Basketball can be a beautiful game when passes are crisp, the offense flows and shots fall.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
When all of that doesn’t happen, the best alternative is to get the ball and keep putting it up until it does fall.
Winnetonka used the latter brand of basketball to build a first-half lead against Platte County on Friday.
The Griffins then found their offensive harmony in the third quarter, and cruised to a 72-37 victory.
First-year Winnetonka coach Todd Magwire calls his up-tempo brand of basketball “32 minutes of fury.” The Griffins used their depth and pace to overwhelm the Pirates, who had just five true varsity players on their roster.
Winnetonka, 15-6, came into the game having lost two straight, one to Fort Osage the other to Liberty North. It promptly fell behind 5-0 before kicking its offense into gear.
The Griffins reeled off 13 straight as part of a 20-7 run.
“Our guys don’t shoot the ball the greatest. We made a good run by forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets, and the next thing you know we get up by 15 or 16 and we start shooting threes,” Magwire said.
Platte County was able to claw its way back to within seven points. But Winnetonka responded with a 16-0 spurt to put the game away.
“Our basketball is not always going to be the prettiest, but we try to create a lot of our offense out of our defense,” Magwire said.
The beauty came in the second half, when the Griffins hit a couple of three-pointers and finished off fastbreaks with an unselfish touch.
Senior Bennie Curtis scored a game-high 20 points for Winnetonka. Chris Harbison added 17 — 13 of which came from a perfect night at the free-throw line.
Platte County, winners of two games this season, got 10 points from Jason Upton and nine from DeAndre Ward.
“We struggled with their athleticism, their full-court pressure and their work on the glass,” Platte County coach Rick Hodge said. “Whenever we make a mistake it’s a layup at the other end, and that’s why we struggle. We as coaches are frustrated, but they’re frustrated too. When things start to go bad, we kind of hang our head, and things kind of snowball. As a whole, I’m happy with the effort, but we go in spurts.”
Winnetonka still can claim a share of the Suburban Blue Conference title if it can win out against Grandview, Kearney, Raytown South and Liberty North.
“We still control our own destiny,” Magwire said.
The Griffins destiny starts with a little bit of hustle.