Even as the girls basketball season grinds through its fourth month, Lee’s Summit North remains a work in progress.
For the most part, the progress has been good, but even with a senior-dominated lineup the Broncos still have had nights where they take a step or two back. It’s a pattern North coach Tricia Lillygren has confronted most of the season.
“It’s February and we’re still learning, trying to put it together,” she said. “And some nights look a lot better than other nights.”
Monday was one of those nights the Broncos didn’t look so good, at least for a half.
Playing at home against Park Hill, a sluggish North trailed for most of the first half before finding its stride in the third quarter and pulling out a 52-42 Suburban Gold Conference victory.
The Broncos (13-5 overall, 7-1 Suburban Gold) have a recent history of up-down-play dating back to the Jan. 29 win against Staley for Lillygren’s 400th career coaching victory.
During that game, North shot well and made free throws down the stretch, but the Broncos did neither in getting blown out by Lee’s Summit West 54-34 on Jan. 31.
Two days after that, the Broncos took command early in a 44-27 win Feb. 2 versus Raymore-Peculiar.
Against Park Hill, a team North whipped 67-43 on Jan. 4, the Broncos made only 3 of 15 shots in the first quarter, trailed after an 8-0 Trojans run and wouldn’t regain the lead until the third quarter.
“Our offense was so standstill and stale in the first half,” Lillygren said. “We weren’t putting pressure on their defense; we weren’t making the right pass at the right time.”
That would change in the third quarter, after Lillygren had a talk with the Broncos about being more active and finding open players when Park Hill double- and triple-teamed inside.
“They know what to do,” Lillygren said. “It’s just a matter of believing in it and going and doing it. I was proud of our response coming out of halftime. That quarter right there won the game.”
North trailed 20-18 at the half and took its first lead since the early going on a three-pointer by Alexis Griffin only 5 seconds into the third quarter. Griffin drove the lane on the Broncos next possession and started an 8-3 run, which put North ahead to stay.
“That’s five points right there and I think that kind of started to set the tone for us,” Lillygren said.
Park Hill (5-13, 1-7 Suburban Gold) stayed within 29-28 until North ended the quarter with a 12-5 run.
Aiyana Johnson scored six of her team-high 18 points during the quarter and, even when she missed an and-one free throw, North was able to get the rebound and kick it out to Tiana Gipson, who drained a three-pointer for a 38-30 lead.
Park Hill would never draw closer.
“Our chemistry started to grow and our confidence in each other started to grow, so we started passing again and moving the ball around,” Johnson said. “I think just overall we communicated more and played as one instead of playing as individuals.”
Gipson scored 13 points for North, while Micaela Dickerson added 10 points.