The script has been written, the scene is set and now all that’s left is to see how it all plays out. An epic showdown between William Chrisman and Truman will take place Friday at North Kansas City for the Class 5 District 15 championship, the third time the Suburban Big Six conference co-champions will meet this season.
The script has been written, the scene is set and now all that’s left is to see how it all plays out.
An epic showdown between William Chrisman and Truman will take place Friday at North Kansas City for the Class 5 District 15 championship, the third time the Suburban Big Six conference co-champions will meet this season.
The Bears (19-8) and the Patriots (17-10), who split the season series, are all in after Wednesday’s semifinals in which William Chrisman overcame a 15-point first quarter deficit to defeat Kansas City Central 71-63 and Truman – fueled by Becca Strobbe’s 33 points – buried host North Kansas City 65-38.
From the onset, Chrisman’s chances to advance to play for the district title appeared as slim as a runway model’s waistline. Central used a full-court press to jump out to a 17-2 lead as the quicker Eagles raced to a 27-13 lead after the first period.
Per head coach Lindsay Thompson’s instructions, the 10-deep Chrisman squad refused to wilt.
“You know, we talked last night and the day before about making big time plays in big time games,” Thompson said. “I know that everybody – all 10 of them – were frustrated after that first quarter. But I am so proud of them because the team we were a month ago wouldn’t have been able to make that comeback.”
Behind the heady play of senior point guard Ciara Reed, the calming presence of emerging sophomore wing player Samone Redditt, the sharp-shooting of freshman Brooke Parton and the inside muscle of senior Brittany McQuain and freshman Neika Wheeler, the Bears steadied themselves in the second quarter.
A full-court pressure defense applied by the Bears in the second quarter caused all sorts of problems for the Eagles as they turned the ball over numerous times and continuously rushed shots. Using runs of 8-2 and 13-6, the Bears clawed their way back, cutting Central’s lead to 37-34 at halftime.
“Coach said that it was going to be a hard game,” Reed said. “We had to fight to the end. Whenever we were down, we just had to, like, keep it together, play as a team and be 10-strong. I told the team that we were going to win conference and we were going to win districts, and that’s what we’re going for. In order to win, you have to think like a winner.”
McQuain led the Bears with 15 points and 14 rebounds to go along with two steals; Reed scored 13 points, dished out four assists and snared two steals; and Redditt posted 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Parton added 12 points, including three 3-pointers, two steals and two assists and Wheeler had a season-high 13 points and 14 rebounds, prompting Thompson to lavish praise on her underclassman.
“Neika is all muscle and all instincts,” Thompson said. “Her basketball IQ has grown from day one until now by a hundred million percent. I think tonight she showed that. She rebounded the ball and took a lot of pressure of (McQuain).
“Brooke stepped up tonight, she made some big shots. I’m really proud of our young kids.”
Parton said the Bears’ comeback was a total team effort.
“We kept our composure,” she said, “and we definitely played 10-strong. The people who came off the bench played really, really well.”
Wheeler added her all-out assault against the Eagles was a by-product of just wanting to stay on the floor.
“I came out and hustled my butt off because I didn’t know how long I was going to be in there or what I could do,” she said. “I felt really good about actually helping instead of just standing there looking dumb because I’m a freshman.”
TRUMAN 65, NORTH KANSAS CITY 38: Truman’s Strobbe was quite an inside presence for the Patriots on Wednesday, pumping in a game-high 33 points. She scored 16 points in the first half and 17 in the second half. She finished 9 of 13 from the free-throw line.
Patriots coach Steve Cassity said the 5-foot-10 junior forward took advantage of a smaller North Kansas City front line.
“When she can get that type of position in the paint, Becca is tough,” Cassity said. “On any given night, when she’s finishing, she’s a handful. She’s a tough matchup. For as physical as she is, you can’t foul her. You can’t get too physical with her or she’ll end up on the line and she can hurt you there.”
Strobbe had plenty of help. Senior post player Kassidy Ritchel scored seven points and dished out 10 assists, many to Strobbe on an unstoppable high-low game. Ritchel even tossed in a 3-pointer for good measure. Courtney Eisman, a 5-foot-9 senior forward, had seven points and 11 rebounds and senior forward Mikayla Jensen added eight points.
“We executed our offense well,” Cassity said. “Anytime a kid has 30-plus point game, kids are getting her the ball.”
Leading 25-19 at halftime, the Patriots used a 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to create distance between themselves and the Hornets. A 24-8 fourth quarter put the Patriots in a de facto conference championship game against William Chrisman, but more importantly a winner-take-all matchup for a state playoff berth.
“It’s kind of like, since we were co-conference champs, we want to beat ’em,” Strobbe said. “But also we want to progress so we can go to state. We’re not going to take it too heavily, it’s a normal game. We’re just going to come out and play as best as we can.”
Cassity said the district showdown between Independence School District rivals should be a dandy affair.
“That’s something to be proud of,” Cassity said. “Obviously it’s a rivalry, but I told Coach Thompson before the game that it could be an all-Independence final and that’s a good thing. Even though they’re our rivals, I am proud of the Independence schools for being in that final game.”