Like so many others in Lee’s Summit last week, Madison Belanger found herself homebound.
For most high school students, an unexpected weeklong break might seem like a good thing. But for Belanger and her Lee’s Summit West girls basketball teammates, the time off was an unwelcome chill in the heat of their season.
“I haven’t been able to get out of the house – mom won’t let me leave, so I do workouts at home,” Belanger said. “I try to make them as difficult as I can.”
But there’s only so much you can do away from the gym. And it showed on Feb. 6, when West and Lee’s Summit met at the Titans gym. The Titans prevailed 40-32, but both teams showed the effects of the prolonged break.
“You knew they had to be rusty,” West coach Jeff Hardin said. “We were in the gym Monday and that was it until today. Awfully hard to play a game like that.”
West did get a practice in the day of the game, their first since last Tuesday’s snowstorm paralyzed the area and shuttered Lee’s Summit’s schools for a week. The long shutdown forced Hardin and Lee’s Summit coach Jessica Crawford to find ways to make sure their players didn’t turn into couch potatoes.
“I had them contact me with what exercise they did at home,” Crawford said. “If it was running a treadmill or doing pushups during commercials, just staying active. I wanted them looking at our film from the games.”
All those home workouts however couldn’t keep both teams from looking ragged most of the game. West never trailed after taking a 10-3 lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 13 in the third, but the Tigers were still able to close within four points early in the fourth quarter.
“We started playing safe,” Belanger said. “We tried to get comfortable with what we were doing, and we shouldn’t be comfortable because a 10-point lead can be taken away from you in three possessions.”
Lee’s Summit could have made things more interesting if some easy shots around the basket had gone in. And West helped the Tigers’ comeback by missing eight of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter and going nine for 22 from the stripe for the game.
Both coaches though still found some things to like. Belanger scored eight points (second on the Titans to Elle Sandbothe’s team-leading nine) and shut down Lee’s Summit sharp-shooter Mo Mosier, who took only two shots and scored four points.
“Maddie Belanger did a great job on Musier,” Hardin said. “That was a big deal for us. She did a great job of locking her down.”
Lee’s Summit enjoyed another solid game from reserve Eriyanna Jones, who led the Tigers with 10 points. Taylor Gilkey had eight points and provided the spark that got the Tigers going in the second half.
“It just didn’t fall our way,” Crawford said. “We had the opportunities but we just kind of fell short. I don’t know if it was the lack of practice or focus or both.
“It’s been kind of an odd week. It was hard to get going today.”