Platte County wants to develop confidence in a roster with plenty of experience, just not enough experience winning.
A lopsided 81-14 victory over Excelsior Springs on Monday night at Pirate Fieldhouse showed just how far the Pirates have come in response to three straight losing seasons. They utilized a stifling full-court press and put up an astonishing 31 points in the first quarter, ended up with a running clock for all of the fourth and saw 12 of 13 players to enter the game score at least two points.
With the ninth win of the season, Platte County already surpassed the total for all of last season with more than a month left to go.
“I think we’ve definitely worked on in practice kind of just having that swagger and more confidence and just kind of making a mark when we come out and setting the tone,” said Platte County junior guard Lydia Doole, who hit two of the Pirates’ five 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. “I think we definitely did that tonight.”
Platte County senior forward Reese Pickett contributed a pair of baskets early, and the Pirates opened on a 14-0 run, capped with a pair of free throws from senior forward Joslyn Hupp
Excelsior Springs didn’t have a field goal in the first quarter, and Hupp and Pickett combined for 14 points in the opening eight minutes. Platte County led 31-2 after the first quarter and ended up with an 18-0 run spanning into the second quarter. Pirates sophomore guard Haley Barlow contributed a pair of breakaway layups on the run, and fellow sophomore guard Lauren Stone buried a 3-pointer from the right corner.
Platte County led 36-4 midway through the second quarter and 38-6 after the Tigers finally hit a short shot from the floor with 4:08 left before halftime.
“Coach is saying the defense is the offense. The defense is what starts our offense,” Doole said.
Platte County closed the first half on an 8-0 run capped with a bucket inside from burgeoning sophomore center Addy Schlake, who put up six of her 10 points in the first half to go with five rebounds. Hupp went into halftime with 12 of her team-high 16 to go with a team-high seven rebounds, while Pickett and Barlow each had all eight of their points in the first two quarters. Barlow added a team-high four assists
Up 46-8 to start the third quarter, Platte County continued to pull away on an inside bucket from Hupp then a pair of 3s from Doole, who had six points in each half while continuing a recent run of success on 3-point shooting.
“It’s just kind of confidence, just keep on shooting. If you miss, you just have to keep shooting them. You’ll make it eventually,” she said.
The points then started to come from everywhere for Platte County with first-year coach Eric Mitchell liberally using his eight bench players. Pirates senior reserve guard Morgan Stewart hit two shots, including her first 3, before first-year sophomore Haley Schank and Schlake each contributed back-to-back baskets in what became a 23-2 run.
Stewart added another 3 in the brief fourth quarter — thanks to the running clock — while Platte County freshman Addie Ayers put up five quick points, including an acrobatic layup while drawing a foul that turned into a three-point play. Pirates senior Mackenzie Shields, the only player not to score, contributed three assists.
Platte County junior Sophia Gaspers and freshman Rylee Carr also finished with two points apiece, as did junior reserve guard Delaney Childers, although her bucket came in the first half onslaught in addition to her five rebounds.
“It gets people rolling, knowing they can (play at this level),” Doole said.
Platte County entered off of a tight Suburban Conference White Division win over Belton that required overtime and saw the winning point total be just 31 points. That came after a loss to Raytown in league play that ended a five-game winning streak in December.
In what became the biggest margin of victory in recent years, Platte County collected 29 steals — for Barlow, five for Schlake, four for Childers and three each for Doole and Gaspers.
Central (St. Joseph) 58, Platte County 57
The Pirates nearly reversed a result from the opening round of a double-digit loss to the same team in the opening round of the Winnetonka Invitational in late November.
The late back-and-forth action ended with Central escaping for a one-point win, while the Platte County again showed improvement but missed a chance at a statement win in nonconferenc play. Hupp finished with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds — both team-highs — while Stone snapped out of a recent scoring funk with 14 plus seven more rebounds.
Mitchell shortened his rotation, and Doole hit a pair of 3s to finish with eight points, while Schlake matched that scoring production and added six rebounds. Barlow continued to runt he offense with five points and a team0high five assists, while Pickett rounded out Platte County’s scoring with four points plus five rebounds and two steals. The Pirates dropped to 9-4 overall and have gone 2-2 since the calendar flipped to 2023, while the difficulty of the schedule continues to pick up.
Platte County returns to conference play on Tuesday on the road against Class 6-ranked Grain Valley and Missouri-bound star Grace Slaughter before going out of the White Division for a road game at Winnetonka on Thursday as the front of a doubleheader with the boys.