With an emphatic 54-34 win at home against Lee’s Summit North, Lee’s Summit West took control of the Suburban Gold Conference.
Both teams came into Wednesday’s contest undefeated in conference, but the Titans remained that way with hot shooting from behind the arc and the Broncos struggled to find the range.
“We’ve got to hit shots,” said North coach Tricia Lillygren. “We missed way too many. I think we were 3 of 22 or something in the first half. That pretty much says it.”
As a result, the Titans (14-4, 7-0 Suburban Gold) moved into the driver’s seat midway through the conference season, while North (11-5) slipped to 5-1 in conference play.
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“That was huge,” Titans coach Jeff Hardin said, “and that’s what I told them in the locker room, ‘Hey, that gave us a leg up in conference.’ That’s a really big win for us — against a good team, too. That’s a really good team.”
While the Broncos made only 11 shots from the field overall, shooting a dismal 23 percent on the night, the Titans hit nine three-pointers alone.
Two of them came early from Kenzie Beeler and Sydnee Kemp as West quickly seized an 8-1 lead.
Three three-pointers from Charli Ritchey and two layups from Cayla Vertresse sparked a 13-2 run that spanned the first and second quarters for the Titans, who didn’t play like a tired team.
“This was our sixth game in nine days, so for them to have the legs to be able to shoot like that was pretty impressive,” Hardin said. “That was my biggest fear coming in — that they wouldn’t have the legs — and they did.”
Despite leading the Broncos with 13 points, senior forward Aiyana Johnson found the going tough.
With the Broncos’ outside shot not falling, the Titans packed the lane. During the first half, Johnson made only one basket and went to the free-throw line eight times.
“We knew our assignments,” Hardin said, “and we played to them nearly all the game. We tried to lock down the lane. We probably could have done a little bit better. We did a pretty good job of keeping them from getting second and third opportunities most trips, and that was our real goal — make them have to move off their spot to get a shot, try to prevent the lane, limit the second shots.”
The Broncos finally got a little momentum going late in the third quarter with a 10-0 run to pull within 36-30.
“We played through contact with strength for a couple of plays,” Lillygren said. “We got some free throws that we were able to put in, a couple of transition looks. We got that flow going. It’s tough when you miss a lot of inside shots early. That mental game of, ‘Oh, I should have made that, and then I missed another one.’”
When the Titans drained a couple more deep shots to pull back away early in the fourth quarter, the white flag waved.
After Tiana Gipson made it 36-30 with a three-pointer for North, Hardin called a timeout.
On the other side of the timeout, Morgan Pietig answered with a three of her own from the left corner. Kemp followed with two free throws and another from behind the arc to make it 44-32.
Overall, nine Titans got on the score sheet, led by Kemp’s 14 points. Charli Ritchey scored nine and Marissa Ritchey added eight.
Micaela Dickerson also reached double figures the Broncos with 10 points, including eight in the second half.
West returns to action Feb. 5 at Blue Springs, while the Broncos will try to rebound against Raymore-Peculiar at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at North.
The two teams face each other again Feb. 15 at North in the second-to-last conference game for both teams — perhaps with a share of the Suburban Gold title on the line.