STANBERRY, Mo. — Two of the most dominant Class 1 girls in the state locked horns on Saturday in the finals of the Stanberry Tournament, but the game’s standout player wasn’t either team’s returning all-conference or all-state stars — it was Platte Valley reserve guard Sarah Langford.
The sophomore led all scorers with 13 points in Platte Valley’s 50-39 victory over Stanberry.
“I think this is a huge win,” Platte Valley junior point guard Stephanie Turpin said. “We knew that Stanberry was going to be a good team and put in all their effort. We want to continue this season with no losses, so winning this one is big for us.”
Stanberry (10-3) started the game off strong with a 7-5 lead, but back-to-back baskets from Maggie Collins sparked a 12-0 Platte Valley run which ended with consecutive buckets by Langford.
The Bulldogs stayed within striking distance and pulled within 19-18 early in the second quarter, but Turpin drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give Platte Valley its cushion back.
“She distributes the ball really well, but when she is playing with confidence and she is a threat herself, that takes us to the next level,” Platte Valley coach Tyler Pedersen said of Turpin.
Platte Valley (13-0) found adversity after Turpin’s shots though as senior Malia Collins picked up her third foul. With the 4-year starter sidelined, Pedersen inserted Langford back into the game and she rewarded that decision quickly.
“I was a little nervous coming in, but I just buckled down on defense and did what I had to do to help the team out,” Langford said.
A Langford 3-pointer followed by an interior basket gave her team a 33-20 lead. Pedersen says he knew Langford was an outstanding defensive guard, but her offensive game has really improved.
“On the defensive side of the ball, she is really good and she can change a game,” Pedersen said. “Usually when she comes in, she will get a quick steal and she can do so many things defensively. That is something we’ve been on though, is 'hey, we have to do a little bit more on the offensive side.' She did that today and that was huge for us.”
After Stanberry opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Platte Valley answered with a 7-1 run capped by another Langford 3-pointer.
“Malia — it is definitely hard to have her off the floor,” Turpin said. “But it is good to know that Sarah can step in and do her part.”
From there, Platte Valley was able to cruise through the rest of the third quarter and through the fourth for the victory with Stanberry never getting closer than nine points again.
In addition to Langford’s 13 points, Jaclyn Pappert and Turpin each had eight points, Brylie Angle had seven, Maggie Collins had six, Malia Collins had five, Paige West had two and Madelynn Mattson had one.
“The unselfishness is amazing,” Turpin said. “We all know that we have one common goal and that is to win the game.”
Stanberry was led by Taryn Mattson’s 12 and Lexi Craig’s 11.
Platte Valley’s schedule doesn’t lighten up next week with a road trip to Mid-Buchanan on Tuesday and one to East Atchison on Thursday.
“January is kind of a grind,” Pedersen said of the tough upcoming slate.