers in the third period. Her last one cut Truman’s lead to 38-36 before Prater’s basket in the paint tied it at 38 midway through the period.
Truman went into the fourth quarter leading 43-42.
“We gave them five points right off the bat in the second half,” Cassity said. “One of them was on a missed offensive rebound. It hit the floor and we had three guys around it and no one grabbed it. Then we fouled them on the way up. That got them back in the game.”
The teams engaged in a seesaw battle early in the the fourth until a 3-pointer from Turner put Northtown up for good at 56-53. Prater, a Division I recruit, took over from there as she scored six of her 12 fourth-quarter points in the final 2:30.
Cassity noted that Truman’s offense performance was suboptimal. The Patriots had just two assists, 19 turnovers and shot 5 of 22 (22 percent) from the behind the arc.
“Offensively, we were bad,” Cassity said. “We only had two assists, which is awful. We weren’t sharing the ball and not swinging it. When you do that, the ball is not seeing both sides of the floor and you’re not getting good shots. (North Kansas City) is too good to make them only defend one side of the floor.”
Jewel Hart added 12 points for the Patriots.
NORTH KANSAS CITY 52, TRUMAN BOYS 38: For first three quarters of Tuesday’s game against North Kansas City, Truman was able to hang around.
Truman even led on a few occasions, but Northtown’s 12-2 run in the fourth led to a season-opening loss for the Patriots on the road.
As was the case last season, in which Truman won just two games, it was a struggle on offense. The Patriots shot just 11 of 38 from the field (28 percent) and missed several layups.
The Hornets led 16-12 after one period and 23-20 at halftime. Truman briefly held a 30-29 lead in the third quarter after Jeilel Phillips spun around a Hornet defender and made a layup underneath. Northtown answered that basket with a 6-0 run to take a 35-30 lead into the final period.
Truman cut the lead to four on a pair of occasions in the fourth but the Hornets’ big run at the end put it away.
“We just stopped scoring in the fourth quarter,” Truman boys coach Rod Briggs said. “That’s going to get you beat. We kept the pace where we wanted but we let it slip the last couple of minutes in the third quarter.
“I think we avoided contact a little bit. Instead of going up strong and getting to the foul line, we missed every inside shot we had.”
Sophomore guard Kaimen Lennox led Truman (0-1) with nine points and Keaton Wiley added eight.