Welcome to the world of high school varsity basketball.

Welcome to the world of high school varsity basketball.

Of the 10 players who finished Monday’s opening round game between Truman and Lee’s Summit North in the Bronco Invitational, half of them were freshmen playing in their first high school game, and all but one were underclassmen.

As far as debuts go, North’s tandem of point guard Erica Nelson and power forward Imani Johnson got the best of Truman’s trio of guards Ashley McKinney and Abby Hix and forward Kayla Harrell, all five of whom were on the floor as the Broncos’ 51-47 win in overtime came to an end.

Nelson tossed in 12 points, dished out four assists and added two blocks and a steal for the Broncos, while Johnson broke out the gate with a team-high 18 points, six rebounds, five steals, two assists and two blocks. The 5-foot-11 Johnson knocked down her only two 3-point attempts on the night and was 6-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Of the three freshmen Truman had on the floor during crunch time, McKinney led the Patriots with eight points, four steals and three rebounds, Harrell came off the bench and added eight points and Hix chipped in with five points, a steal and a rebound in a reserve role.

“They were putting  a lot of pressure on us and extended their defense,” Truman head coach Steve Cassity said of having three rookies on the court in the pivotal minutes of the game. “We felt we needed more ball handlers on the floor. We have several talented freshmen guards who handle pressure well and can score a little bit, so we kept them on the floor. I thought they played well.”

Truman led 21-5 after the first quarter and 31-14 at halftime. A 15-2 Broncos run over the course of the third quarter pulled Lee’s Summit North to within four heading into the fourth quarter.

“It’s a game we should have won,” Cassity said. “We had a 17-point lead. The third quarter was a bad quarter. We only scored two points. We got outplayed in the third quarter and the first four minutes of the third quarter are critical.

“I think we kind of let them establish some momentum and get back in it. They gain some confidence and they played more like you expect Lee’s Summit North to play.”

Added Truman senior forward Becca Strobbe, who scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and added two steals and an assist: “We have a lot of new faces in with not a lot of varsity experience, but we’re looking forward to getting better.

“At times we had four freshmen (including center Becca Jonas) on the floor. They know how to handle pressure. Towards the end they got a little frazzled, but that’s to be expected when it’s your first varsity game.”

Johnson hit a big time 3-point shot in the fourth and junior guard Mollie Williams banged home two from long range in the quarter, including a buzzer-beating shot to send the game into overtime tied at 44-44.

“It’s really indescribable,” Williams said of her game-tying shot. “To do that for your team – the girls that you love, the girls you work hard with every day – it’s indescribable.”

Nelson blocked Truman’s opening shot attempt in overtime and raced down to the other end of the court to complete a fast-break layup and give the Broncos their first lead of the game, 46-44, 30 seconds into the extra session.

The Broncos added five more points in overtime on a Williams layup and free throws by junior Cady Jo Lennan, Nelson and Williams to take the come-from-behind victory in front of some enthusiastic supporters at Lee’s Summit North.

“We’ve got such a young team,” North Tricia Lillygren said of a team that played without returning guard McKenzie Kellogg, who was out ill. “There was only one returning letter winner out on the court tonight. I knew we were going to have to break it in, but I didn’t think that it’d be (21-5 after the first quarter). Wow. Just the growth in one game was phenomenal.”

The Patriots will take on Lincoln Prep at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament’s consolation bracket and in semifinal action North will get one of the state’s top Class 4 teams in Staley, also at 7 p.m. Wednesday.