CONCEPTION JUNCTION, Mo. —The bigger the game, the more teams are supposed to rely on experienced players who have been there before — at least that is the thought.
Platte Valley (25-0) got big contributions from its upperclassmen too, but Maggie Collins and Brylie Angle weren’t going to just cede the stage because of their age.
“It was definitely awesome,” Collins said. “Playing in front of a crowd like that, those are the type of games that you dream to have.”
The pair of dynamic freshmen led the No. 1-ranked team in Class 1 to a 59-44 victory over Class 2 No. 1 Wellington-Napoleon (19-2) on Saturday night. Collins was a force on the interior with a team-high 18 points and 13 rebounds while Angle sparked the team off the bench with 13 points.
Platte Valley established its interior game immediately with buckets from Collins and junior Jaclyn Pappert to begin the game with a 4-0 lead. The Tigers answered to tie the game a 4-4, but Angle’s first shot off the bench found the bottom of the net from 3-point range.
“Pedersen told us coming in that they focus strongly on their guards and we have the upper-hand in the post, so he said to really focus on getting those offensive and defensive rebounds,” Collins said.
After a Wellington-Napoleon score, Collins came up with a blocked shot which led to a transition 3-pointer by Pappert. The lead got to 14-9 as the first quarter wound down as Angle drove the lane for an easy two.
Platte Valley was hit with adversity though late in the first quarter as starting guards Malia Collins and Stephanie Turpin each picked up their second fouls.
After a brief rest, both rendering early in the second quarter, but each almost immediately got their third fouls with Platte Valley clinging to a 16-15 lead.
Platte Valley has been preparing for a situation like this all season though and with Paige West, Sarah Langford, Angle, Claire Galbraith and Kayley Hauber, coach Tyler Pedersen had plenty of options to throw at Wellington-Napoleon star guard Bree and Ayden Shannon.
“It just shows how deep our team is,” Angle said. “Whenever our starters get in foul trouble and stuff, we always have plenty of people on the bench who can fill in.”
The Tigers captured momentum initially, but the new guards settled in and began pounding the ball inside to the post, where a key reserve was also stepping up. Back-to-back baskets for Sydnee Deen turned a 22-19 Platte Valley deficit into a 23-22 lead and Angle connected on her second 3-pointer of the game to send her team into the locker room with a 26-22 lead.
“We had a lot of people step up in the first half,” Malia Collins said. “Stephanie and I were both in foul trouble so that could’ve proved to be bad, but there wasn’t any slow down. In fact, they ended up scoring more points when we weren’t out there, so that just shows you how good our chemistry is, how well we work together, and how much everyone on this team wants to succeed and wants each other to succeed.”
Malia Collins and Turpin returned to the lineup in the third quarter and suddenly Platte Valley had all its weapons clicking together. Pappert started the half with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Malia Collins finished a driving layup for a 31-22 lead.
“I knew that my role in the second half was to be back out there for my team, so I knew that I had to play a little cleaner and pick it up for myself,” Malia Collins.
Ayden Shannon briefly quelled momentum with a 3-pointer, but Pappert answered with a post move, and each of the Collins sisters scored on put-backs to push the margin to 37-25. The run was 18-3 going back to the second quarter.
Bree Shannon and Angle traded 3-pointers before Wellington-Napoleon closed the quarter with a 6-0 run to draw within 40-34.
The fourth quarter was all Platte Valley though. A 3-point play by Maggie Collins was followed immediately by a Pappert 3-pointer for a 48-36 lead. Paige West’s 3-pointer with 4:40 left put Platte Valley up 51-38.
The Tigers never got back within 10 points again and the game was summed up in the final minutes by a Maggie Collins’ flurry. Pappert missed a free throw with 44 seconds left, but the freshman soared for an offensive rebound. She was fouled and missed both her free throws, but got her own rebound and this time, just scored with a layup.
“When you play as hard as she does and you are as strong as she is — those 50-50 balls, she is going to get them a majority of the time,” Pedersen said. “… I was watching a game the other day and the score was 50-3. Paige West got a steal and Paige hits that layup probably 80 percent of the time, but Maggie sprints down the floor and is there for the rebound. It is just a little testament to how hard she is playing all the time.”
In addition to Maggie Collins and Angle’s big games, Pappert scored 13 points. Malia Collins added six, Deen had 4, Langford had three, and Turpin had two.
“Everybody has their role every single night, and believe me, every single one of our girls showed up, and they fulfilled their roles tonight,” Malia Collins said. “It was incredible to watch, and it was an incredible game to play. It was just a lot of fun all around.”
Ayden Shannon led the Tigers with 18 while Bree Shannon had 11.
Platte Valley now prepares for Wednesday’s Class 1, District 16 semifinal where they will host the winner of Nodaway-Holt and West Nodaway.
“We are definitely all working together at the top of our games right now, so I couldn’t feel better going into districts this week,” Malia Collins said.