High School Sports

North Kansas City girls topple Republic, head to championship game in Missouri Class 5 hoops

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The North Kansas City Hornets girls basketball team is headed for the state championship game in Missouri Class 5.

North Kansas City beat Republic 42-29 at Hammons Student Center in Springfield on Friday afternoon.

North Kansas City improved to 28-2, while Republic ended its season at 22-9.

North Kansas City will take on Jefferson City (29-1) on Saturday night, with the game set at 8:10 p.m.

It wasn’t a pretty game, but the Hornets got things done.

It started slow, with both teams missing their first few shots. The Hornets held the Tigers to 14.3 percent shooting in the first half.

North Kansas City had 26 turnovers by the final whistle, compared to Republic’s 19.

“When you get to this point in the final four, you’ll take it any way you can get it and that’s what happened,” Hornets coach Jeffery Lacy said. “I’m just glad to get out of there with a win.”

Senior forward LaJahda Boyland led the Hornets with 20 of the team’s 42 points. She made 9 of 11 shots and snagged five rebounds. Late in the fourth quarter, Boyland hit layup after layup, leading the Hornets to an 11-point lead.

“If you feed her, she’s going to eat,” North Kansas City senior forward Chandler Prater said. “If you feed her the ball she will eat every time.”

Sophomore guard Ja’mya Powell-Smith had 12 points for North Kansas City. She made 4 of 11 shots and knocked down two three-pointers, one at the end of the first quarter that gave the Hornets a 13-8 lead.

North Kansas City led by eight at the half.

Powell-Smith knocked down the second of her two threess to kick off the third quarter, but Republic’s sophomore guard Savana Powell-Goodman followed immediately with the first of her two three-pointers to keep the Tigers within 10.

Then Republic made a 7-point comeback. Helped by three North Kansas City turnovers, the Tigers cut the lead to three with 1:18 left in the third quarter. But with just one second left on the clock, Powell-Smith laid in a jumper.

“That’s just what Ja’mya does,” Boyland said. “She’s a playmaker and as young as she is, being a sophomore, we really look to her sometimes like in those last second opportunities because we know that’s what she can do is make plays.”

North Kansas City did not let Republic get closer than six points, but struggled with Republic’s fullcourt press.

“If you watch the game, it looks like I made zero adjustments, but I drew some up at halftime — at least I tried,” Lacy said, adding that his team did a decent job of breaking the press.

The Hornets held the Tigers to 27.8 percent shooting in the second half and 20.5 percent overall. North Kansas City also outscored Republic in each quarter by at least five points, excluding the third quarter, which is where Republic had made its comeback.

“We created several turnovers, we were getting stops, we just on the other end we really struggled to put the ball in the basket today,” Republic head coach Kris Flood said. “I give credit to North Kansas City on some of that part. They can get out and guard and really contest and made some of our shots hard for us to shoot over the top of them.”

Lacy said his team will work on taking care of the ball and rebounding for Saturday’s game against Jefferson City.

“If Jeff City comes out and presses, hopefully, we’ll have a little bit better of a game plan for that,” Lacy said. “Jeff City is a little bit of a different team as far as that goes, but Republic played extremely hard.”

Lacy said his team is a little undersized, compared to Jefferson City. The tallest players on the Hornets roster are each 5-foot-11: Boyland and junior forward Leah McCullough. Jefferson City has four players over 6 feet tall.