Truman girls basketball coach Steve Cassity could only stand on the sidelines and watch the Lee’s Summit West players hit 11 of 12 fourth-quarter free throws.
Those foul shots helped as the Titans claim a 53-46 Class 5 sectional win Wednesday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Titans will play North Kansas City, a 40-31 winner over Park Hill South, as 7:45 p.m. Saturday at SEC Arena with the winner advancing to the final four in Springfield.
West’s Sydnee Kemp hit six straight free throws, Morgan Pietig added two and Sydney Brooks was 3 of 4 from the charity stripe to keep the Patriots at bay, and avenge a 41-39 loss to the Patriots during the regular season.
“I’ve been practicing free throws all my life,” said Kemp, who finished with 14 points, “and when I’m a game, I just think about the 10,000 or 20,000 free throws I’ve shot in practice and I feel confident – like all that hard work has paid off.
“I don’t think about the student section and the fans cheering and going crazy. I just shoot free throws. I really stay calm and even though I missed my first two attempts (in the fourth quarter) I knew I’d hit the rest of them.
“And I was able to do that and we were able to win.”
While free throws paid big dividends for the Titans, a low-scoring third period proved to be disastrous for the Patriots, who finished 15-13.
West used a 13-4 third-quarter edge to wipe away a 22-16 Truman halftime lead.
“We played so well in the third period, and had that lead at the half, then we got our shots in the third period, but just couldn’t get them to fall,” said Cassity, who won his 400th career game in Truman’s district championship win Saturday. “Stacy Briggs always seems to come through with a big 3-point basket for us, and she hit those three 3-pointers in the second period and we had the lead and the momentum, but we couldn’t keep it.
“And you have to give West a lot of credit. At the end of the game, they hit a lot of free throws. That was a big key to their win.”
Tears flowed for the Patriots as they left the visiting locker room at SEC Arena. Despite the tears, the players posed for one final photo.
“The loss hurts,” said Truman guard/center Deon Monroe, a junior standout who led the Patriots with 23 points. “But what really hurts is saying goodbye to our seniors. They are the girls who took me under their wing when I was just a sophomore and accepted me and taught me how to play Truman basketball.
“I’m going to miss them so much. We all tried so hard to win tonight, but we just couldn’t quite get it done.”
Marissa Ritchey added 13 points for the Titans and Briggs finished with nine for the Patriots.