The important first Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup between Platte County and Raytown South could have gone so many different directions.
Facing a second straight loss after an unbeaten start to the season, Platte County endured a first quarter with no field goals, trailed for the majority of the second half and survived disappointing potential game-winning possessions at the end of the fourth quarter and first overtime. Pirates senior guard Jace Trimble finished with just five points in a rare off night, and leading scorer Jarett Mueller didn’t hit double-figures until a 3-pointer to open the second overtime that put Raytown South behind for good.
Platte County eventually walked out of Platte County High School on Friday with a 63-55 double-overtime win despite myriad circumstances that could have resulted in a difficult loss.
“We’ll definitely take that,” Havemeier said. “(Mueller and Trimble) do so much for us, and every night they’re not going to put up 20 each, so the off nights the other guys, coach (Rick) Hodge says it all season, we’ve got to step up and put some on the board and in the basket. That’s what we did, and we won.”
Platte County (8-1, 3-1) prevailed thanks to Havemeier’s consistent production, and a team-high 18 points from junior forward Chandavian Bradley, who supplied a pair of rim-rattling two-handed dunks during a third quarter comeback. In addition, Mueller gutted out a 12-point effort with three 3-pointers — all in the second half — and senior Brody Fulk hit 3 of 6 free throws to match those 12 points and close out the win.
Both teams entered off of overtime losses two days earlier: Raytown South at Smithville and Platte County in double-overtime at Ruskin. The Pirates splitting those outcomes while playing four extra sessions in a span of three days kept them in a prime position for what should be a very close and competitive Blue Division conference race.
“Two double overtime games in three nights is rare,” Hodge said. “When you play quality opponents, and our schedule is getting tougher really quick, we have to be more dialed in and focused and connected on every single possession — offensively and defensively. And when we take quick shots or a bad shot or we’re not where we’re supposed to be defensively, these teams are going to make us pay.”
Despite an almost unfathomably slow start, Platte County went into halftime down just 19-18, and a 3-pointer for Mueller from the right corner — the first field goal for him or Trimble to that point — put the Pirates ahead 21-19 with 6 minutes, 49 seconds left in the third quarter. Raytown South responded with a devastating 11-2 run during the Pirates’ second prolonged scoring drought.
Bradley provided the spark with a pair of energetic two-handed dunks, missing a free throw for a potential three-point play after the first and the second cutting Platte County’s deficit to 30-27. He also missed a pair of dunks on the night but flashed what makes the 6-foot-6 Division I football recruit a difference-maker.
“That was the good part, and he gives us a spark,” Hodge said.
A putback from Havemeier drew Platte County within one point and another bucket inside from him answered a 3 from Raytown South senior guard Adrian Thompson, who then added a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter. The Cardinals went into the final 8 minutes of regulation up 35-31 but wouldn’t hold the lead for that entire span of time.
A hustle play from Havemeier and junior reserve guard Boston Wahlert twice saved a loose ball during a Platte County possession early in the fourth quarter. Trimble eventually corralled the ball and fired a quick pass back to Havemeier, who converted a left-handed shot. The senior guard’s timely assist closed the gap to two and exemplified his big contributions setting up teammates and with his normal hustle defense despite limited scoring.
“He’s the best defensive player we have. He’s a great leader, too, so he picks us up,” Havemeier said. “Even if he’s off, he continues to play hard and give us his all. His passing is the best I’ve ever played with so even if he doesn’t score he can help us in other ways.”
Havemeier’s first of two buckets in the fourth quarter started a 6-0 run, which also featured a driving layup for Bradley and an inside basket for Havemeier’s final points that put Platte County up 37-35 with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter.
Raytown South fired back Thompson hitting all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, and junior guard Cerick Wright added his second triple moments later to quickly reestablish a four-point lead. Mueller answered with his second 3 from the right corner, and a steal for Trimble led to another transition layup for Bradley, who then added basket to make it 44-41 Pirates with 1:45 left.
