STANBERRY, Mo. — When a team pulled out of the Stanberry Tournament, Platte Valley jumped on the chance to put its junior varsity to the test by allowing them to play as the eighth seed.
“It was a great opportunity to just be able to play,” Platte Valley junior varsity coach Charlea Lewis said. “Getting some JV games has been a little bit difficult, so it was a great opportunity to just play.”
With 23 total players on the roster, Platte Valley's top 11 players were kept aside for the varsity team which is seeded first in the tournament, undefeated and currently ranked second in the state after a state runner-up finish last season.
“We knew that this was an opportunity for us to grow as a team,” Platte Valley freshman Christina Turpin said. “We knew that we've scrimmaged harder teams — we scrimmage our varsity in practice — so we came into the game knowing that we were going to put our best effort in.”
The Platte Valley junior varsity forfeited the opening round of the tournament against its own varsity, but got the chance to test themselves against varsity competition in the consolation semifinals. That test was not an easy one with fifth-seeded Worth County (6-7) waiting for them.
“We were all really excited as you would expect,” Platte Valley sophomore Kayley Hauber said. “We were all excited to play against a really great team.”
The junior varsity group gave the Tigers all they could handle, but fell 38-34.
Despite it being a varsity game, Lewis made sure to play her lineup like a junior varsity game would be and get everyone on the roster substantial minutes.
“That is always important to give them all that experience,” Lewis said. “Against a varsity team, some of them don't get that experience of getting into varsity games, so that experience is always great.”
Platte Valley jumped on the more experienced Tigers early in the first quarter with Samantha Terry scoring on the interior and freshman Kali Redden knocking down a 3-pointer.
Worth County had the answer though and locked into its press. The Tigers rattled off 13-straight points including the first bucket of the second quarter.
“There could have been a point in there where we just quit, but we didn't and that was great,” Lewis said.
Platte Valley fought back with back-to-back buckets by Hauber. After Worth County came back with a 3-pointer, Terry and Turpin each scored on the interior and Turpin added a foul shot to pull Platte Valley within two.
“I'm very happy with our effort,” Turpin said. “Our effort was phenomenal. There are just a few things that we have to work on, like playing smart. Coach (Tyler) Pedersen always says, 'Play hard, play smart, play together.' We had the together and we had the hard. We just have to work in practice to play smart.”
Worth County took a 20-16 lead into halftime and immediately extended it to 24-16. Platte Valley continued to fight though and cut it back to four with buckets by Terry and Redden. The Tiger lead was 26-22 going to the fourth quarter.
Turpin scored through contract to cut the margin to 31-28. She missed the 3-point play opportunity, but Platte Valley forced a tie-up on the rebound. Turpin made it a 4-point possession to cut the lead to 31-30.
After the teams traded baskets, Hauber gave Platte Valley its first lead since the opening minutes with a layup for a 34-33 margin.
Worth County leaned on its seniors in crutch time though and was able to close it out with a basket by senior Megan Cassavaugh giving the Tigers back the lead with 1:15 left. The Tigers sealed the game with a basket from senior Morgan Beagle and then a free throw by senior Braidy Hunt with seven seconds left for the final 4-point margin.
“I thought our effort tonight was fantastic," Lewis said. "We just have some little things that we can learn from.”
With no seventh-place game, Platte Valley's junior varsity's run in the Stanberry Tournament is over, but the varsity begins its run on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., against fourth-seeded King City.