816 North girls hoops: North KC advances to sectional playoffs

03/11/2014 4:35 PM

03/11/2014 4:36 PM

The North Kansas City High School girls basketball team is in familiar territory, but the Hornets are hoping for an unfamiliar outcome.

The Hornets claimed the Missouri Class 5, District 15 championship last Saturday with a 58-43 win against Staley. They move on to face Lee’s Summit West at 3 p.m. today at the Independence Events Center with a trip to the state quarterfinals on the line.

It’s not their first time in this situation.

Last season, North Kansas City also advanced to the sectional round but fell to Kearney in a game in which it failed to muster offensive cohesion.

This season, however, the Hornets,18-9, are carrying some momentum with 11 wins in their last 14 games.

“I think we still have a lot of room to improve, but obviously we are playing a lot better lately after starting the season 7-6,” North Kansas City coach Jeff Lacy said. “Defense is where it starts with our team. If we do it and do it well, we always give ourselves a chance to win.”

After North Kansas City failed to defend its Suburban White Conference title — Fort Osage and Staley shared those honors this season — Lacy said his team emphasized a better defensive effort heading into the postseason. It’s paid off in the form of victories.

“I think our team’s halfcourt defense has been much better as of late,” Lacy said. “We are starting to realize the importance of defensive efficiency.”

That will again be a point of emphasis this afternoon. Lee’s Summit West, 18-8, has scored an average of 56 points per game during its current six-game winning streak.

“They are a very talented and athletic team,” Lacy said. “They like to (apply) pressure defensively and use their athletes to create havoc. I think they are a tough matchup for us, so we will have to be ready to battle on every possession and not take any plays off. They have a great combination of being well-coached, along with having the size, athleticism and shooting (ability) to create many problems for a lot of teams.”

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