Three new starters, two more first-year role players coming off the bench and a star player returning from a serious knee injury.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
A lot has changed for the West Platte High School boys basketball team since its run to the Missouri Class 2 state championship game last season.
As for the Blue Jays’ record? Nothing has changed.
They are playing undefeated basketball once again. For the second straight season, they have reached mid-January without a blemish on their record.
“We have so many new guys that are playing this year that we really didn’t know what to expect,” West Platte coach Zane Tanner said. “Early on, guys were trying to fit into their role and figure out where they belonged. But our great equalizer is that Adam (Roe), Bryce (Cashman) and Cody (Guthrie) were here last year, and they’ve been great leaders for us.”
In fact, they’ve led the team to nine straight wins to open the season.
After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the state semifinal game last March, Roe was cleared to return to the floor for preseason practices. He’s picked up where he left off, averaging 22 points per game. He has committed to play basketball at Army.
“He’s been even better (this year), really,” Tanner said. “We kind of thought that may hinder him a little bit, but he’s doing everything just as well as did last year, if not better.”
BOYS GAME OF THE WEEK: Winnetonka at Grandview, 7 p.m. Friday
Winnetonka nearly pulled off one of the season’s most unlikely comebacks last Friday. The Griffins trailed Lee’s Summit by 23 points at halftime, then rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer from senior Tyler Roy. Ultimately, though, Winnetonka ran of gas, and Lee’s Summit pulled away for a seven-point win.
But it was a valuable experience for the Griffins as the Suburban Blue Conference schedule heats up.
With a 5-3 record,Winnetonka has won its first two conference games, but a stiff test comes when it travels to face Grandview, arguably the favorite to win the league.
Grandview, 7-2, is led by Division I recruit Tyrone Taylor, who has averaged 19.2 points per game thus far, along with Nelson Nweke, who posts nearly a double-double average of 11.2 points and 9.8 rebounds.
“When he does that, we will be hard to beat,” Bulldogs coach Randy Farris said, adding that his team has been “playing steadier as of late.”
GIRLS GAME OF THE WEEK: Staley vs. North Kansas City, 10:30 a.m. Monday
These teams played three times last season with North Kansas City winning each time, including the coveted playoff matchup, but the game Monday marks the rematch of an instant classic played at the Sprint Center last season. Staley and North Kansas City will meet again at the Sprint Center as part of the second annual Time Warner Cable SportsChannel Showcase on Martin Luther King Day.
In last year’s game on the same floor, North Kansas City freshman Selena Salas banked in a 26-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to lift North Kansas City to a one-point decision. Salas and Aries Washington have the Hornets off to a 7-3 record.
Staley, 5-4, has won its first two league games and is looking to match Fort Osage’s 3-0 mark at the top of the Suburban White Conference standings. The Falcons are led by point guard Monique Townson, who scored 27 points in a losing effort Monday against William Chrisman. Townson has signed with Arkansas Little Rock.