GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — By the time the decisive minutes arrived, there were no thoughts of a frustrating offensive drought from early in the first half.
Instead, Platte County sophomore Jaden Peterson caught the ball in rhythm and hoisted up a high-arcing 3-pointer from just right of the top of the key. The left-handed reserve forward watched the ball splash home with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the third-place game of the Grain Valley Invitational on Saturday at Grain Valley High School. He then gave a little hushing motion with his arms for good measure.
Peterson delivered the game-winning shot in Platte County’s 53-49 comeback victory on his way to a career-high 13 points against Fort Osage. The Pirates overcame deficits of 12 points in the second quarter and seven early in the third quarter with Peterson, junior Judah Vignery (team-high 18), senior Chandavian Bradley (12) and senior Boston Wahlert (11) accounting for all of the scoring.
“I just shot it because in practice I’ve been working on it,” said Peterson, who hit three of Platte County’s 10 3s — all of his in the second half. “I took advantage of the open shot and just hit it.”
Platte County completed a 2-1 run through the bracket after taking the No. 7 seed. The Pirates opened with an upset of Class 6 Blue Springs South (No. 2 seed), lost in a blowout to the third-seeded hosts in the semifinals before overcoming a scoring drought of more than 9 minutes that spanned almost the entire first quarter and the first part of the second to beat fifth-seeded Fort Osage.
Vignery and Bradley both made the all-tournament team.
Wahlert hit three 3s and scored all of his points in the second quarter, while the rest of Platte County’s scoring trio took turns carrying the load in the second half. The Pirates (7-11) entered on a three-game losing streak, capped with an almost unfathomable last-second debacle in a nonconference game at Winnetonka five days before the start of this tournament.
“We were disrespected on our seeding for this tournament. They were misjudging how good we were,” Peterson said.
Now off until Friday at St. Joseph Central, Platte County avoided losing all the momentum from the upset of No. 2-seeded Blue Springs South. The Pirates actually took an initial 3-0 lead on a 3 from Vignery about a minute into the first quarter but wouldn’t score again until under 6 minutes remained in the first half.
Fort Osage went on a 15-0 run during the nine-minute stretch, capped with the second of five 3s for junior guard Cruz Navarro (game-high 19 points). Platte County coach Rick Hodge took a timeout, and 10 seconds later, Wahlert hit his first shot to end the drought. The Indians and Wahlert then traded two more 3s with Wahlert connecting again.
Platte County would not trail by double digits again.
“He’s been playing well lately. He has, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Hodge said. “He’s the one that kept us in it until the others could get going.”
Platte County made it a 15-3 run after pull-up baskets for Peterson and Wahlert — the first two-point shots for the Pirates coming nearly 12 minutes into the game — then Wahlert’s third 3 and a breakaway two-handed dunk for Bradley, his first points. The dunk tied the score at 18-18, and the Pirates went into halftime tied 20-20.
Fort Osage came out with the first seven points of the third quarter.
Platte County again came right back with 3s from Bradley and Vignery around another bucket for the Indians. The Pirates were within 29-26 after surviving another stretch of 3:37 without scoring early in the second half.
“I felt like we were playing well early. We just weren’t finishing plays,” Hodge said. “We run a set, hits a guy in the hands and goes out of bounds, or we run a set, and he’s wide open and misses the shot. Not getting our rebounds on the defensive end, our boxouts. We weren’t doing the little things. When we made our run in the second quarter, we started to solidify a lot of that. They started to take a little more pride in what they were doing.
“Third quarter started, same stuff that started the game.”
Peterson hit a 3 from the left corner to tie it 29-29, and officials ruled Vignery’s long jumper near the third quarter buzzer at two to deadlock the game again at 33-33.
In between, Fort Osage led 33-31 on two free throws with just under a minute on the clock after a technical foul called against Wahlert for arguing for a foul call. Platte County continued to hang close but still had not led at any point since 3-2 in the early stages of the first quarter.
“We’re just happy he stuck the shot to help keep the momentum,” Hodge said. “There’s still 8 minutes to play. I think we’re good there. Obviously, you always want a 3 over a two, but the biggest thing there is he hit it.”
Vignery hit his third 3 with 7:14 on the clock in the fourth quarter to finally give Platte County the lead back. The shot came after Navarro missed a pair of free throws at the other end and led to a extended run of play lasting just more than 4 minutes that saw the Pirates stretch the lead to 45-38 after Peterson’s second 3 of the half and followed quickly with a layup from Bradley.
“Once we got started, we couldn’t stop,” Peterson said.
Fort Osage took a timeout down 47-38 with 3:16 left in regulation and responded again with a pair of 3-ponters in less than a minute that prompted a timeout from Hodge, who did not like the defensive effort. The Indians then made it a 9-0 run with another 3 on an off-balance shot from Navarro out of the left corner that splashed home.
Peterson then came up with his big shot, only for Platte County to go 3-for-5 on free throws down the stretch to survive. The key sequence came when Peterson missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Bradley grabbed the rebound, drew a foul and then split a pair to avoid an empty possession and push the lead back to two possessions. Vignery made a pair in the final minute to make it 53-47 and maintain control for the Pirates.
“We have to play with poise,” Hodge said. “That’s us. We have to finish plays — offensive and defensive end. We’re not doing that. We don’t keep our focus throughout finishing the plays, but when we do that, that’s when we made our runs. We can’t just miss assignments and hope a win falls in our lap. We have to go get the wins and earn them.”
Grain Valley 64, Platte County 40
The eventual tournament champions shot better than 61 percent from the field in what became a runaway victory Thursday night at Grain Valley High School.
Grain Valley jumped to a 36-23 halftime lead with freshman Eli Herbert hitting three 3s in the first quarter. Platte County stayed within striking distance after Wahlert scored 11 of his team-high 15 points and Bradley nine of his 14 in the first half. The Pirates then managed only 17 points in the second half with Peterson scoring all five of his points in the fourth quarter, while Vignery finished with just three points.
Herbert finished with 22 points, going 5-for-6 on 3s.
Platte County 55, Blue Springs South 53
The Pirates hit eight 3-pointers spread across Bradley, Vignery, Wahlert and junior reserve guard Connor Currence in Tuesday’s first-round matchup at Grain Valley High School.
Bradley put up a line of 19 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks while shooting just 2 of 7 on free throws. He scored 10 of Platte County’s 20 points in the first quarter to key a 20-9 lead, only for Blue Springs South to close back to a 28-28 tie at the break.
Vignery accounted for six of Platte County’s eight points in a slow second quarter on his second and third of four 3-pointers.
Blue Springs South continued to surge ahead after halftime, but Bradley, Wahlert and Currence led the final comeback. Currence hit a 3 in the fourth quarter and added two key free throws, part of a 5-for-5 showing at the line, while Whalert scored eight of his 10 in the second half.