Wednesday, Dec. 19 2012 4:00PM
Better on boards
LSN gets LSW’s number for second time
By Brian Spano
Special to the Journal
Barely a month into this young basketball season, and already Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West have met for a second time.
After facing one another Nov. 26 in the opening round of the Bronco Girls Basketball Invitational, the venue shifted to West Dec. 17 where both sides were expecting a tough, tight battle, and that’s exactly what they got.
North got the better of their cross-town rival for the second time this season, 42-39, led by junior forward Imani Johnson’s 17 points and seven rebounds and the other junior forward Jaden Powell’s five points and 15 boards.
“They definitely doubled teamed our guards and put full-court pressure on them,” Johnson said of West trying to stop the other players on the court. “They played with intensity and knew what they were doing on the court. I always expect a rivalry game to be that intense.”
Rebounding was the difference in the game. The Broncos (5-3) out-rebounded the Titans (2-5) 32-19 overall and 20-6 offensively.
“We came in here fully expecting to have a battle going to have to squeak out and come away with one hard-fought game, and that’s exactly what happened,” North head coach Tricia Lillygren said. “We were happy with the boards. We played pretty decent defense, but on the boards, we really crashed hard, and Jaden came up with some really critical rebounds.”
Powell was a rebounding machine. She was all over the floor cleaning up shots falling from one side or the other. She was even in the paint after her own missed free throws attacking the ball.
“It’s just what I come out and do every night,” Powell said. “It’s the same thing that we practice and practice. I just put it on the floor and performed. It was a good game by both teams, and we stayed together.”
While North may have won the rebounding battle by a wide margin, for much of the game, both teams stayed with each other on the scoreboard stride for stride. They went into the locker room deadlocked at 24.
West was able to keep it close, sparked by freshman Elle Sandbothe’s 10 points off the bench with nine of those coming in the second quarter. Allison Finneseth led the Titans with 11 points and Taylor Jackson dumped in seven more.
But in the second half, North had just a little bit more with its physical play and experience to help put them over the top and seal the victory late.
For West, this is a team still trying to grow and mature. The Titans have just two seniors, no juniors and a lot of freshmen and sophomores. So the lack of experience will be their Achilles heel for much of the season, but West head coach Kristy Guffey knows there is a bright future ahead for her program.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction, and I think it’s exciting,” she said of the youth in her program. “I believe the thing I enjoy the most is developing the individual player. I do believe that we’re going to be very, very good, and I think that by the time these kids graduate, you will potentially see some Division I athletes come out of here.”