“Offensively, we’re still working with him on finding his niche in this five-out motion that we run,” Hodge said. “We do want him attacking the rim. That’s his strength — one bounce, maybe two, attack the rim, get the angle to the glass. Sometimes he does it from too far out. The other thing about it too that I did like is when he did have it and kids were popping out, he didn’t just force it somewhere that would be a turnover. He was a little more conservative with the ball, and then as things opened up he attacked them. He’s getting better and figuring out what we want from him on the offensive end.”
Thompson’s fifth and final 3 tied the score again at 44-44 with what needed up being the final points of regulation.
Mueller missed a 3, and Raytown South called a timeout with 37.8 seconds left. Platte County forced a turnover, but the Cardinals committed a non-shooting foul to deny a transition opportunity. The Pirates set up a potential game-winning play but committed a bad turnover only for Thompson to bizarrely fire up a running shot with 7 seconds still remaining.
Platte County collected the loose ball but could only manage a desperation heave from Mueller near midcoast that didn’t come close to going in.
“Our kids were pretty sound defensively as far as being in the right position, staying straight up without fouling,” Hodge said. “They got the stops when they needed them.”
Bradley opened the overtime scoring with a pull-up jumper, but Raytown South took the lead right back at 47-46 on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Travon Henderson, who finished with 10 points. Fulk split a pair of free throws in a one-and-one situation, and Bradley’s steal and layup put the Pirates back in front 49-47 in a frenetic start to the extra period.
Trimble’s first and only field goal came on another chaotic loose ball situation with Fulk chasing down possession and tipping the ball to his point guard. In one motion, Trimble caught the ball and threw up a floater that rolled in to make it 51-49 with 1:30 on the clock.
Raytown South tied it back up on a second-chance putback, and Platte County again misplayed a potential game-winning possession with another turnover. However, Wright missed the front end of a one-and-one situation after officials whistled a foul on Trimble trying to tie him up on a loose ball away from the basket.
Bradley rebounded, and Hodge took a timeout with 13.8 seconds left. The play drawn up never materialized thank to another turnover, and Raytown South ended up with the ball under its own basket and 3.2 seconds on the clock coming out of a timeout.
Wright ended up with the ball in the right corner, but his potential game-winning shot hit the side of the backboard and led to a second overtime.
“I thought we had what we wanted running our basic offense, trying to get a layup. We’ll take the layup at any point we can,” Hodge said. “We had a bad turnover that we shouldn’t have had then we had the set play called that I wanted that’s been pretty consistently accurate for us throughout the season, and we turned it over on that, too, so the execution in those situations was disappointing.”
Mueller then broke the tie with his 3 from the right wing for the last of his three field goals and 12 points on the opening possession of the second overtime. Bradley had a missed dunk that led to a loose ball foul that gave Raytown South a pair of free throws to close within one, but the Cardinals ran out of steam from there, failing to hit a shot from the field until the final minute after falling behind 60-53.
Trimble answered the final bucket with two free throws in a one-and-one situation, moments after Fulk converted a pair in the same scenario, to seal the win.
“(Mueller and Trimble) had an off night, and kids do that but we still found a way to win on what I think was our off night,” Hodge said.
Platte County’s poor shooting in the first quarter could have been enough to derail any hope of a competitive matchup. The Pirates did take an initial 4-1 lead on four free throws, including 3-for-4 from Havemeier, before Raytown South went on a 7-0 run that ballooned to 13 unanswered when Thompson, who scored a game-high 24 points, hit back-to-back 3s in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Down 14-4 and without a shot made from the field to that point, Platte County started to dig out when Bradley hit a baby hook shot from the left baseline with 7:12 left before halftime.
“We definitely struggled,” Havemeier said. “We just had to lock in defensively. … We just waited until the shots started falling, moved the ball and finally found the inside game.”
The defensive effort eventually led to seven answered points over a prolonged period for Platte County. Wahlert provided five of those points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key to close the gap to 14-11.
“(Wahlert) does his role well,” Hodge said. “He does a good job on this team as far as accepting his role and doing what’s asked of him when his number’s called. Tonight, he had a nice little outback and the nice 3-ball that kind of sparked us a little bit, too, and then didn’t hurt us on the other end.”
