With a dominating second half, Lee’s Summit West paid back St. Teresa’s Academy in the Class 5, District 16 final, 61-42, for last year’s district championship game loss on its own floor.
“It was great because we’ve been talking about that the whole time,” said junior guard Taylor Jackson. “Since the beginning of the season we already said we were going to win it.”
The Stars edged out the Titans 59-57 last year. This year, they get to move on and play North Kansas City at 3 p.m. today (March 12) in a Class 5 sectional game at the Independence Events Center.
“They lost to this same team last year,” said West coach Jeff Hardin, “so they got a chance at redemption. They came back, they won it, and this is a big step for them. We’re hoping for big things from them.”
Ogechi Ofodu may have only scored five points, but they were five crucial points that got the Titans back in the game in the third quarter. With West trailing 26-20, Ofodu started a 17-3 run that would decide the game with five straight points coming off the bench.
“Ogechi Ofodu coming in and getting a big seal, getting fouled, getting three out of four free throws, getting a basket on a pass from Calloway, and getting an offensive rebound,” Hardin said, “that turned the game around right there.”
Three minutes into the third, Ofodu went one-for-two from the free-throw line, but Di’Jionae Calloway came up with the rebound and found Ofodu for a layup. Then she made two more from the line to pull the Titans within 26-25.
On an inbounds play, Madi Belanger found Austin Jackson for three-pointer that gave the Titans a 28-26 lead with 2:39 left in the third.
St. Teresa’s Ryan Wilkins tried to kill the momentum and answered with a three for the Stars, but that was their only bucket in a span of six minutes.
And when Jackson canned another three from the left side to put them up 37-29 early in the fourth quarter, the Titans exploded.
“It was just the intensity that came up,” Jackson said. “Our shot from Austin Richardson, that just lit it up right there. That just lit it up. And our offensive rebound from that free throw we had, that just lit up the team.”
Richardson finished the night with 15 points, just behind Calloway’s 16 for the team high. Jackson added 12 points.
In the last 3:30, the Titans scored 16 of their 20 points from the charity stripe to seal the game. The Titans finished 28 of 40 from the stripe.
Those 20 points in that short time span was more than the Titans scored the entire first half as they came out a little cold. Until Casey Cunningham hit a three-pointer in the last minute of the first quarter, the Titans were stuck at just three points and trailed 12-6 at the first break.
At the 5:23 mark in the second, the Titans found themselves down 16-7. Converting from the free-throw line helped narrow the gap to 19-16 by halftime.
“They calmed down,” Hardin said. “They got their feet underneath them. They came out — their eyes were big. The game was a little big for them there at the beginning. They got their feet underneath them, and what really helped their offense was stopping them on defense.”