Platte County veteran coach Rick Hodge can make a plan for how to mold this year’s roster but also readily acknowledges the need for flexibility. The Pirates have only one proven scorer back — versatile senior guard Judah Vignery — and only two others with notable experience.
Coming off an 8-18 season with no wins in Suburban Conference White Division play, Platte County must rebuild behind new faces.
“I believe this will be a more unified group that plays together better on both ends of the floor,” Hodge said. “We don’t have the size we’ve had in the past, so we’re going to have to find other ways to score and defend. I could see the rotation changing as the season moves along.”
A second-year starter and third-year contributor, Vignery ranked No. 2 for Platte County in scoring last year at 14.1 points per game, while shooting 36.8% on 3-pointers (team-high 43 made). His supporting cast will likely include seniors Jacob Isaacson, Brady Wetzel and Isaac Dittrick. The latter two received brief cameos last year, but all three will have potential to carve out a significant role, similar to what Boston Whalers and Trevor Redding did going from junior varsity to starting lineup in 2022-23.
Platte County’s five-player senior class last year most notably included All-White Division performer Chandavian Bradley, a 6-foot-5 forward capable of dominating a game at both ends. He averaged team-highs of 16.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.7 blocks per game while also ranking second in assists. The Pirates also must replace the production of Wahlert at point guard (8.6 points and 2.4 assists per game), three-year contributor Parker Amos (22 3-pointers, 3.7 points per game) and Redding (3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game).
In addition to the four starters, Platte County also used senior forward Kai Oates as a key reserve and post presence. The Pirates were regularly competitive but lost seven games by six points or fewer — five of those in the final 12 games. They were the No. 4 seed in Class 5 District 8 but lost 62-61 to fifth-seeded Van Horn in the opening round to conclude a seven-game losing streak.
Platte County reached the district title game in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 in 20-win seasons — one of the two best stretches in program history. The Pirates were able to rely on established players each of the past three years but will clearly have an entirely new identity this winter.
Beyond Vignery, only junior Jaden Peterson and senior Connor Currence have extended minutes in their careers. Peterson averaged 5.5 points per game as the top reserve for Platte County in 2022-23, scoring in double figures four times with a career-high 18 in a loss to Belton. Currence regularly subbed in at point guard and often earned extended time in high-pressure-defense scenarios and averaged 1.6 assists and almost a steal a game but scored only 36 points in 26 games.
“(We need to) continually improve as the season goes along,” Hodge said. “What we lack in size, we must make up for in other areas. We must play as one cohesive unit on both ends of the floor if we are going to find success.”
While replacing four starters last season, Platte County won 5 of 9 games at one point last January but didn’t have enough consistency beyond Bradley and Vignery, who can guard multiple positions and score inside or outside. Peterson’s ability to step into a featured spot plus consistency from Currence at point guard likely determines whether the Pirates can increase last year’s win total.