Fans attending the Truman-St. Joseph Lafayette game Tuesday night at the 40th annual Winnetonka Girls Basketball Tournament saw a basketball game – and a track meet – all rolled into one exciting 57-23 Patriots running-clock victory.
With seniors Deon Monroe and Jewel Hart on the floor, with a revolving group of five talented freshman guards, the breakneck speed the Patriots threw at the Fighting Irish turned the Gold Division game into a rout.
“I’ve never had this much fun playing basketball,” said Monroe, the reigning Examiner Player of the Year who served as a complementary component to Truman’s overall game plan, scoring nine points, grabbing eight rebounds and adding four steals.
“Our freshmen are amazing, and I mean, they are really amazing. You could never tell they were freshmen. To have Jewel back from all her knee injuries, and to have all the freshman talent we have this season, I can’t wait to see what happens.”
When asked if she is content to take a backseat to the fab freshmen, Monroe grinned.
“All I want to do is win,” Monroe said. “I don’t care if I don’t score a point as long as we win. But, if they need me to go out and score some points, I know I can.”
So does coach Steve Cassity, whose Patriots improved to 2-0.
“The great thing about Deon is that she does it all,” Cassity said. “She can score, she can rebound, she plays great defense and she is a great leader. And believe me, if there’s a night we need 20 from Deon, she will give it to us.”
The five freshmen combined for 34 points, which caught Trinity Harrison off guard.
“We did?” she asked, giggling. “Wow, I thought we’d be good, but I didn’t know how long it would take for (me and my freshman teammates) to really become a part of the team and go out and play varsity basketball.
“The start of this season is pretty amazing. And I have to tell you, at the end of the game (when the mercy clock was running and Cassity sent all reserves on the court), it was pretty cool to be sitting with Deon and Jewel on the bench. I felt like one of the big-time players – and that’s a good feeling for a freshman.”
Harrison finished with 10 points and Taliyah Scott led the Patriots with 16.
“It’s very cool to be doing what we’re doing,” Scott said, referring to the success of the Patriots and their freshman class so far. “Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but Coach Cassity yells at us a little bit at practice, but we know he does that because he cares about us and wants to make us better players.
“And he is such a good coach. We have two great seniors with Deon and Jewel and we’re all out there having fun. I was afraid some (opponents) might look down on us because we’re so young, but the way we’ve started, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The Patriots advance to the Gold Division semifinals and will meet Lee’s Summit North, a 67-42 winner over Platte County, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the right to advance to Friday’s title game.