An unfamiliar setting left unbeaten West Platte feeling vulnerable for an upset Saturday night.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
But a familiar recipe helped the Blue Jays keep their streak alive.
After trailing by eight points in the opening quarter, West Platte used its size advantage to bounce back for a 76-66 victory against Sacred Heart in the Missouri Class 2 boys quarterfinals at the Independence Events Center.
“This was a lot different than playing at Weston,” said West Platte junior Adam Roe, who poured in 27 points. “These lights are bright and obviously you’re shooting on rollaway baskets. It took us a while to get settled in.”
The Blue Jays, 29-0, scored only four points in the first 71/2 minutes, but they responded with a recognizable formula to turn things around.
They fed the big men. With a trio of talented players on the low block — Bryce Cashman (6 feet 10), Roe (6-5) and Nathan Coulson (6-3) — West Platte returned to its reliable post game, and it paid dividends. Coulson scored 18 and Cashman had nine, giving the three players 54 combined points Saturday night. Roe added six assists, and Coulson had five offensive rebounds.
The result was the team’s fourth trip to the Class 2 state tournament in the past 11 years. West Platte will make the drive to Columbia in search of the first state championship in school history. It will face Iberia at 8:20 p.m. Thursday.
“Whenever you have Bryce and Nathan making shots, it makes it easier on everyone,” Roe said. “We knew if we settled down, we were going to come back.”
One play provided the snap of the fingers to get the offense rolling.
With less than 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Coulson stole a pass at half court and was intentionally fouled as he broke for the basket. He made both free throws, and he tipped in a shot at the buzzer on the ensuing offensive possession. The plays totaled only four points, but they ignited a 14-0 West Platte run that spanned less than two minutes.
The Blue Jays led by four at halftime, expanded the margin to nine after the third quarter and held at least a seven-point advantage for the remainder of the game.
“I think that was huge,” West Platte coach Zane Tanner said. “We didn’t have any rhythm offensively for the first time all year really, so we needed something to get us going, and that did it.”
St. Pius advances
St. Pius X coach Chad Wright said he focused his pregame speech on one central theme: Find a way to get the ball to the basket.
Mac Mason took it to heart.
Mason scored 18 points and Brian Kaufmann added 16, helping St. Pius X to a 62-52 win against Lafayette County in the Class 3 quarterfinals at Independence Events Center.
The Warriors, 22-6, will meet Fatima at 1:40 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena.
“We just kept taking the ball to the hole, doing whatever we could to get to the rim,” Wright said. “And when that didn’t work, we had a couple of guys hit very crucial three-pointers.”
For the second straight week, Nick Morgan played that role. He buried three three-pointers on the way to 11 points. Mason added another three-pointer in the second half after Lafayette County had trimmed the Warriors’ lead to four points.
Stanberry defeated Wellington-Napoleon 53-51 in the Class 1 quarterfinals at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph.
Wellington-Napoleon finished the season 22-7.
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