Raytown South ran the gamut on potential solutions — coaches meetings, players-only meetings, group texts, team-bonding exercises.
But for two months, none of it worked.
Finally, the win-or-it’s-over nature of the playoffs provided a long-sought wake-up call. And an effective one, at that.
Raytown South extended its unlikely postseason run, dismissing Center 64-56 in the Missouri Class 4 boys sectionals Tuesday at Blue Springs South.
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After entering the postseason with a 10-15 record, the Cardinals have won three straight.
“It took awhile for us to find ourselves, but I knew all along that we were built for the playoffs,” said senior Alex Herndon, who led Raytown South with 20 points. “At the beginning of the season, we were always arguing with each other — even in the locker room, in the group chat. But toward the end of the season, we started to stick together.”
The latest chapter in the postseason turnaround required an in-game turnaround.
Center, 19-7, led by six after the first quarter, when Frank Kamgain scored 15 of his game-high 23 points.
Raytown South flew multiple looks toward Kamgain and packed in its zone defense, daring Center to hurl shots from the perimeter. Center did not make a three-pointer in the game.
“We had a zone, box-and-one, man,” Raytown South coach Aaron Ihm said. “We were prepared to do anything it took.”
Tyree Sorrells and Sevon Witt each added 12 points for Raytown South.
Raytown South will play Kearney at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence. Kearney defeated Lafayette 82-74 on Tuesday.
Center girls 60, Grain Valley 56
Grain Valley senior Kendyll Bailey owned the star performance Tuesday. Center took the win.
Center ballooned a three-point halftime lead to double digits and then held on late against Grain Valley in the Missouri Class 4 girls sectionals at Blue Springs South.
But it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Bailey, who poured in a game-best 34 points. She made six three-pointers and the cut the margin to two in the final seconds.
Bailey faced double-teams most of the night as the subject of a triangle-and-two defense, along with teammate Claire Rose.
“We told our defenders to just stick on them and don’t move,” Center head coach Katrina Johnigan said.
Center, 20-6, will face St. Pius X in the quarterfinals at 2:45 p.m. Saturday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.
St. Pius X clawed back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Chillicothe on Tuesday.