Platte County came up with all the right answers in bouncing back from the first significant adversity of a season now barreling toward the postseason.
After an unexpected bye in the opening round, Platte County pulled away from fourth-seeded Fort Osage in the semifinals of the Sonic Showdown and then fended off second-seeded St. Michael’s in the championship game Saturday in Grain Valley. The Pirates now enter the week off of back-to-back impressive wins following a stretch of three losses in five games, including back-to-back games in Suburban Conference Blue Division play to rivals Kearney and Smithville, prior to the tournament week.
Platte County senior forward Joey Schultz, senior guard Alex McClure and junior guard Jarett Mueller made the Sonic Showdown All-Tournament team following Saturday’s 88-78 win over St. Michael’s, which received votes in the most recent Class 4 Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll. The Guardians kept it close throughout, going 11-for-29 (38% on 3-pointers).
The two teams scored 20 points in each of the second and fourth quarters, but Platte County hit free throws down the stretch to fend off any potential comeback.
Schultz converted a three-point play in the first quarter to give Platte County a 12-10 lead, and he scored 13 of his team-high 25 points in the first half. The Pirates were up 39-35 at the break and 59-55 after three quarters and needed its own outside attack to earn the win.
Platte County hit eight 3-pointers total on just 17 attempts (McClure 3-7, junior guard Jace Trimble 2-2, senior guard Jaden Burnett 1-2, Mueller 1-3 and senior guard Daunte Alaiwat 1-2). In all, four Pirates were in double-figure scoring with Burnett going for 19, McClure 14 and Mueller 11.
Schultz nearly recorded a double-double with nine rebounds and four assists, while McClure, who scored seven of his 14 points during a key stretch in the third quarter, added seven rebounds. Mueller had four assists.
Down to No. 9 in the most recent Class 5 MBCA poll after the recent tough stretch, Platte County opened as the No. 1 seed and came up with a first-round bye when Marshall, the tournament’s original No. 4 seed, pulled out due to COVID. The Pirates took the court Thursday against Fort Osage after a nearly week off and held a comfortable halftime lead.
Mueller scored 16 of his team-high 24 in the first half, and a 14-1 run in the final four-plus minutes of the second quarter put Platte County up 38-25 at the break. The lead expanded to 52-33 midway through the third quarter, and the Pirates outscored Fort Osage 21-7 in the final 8 minutes for a blowout win.
Mueller and Alaiwat (eight points) hit two 3s apiece for Platte County, while Trimble had 11 points and a team-high four assists. Schultz put up the first of his two double-digit scoring games with 11 points and four assists, while junior Brody Fulk added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Platte County improved to 13-3 ahead of a return to conference play this week. The Pirates travel to Winnetonka on Tuesday before hosting Kearney on Friday in the third matchup between the two teams this season. The pair split the first two meetings, but the Bulldogs took the all-important conference matchup a week and a half ago.
Kearney and Platte County first met in the championship game of the season-opening Savannah Invitational in early December. The Pirates won that one in blowout fashion for the first of now two tournament titles this season.