Lee’s Summit girls basketball coach Jessica Crawford puts her team through intense practices. Lots of conditioning. Plenty of up-and-down drills.
But for all their hard work, the Tigers had yet to see success in Suburban Conference Big Six play, stumbling out of the gate 0-3.
On Feb. 3, Lee’s Summit finally got a little payback for all that effort, notching its first win of the Big Six season with a 68-49 victory over Raymore-Peculiar at the Tigers’ gym.
“We gave a really great team effort today,” Crawford said. “It gives the kids a reward for all the hard work they’ve been putting in. My girls work really hard for me every single day. To finally see them get that reward is nice.”
Lee’s Summit, 6-11 overall and 1-3 in the Big Six, earned that reward with a solid team effort. Junior guard Bailey Baird broke loose for a game-high 23 points while senior point guard Taylor Gilkey scored 13 with three three-pointers. Gilkey also put the clamps on Ray-Pec’s Meghan Maher, holding the Panthers’ leading scorer to nine points.
And junior guard Eriyanna Jones, who rejoined the team after Christmas break, nearly had a triple-double off the bench with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight steals.
“This was a huge boost for us,” Baird said. “We just try to keep improving every game and this was a huge improvement tonight.”
That improvement showed in the third quarter, when Lee’s Summit turned what had been a close game into a rout. Lee’s Summit only led 13-12 after the first quarter, and the Panthers managed to stay within 28-23 by halftime.
Then Baird caught fire in the third quarter, driving the lane for most of her 11 points in the period. Gilkey added two three-pointers, and the Tigers pulled away to a 53-36 cushion by the end of the period.
“She came out on fire,” Crawford said of Baird. “She is such a tough matchup because she has such a high jump shot. She actually has the best vertical in the school, and she’s someone who can really take advantage of that.”
Taylor Koper scored 13 points to lead Ray-Pec, which fell to 5-13 and 0-3. The Panthers also got 12 points from Toni Martin.
But it wasn’t enough to keep the Tigers from their hard-earned reward.
“Getting a win under our belt was great,” Baird said. “It just gives us more confidence going into the other conference games. This was just a good boost.”