By Scott Englert
North Kansas City – When North Kansas City sophomore point guard Ja’Mya Powell-Smith went to the floor holding her right leg there was a collective feeling on the Hornet bench of “Oh no, not again”.
Head coach Jeff Lacy walked onto the floor and knelt down next to team trainer Katie McEwen. Seconds later he flashed a smile to the bench and said only one word, “cramps”. It was almost one year to the day when Powell-Smith tore her meniscus in the same North Kansas City Invitational.
“So last year, the championship game of this exact same tournament, when we played Lincoln Prep. The exact same scenario she goes in for a layup, falls down, tore her meniscus and was out for the rest of the year,” Lacy said. “I’m not going to lie that thought went through my mind that I was an idiot for keeping her in there. She’s done it three times (tearing meniscus) she knows when it’s done, but she was laughing, so I could breathe a little easier.”
Powell-Smith and backcourt teammate Chandler Prater led the Hornets (18-1) over state-ranked Kearney (17-2) 64-40 as they scored 20 and 22 points respectively. The game was closer than the scoreboard reflected for most of the night. Midway through the second quarter, the Bulldogs held the advantage over the #2 ranked team in Missouri Class 5. A strong second quarter finish for the Hornets gave them an eight-point lead at halftime.
The second half was dominated by the Hornets as they outscored the #4 ranked team in Class 4, 33-17.
“They hit us early. We haven’t been down even six points in a ballgame. We came back and bounced back and at one time took a three- or four-point lead at one time in the first half. Once they spread it to eight at half, I really thought we’d come out and chip away at it and keep battling and grinding,” Kearney head coach Troy Resler said. “It went south on us real fast and there are only so many timeouts you can call to stop the bleeding. We didn’t give up and they kept fighting. North Kansas City is as advertised. They are really, really good.”
Junior point guard Caroline Kelly led the Bulldogs in scoring on the night with 18 including four 3-pointers. Senior Taylor Frizzell added 11 in only their second loss of the season.
“You have to have adversity because when you get to the playoffs there is adversity in the games,” Resler said. “I don’t know how many teams we’ll play that are as good as North Kansas City.
The Hornets will face the winner of the Lincoln Prep/Schlagle game who plays today at 3:30.
With only a few weeks remaining in the season, Lacy is wishing Father Time would slow down a bit.
“I’ve been wishing for time to slow down for four years with these girls. Special is an understatement with these girls. They are awesome. In the classroom, they have a 3.49 GPA as a team. Or doing community service work and always representing the school in a way it should be represented,” Lacy said. “They are a special group and it has to end at some point and it’s going to be hard for all of us because it truly does feel like a family.”
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