When Grandview High School coach Shannon Moore told his friends, colleagues, coaching peers — whoever would listen — that his girls basketball team had potential for a special season, he didn’t get many agreeable responses. And why would he?
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The Bulldogs finished with a 6-19 record last season, and they lost 15 of their last 17 games after Alex Dobbins suffered a season-ending ACL knee injury.
But Moore insisted his offseason message was more than simple coach’s speak.
“I knew the potential was there because we were finally healthy,” Moore said. “And we had some freshmen last year who had some skill, just not a lot of playing experience. When you add the incoming freshmen, there’s potential there.”
Perhaps even more than Moore expected.
Grandview will take a 14-1 record into a road game Friday at Winnetonka. The Bulldogs’ only loss was a two-point defeat by William Chrisman on Jan. 3 — a game they led for a large chunk of the second half.
Dobbins has returned from her knee injury in full force, averaging 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game — both tops on the team. Senior Drea Lesure, another four-year letter winner, averages 11.1 points. The rest of Grandview’s rotation consists exclusively of sophomores and freshmen.
The Bulldogs are scheduled for nine of their last 10 regular season games against Suburban Blue Conference opponents. They haven’t won a league title since 2006.
Kearney, the defending conference champion, remains undefeated. The two teams will meet Feb. 10 and Feb. 27, the latter the regular season finale.
“There’s an opportunity for us to make some noise, but we know we still have a lot of tough games,” Moore said. “Kearney will be a definite test for us to see where we’re at and if we’re capable of taking a step to the next level.”
Boys game of week: Lee’s Summit West at Park Hill South, 7 p.m. Friday
Both teams captured tournament championships over the weekend, which represented their final tuneups before opening the Suburban Red Conference schedule. Each was scheduled to begin league play Tuesday.
Lee’s Summit West edged Park Hill South for the conference crown by one game last season, and the two teams appear to be favorites for the title again.
Lee’s Summit West, with a 12-2 record, blew by the state’s top-ranked team, Columbia Hickman, in the semifinals of the Culver’s Classic before also dispatching Columbia Rock Bridge in the championship game. When the Titans rebound, they are tough to beat. Monte Harrison and Jarred Dixon have led the way on offense.
Park Hill South, 11-4, cruised to a first-place finish at the North Kansas City Tournament, defeating Winnetonka 59-22 in the championship game. Each of its four losses this season have come by six points or fewer.
Girls game of week: Blue Springs South at Blue Springs, 7 p.m. Thursday
This rivalry matchup has taken on added importance, and its outcome is no longer the guarantee it once was. Far from it.
Blue Springs won the two meetings last season by an average of 10 points, but Blue Springs South is vastly improved. With a 10-4 record, the Jaguars have scored more than 50 points in five consecutive games, and they seem to have found a formidable offensive combination with shooting guard Remy Davenport and forward Cloe Lane.
They will match up against a Blue Springs team that has shown steady improvement on defense. Blue Springs, 7-9, certainly doesn’t possess the same talent — or experience — that it had last season, but the Wildcats aren’t ready to concede their conference championship just yet.