In the championship game of the 37th Annual Truman High School Girls Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon, junior Brenni Rose gave Shawnee Mission Northwest a three-point lead to start the game by aggressively taking the ball inside.
By midway through the second quarter, the Cougars used that attacking style to build a 20-10 lead against Liberty.
“I thought we executed well,” Rose said. “We did what we do best, which is everything we run is inside out. In the third quarter, we got away from that.”
Seemingly, in the blink of an eye, SM Northwest went from a 33-30 lead to a 42-36 deficit after the end of the third quarter.
Despite losing the game, 65-57, for just their second setback in 12 games, the Cougars showed a tenacious spirit in the fourth quarter that should bode well for them down the stretch of the season.
“I was really proud of our effort and battling, no matter the ups and downs,” SM Northwest coach Tyler Stewart said. “Liberty is going to hit you with a run. We didn’t put our heads down. We kept battling.”
The fourth quarter was a perfect example. The game was rapidly slipping away from SM Northwest. The Cougars faced a 47-38 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
SM Northwest quickly regrouped and closed to 57-54 on a basket by senior Tatum Graves. Graves scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars had a few wasted possessions that prevented them from drawing closer and then were forced to foul in the closing minutes.
“You can point to three or four big possessions that we lost on,” Stewart said. “If we converted on three or four of those possessions, then the outcome could have been different. That is something we have to know when we are playing really good teams like Liberty.”
Rose and senior Arielle Jackson played well throughout the game. Rose finished with 19 points and Jackson added 16.
SM Northwest will face another tough opponent on Thursday when it plays host to St. Thomas Aquinas.
Because of tough competition ahead, the Truman Tournament should pay dividends for the Cougars.
“This was a good tournament,” Rose said. “The games were super tough. It helps us. We need to close out games better and not take anyone lightly.”
Game to watch
Bishop Miege vs. Olathe Northwest in Newton Tournament, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Just nine games into the season, Bishop Miege is the final undefeated girls team in either the Eastern Kansas League or Sunflower League.
However, the Kansas Class 4A Division I defending state champion Stags could face a big test in their Newton Tournament opener if Olathe Northwest can get hot from outside the arc.
The Ravens are young have been a little streaky, but they broke a state record earlier this season with 15 three-pointers against Truman. They bounced back from a tough four-point loss to Lawrence Free State with a double-digit victory against St. Teresa’s Academy, and have now won four of their last five games for a 7-3 record.
Miege has had just one game decided by fewer than 10 points and cruised to a 71-27 victory against Pleasant Hill last Tuesday.
| Kathleen Gier, email@example.com