High schools

Five things to watch in the Missouri district basketball tournaments

Updated: 2014-02-28T04:42:53Z

By SAM McDOWELL

The Kansas City Star

1. Which top team will fall?

Truman and Kearney are the two favorites to represent Kansas City in the girls Class 5 Final Four. At least one of them, however, won’t even make it out of district play. The two teams — both ranked in the top five in Missouri Class 5 — will challenge for the Class 5, District 14 championship.

Truman seniors Becca Jonas and Abby Hix each surpassed the 1,000-point mark this season.

Kearney has lost twice this season but is 22-0 when holding teams under 50 points. One of those losses came against Liberty, which is also in the district. Meagan Paul leads Kearney with 9.3 points per game.

2. The road gets tougher

The Blue Springs South boys cruised to a district championship last season, but the path to another district title is undoubtedly more difficult this time around. The Jaguars, 18-4, led by forward Kevin Puryear, are joined in Class 5, District 13 by Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit North.

Behind leading scorers Jailen Gill and Brandon Sublett, Raytown has already tripled last season’s win total. The Blue Jays, 18-6, have clinched at least a share of the Suburban White Conference title, but it will have to face Lee’s Summit, 16-6, and top scorer Drew Lock in the district semifinals.

3. Conference rewind

The Lee’s Summit North girls received the top seed in Class 5, District 13 after winning the Suburban Gold Conference, but two of its top competitors in the league — Blue Springs South and Blue Springs — can earn payback in the district tournament. Lee’s Summit North senior Imani Johnson became the Broncos’ all-time leading scorer this month, breaking a mark set by Claire Coggins. Blue Springs has made the Class 5 final four each of the past five seasons.

In the girls Class 5, District 15 battle, Staley and North Kansas City are the top two seeds.

4. Star power

Grandview senior guard Tyrone Taylor set the school’s career scoring record this month, an especially impressive feat considering the previous mark was held by Alec Burks, who is now in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. Taylor, who averages 20.3 points per game, has the Bulldogs on a nine-game winning streak.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Lee’s Summit West and Park Hill South boys teams opt for a more balanced attack. Each team has received No. 1 seeds in their respective district tournaments.

5. A blank slate

The beauty of district play in Missouri is it offers the opportunity for a fresh start. The Liberty North boys are on a three-game losing streak, but the Eagles, 14-10, still have every opportunity to defend their Class 4, District 15 championship and return to the state tournament for the third straight season.

The Fort Osage boys lost a key battle to Raytown last week, ending their conference championship hopes, but the Indians still got the No. 2 seed in Class 5, District 14, behind top-seeded Liberty. Fort Osage defeated Liberty in the final seconds of last year’s district championship.

| Sam McDowell, smcdowell@kcstar.com

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