With a six-player senior class returning to Summit Christian Academy, it was easy to believe coach Jake Kates when he said the Eagles would enjoy a much-improved basketball season.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
But an undefeated record in the middle of January? Well, the expectations weren’t quite that lofty.
Nevertheless, a year after finishing only one game above .500, the Eagles are off to a 9-0 start season.
“We knew we were going to be experienced, and I knew I had a lot of potential,” Kates said. “What I didn’t know was how they were going to come together as a team because we lost our leaders. That was probably our biggest question mark, but we’ve had guys step up in that area.”
The most notable leader, Kates says, is point guard Taurin Hughes, who also happens to be the team’s leading scorer. Hughes is pouring in nearly 26 points per game.
The unbeaten Eagles will be tested in the coming weeks. They are the top-seeded team in the Pleasant Hill Invitational this week. They were to open Tuesday with a game against Pembroke Hill.
Next week, Summit Christian Academy will compete in the Stressman Tournament at Liberty High School.
“We’re going to have a chance to find out a little more about ourselves,” Kates said. “It’s going to be a good gauge for us to see where we fit.”
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.
Still, 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 with 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: Truman at St. Joseph Central, 7 p.m. Thursday
Truman won’t have to worry about the added pressure of carrying an undefeated record into the postseason this season.
Olathe South handed the Patriots a 55-40 defeat in the Hy-Vee Shootout on Dec. 20. That gave Truman its first loss of the season about 10 weeks earlier than it came last year in a Missouri Class 5 district championship game to Kearney.
Even so, Truman remains one of the teams to beat in Missouri Class 5 and the favorite to win the Suburban Red Conference.
But it won’t be easy. Five of the six teams in the conference have posted winning records, and St. Joseph Central is no exception. The Indians are off to a 7-2 start
Truman, 10-1, counters with a defense-first mentality. The Patriots have allowed only two of 10 opponents to reach 50 points and have flashed a balanced effort offensively led by center Becca Jonas and guards Abby Hix and Kayla Harrell.