The run became 9-0 before Raytown South junior guard Delshon Fields hit a pair of a free throws with 1:57 left in the second quarter after the Cardinals had went scoreless for more than five minutes.
Platte County tied it back up at 16-16 on a bizarre sequence where Havemeier collected a foul on a loose ball rebound only for officials to whistle Raytown South senior forward Shawndale Ross (11 points) for a technical foul after the play. Fields missed the front end of a one-and-one for the foul on Havemeier, while Mueller split the two technical free throws. He then added two free throws after drawing a shooting foul on the resulting possession.
Having trailed since the midway point of the first quarter, Platte County took the lead back at 18-16 on a pair of free throws from Havemeier on the next possession. However, Thompson buried a 3 from the left corner at the buzzer to put Raytown South up 19-18 at the break and leaving the Pirates both fortunate to still be in the game but also disappointed at having not taken bigger advantage of the visitors’ struggles in the first half.
“That was the whole night,” Hodge said. “It was like we do things well at times that show flashes and then we make plays that we can’t make with the veteran players we have out on the floor. We can’t have the number of turnovers that we had tonight. When we move the ball, share the ball and get what we want — which we were at times in the first half but we weren’t hitting hit shots. OK, so now the kids started to try to do too much at times because we’re not hitting shots instead of sticking with it: move the ball, share the ball, cut without the ball — all the things we repeatedly demand of them.
“We go away from that sometimes, and we have to learn to stay relaxed, stay poised and handle ourselves better in those situations.”
Regardless, Platte County bounced back from its first and only loss of the season with an important win going into next week’s Bulldog Classic in Kearney. The Pirates open with De La Salle Charter on Tuesday in the first round before finishing up the bracket on Thursday and Friday regardless of the result.
Platte County’s next conference games will both be on the road — Jan. 18 at Winnetonka and Jan. 21 at Smithville — and the two double-overtime scenarios from this past week will hopefully provided confidence for navigating what will be a relentless close to the season.
“We want to play the hardest teams we can. We can learn from every game,” Havemeier said. “The turnovers tonight weren’t great, same with Ruskin. Every game we’ve got to get better, and we learn from our mistakes.”
Ruskin 90, Platte County 86, 2OT
In his first game back after suffering a shoulder injury nearly a month earlier, Mueller buried a trying 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired in regulation Tuesday at Hickman Mills Middle School, but the Pirates ran out of steam with a pair of starters fouling out in the two overtimes.
Mueller scored 15 of his team-high 28 points after the third quarter, helping Platte County erase a game-long deficit and nearly steal the first matchup between the two teams that shared last year’s Blue Division conference title. Bradley added 20 points, while Havemeier finished with 15 before fouling out and Fulk contributed 11.
Only five players scored for Platte County with Trimble scoring the final nine.
Ruskin started fast with five 3-pointers and seven in the first half. The Eagles led 18-16 after the first quarter with Platte County sticking close thanks to six points for Mueller in his first action with a noticeable brace on his right shoulder from an injury he suffered in the second half of a win over Grain Valley on Dec. 10. He missed the next two games before a sizable Christmas break, giving him time to return for this matchup.
Mueller didn’t score in the second quarter and had only nine points when the fourth quarter started.
Ruskin took advantage and held leads of 36-30 at halftime and 49-45 after the third quarter. Bradley scored 18 of his 20 points before the fourth quarter, and Mueller took over from there, burying four 3-pointers and adding a three-point play in the final 8 minutes of regulation.
Platte County remained behind 65-62 after Ruskin split a pair of free throws, and the Pirates took a timeout with 9 seconds left. The Eagles opted not to foul, and Mueller converted a somewhat off balance throw from the left wing at the buzzer.
Both teams scored eight in the first overtime, but Ruskin built an eight-point advantage with 1:17 left in the second overtime and held on from there with strong free throw shooting. The Eagles and Smithville remain as the only unbeaten in Blue Division play at this point ahead of a matchup between the two Tuesday at Hickman Mills Middle School.