When North Kansas City High School’s girls basketball team steps onto the court Wednesday for a tournament semifinal, it will have been a month since it lost its last basketball game. The Hornets, 14-3, are riding a nine-game winning streak — and only two of those games have been decided by a single-digit margin.
But as dominating as the four-week stretch may appear, Hornets coach Jeff Lacy says he’s still searching for the appropriate measuring stick for his team as it enters the stretch run of the season.
The next three days will help.
The Hornets will face Park Hill at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the North Kansas City Invitational semifinals. Park Hill, 13-4, has won four straight.
Liberty, 15-2, will meet Blue Springs South, 10-6, in the other semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday, with the championship game scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Three of the four semifinalists are featured in The Star’s girls basketball rankings.
“In all reality, the competitive tournament field simply gives us a barometer as to what we need to work on for the future,” Lacy said. “While it’s nice to win your own tournament, I think the biggest thing we need to do ... is get better and learn.”
That’s an approach the other semifinalists are taking, too.
It’s the final tournament week of the regular season — and therefore perhaps the final opportunity to mimic a district-tournament setting. The Missouri Class 5 postseason is set to begin over the last week in February.
“We are using this tournament as a chance to prepare for the future,” Park Hill coach Aaron Neeser said. “You have to be able to compete against these types of teams in the future if you want to win something big.”
Games of the week
Truman at Grandview, 7 p.m. Thursday
A pair of teams charged with replacing the bulk of last season’s scoring have experienced fallout in one key area — consistency.
While Truman and Grandview have shown an ability to win — and even beat quality teams — they’ve been unable to do it on a regular basis. As the final month of the regular season begins, however, there’s still time to find a steady rhythm.
Grandview, 11-7, doesn’t have a senior among its rotation, instead relying on junior guard Tatiana McCree (15.9 points per game), sophomore post Nataya Partee (12.7) and junior forward Simone Jordan (12.6) to carry the offensive load.
And that’s what makes Thursday’s matchup especially intriguing.
Similarly, Truman, 10-7, has looked to junior Lexi Hart and sophomore point guard Kierra Collier to lead the offense, with juniors Bri Savidge and Sydney Paialii offering steady contributions, as well.
North Platte at Lawson, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
With two weeks remaining in the KCI Conference season, North Platte and Lawson opened the week as the only two unbeaten teams in league play.
That will soon change.
North Platte, 17-1, visits Lawson on Tuesday in a game that will could eventually determine a league champion.
Lawson, 13-6, is led by senior point guard Kerstin Huffman, who is averaging 13.6 points per game. Huffman reached 1,000 career points in the first round of the Cameron tournament over the weekend. And she followed that achievement with a 29-point output to help Lawson defeat Cameron in the third-place game of the tournament.
Hayley Rash has added 8.3 points per game this season for Lawson, and Bethany Jacobsen leads the team with 4.5 rebounds per game.