Perennial Powers Collide Tonight at NKC Invitational

By Scott Englert

North Kansas City – The new fieldhouse on the campus of North Kansas City will host the most high-profile game in the state tonight when the second-ranked MSHSAA Class 5 North Kansas City Hornets will take on the fourth-ranked MSHAA Class 4 Kearney Bulldogs in the semifinals of the 40th Annual North Kansas City Girls Basketball Invitational at 6:30.

The Hornets (17-1) are led by senior Kansas commit Chandler Prater who is averaging nearly a double/double each game with a 17 points per game and 8 rebounds per game average.

Senior LaJahada Boyland has been a big factor in the Hornets impressive start to the season. She is averaging almost double-digit rebounds per game for head coach Jeff Lacy’s team.

“We have had a good season thus far. Our girls have worked extremely hard to get where they are at this point. The best part is they recognize we have a lot of work to do to keep up with William Chrisman in our conference and the district we are in is absolutely loaded,” Lacy said. “We have to bring our ‘A’ game every night or it could cost us in the long run.”

Kearney (17-1) head coach Troy Resler knows it’s going to take a complete effort to defeat the Hornets on their home floor.

“North Kansas City is as good as advertised. They have the returning Direnna award winner and they have players around her that are really good. They are well coached and extremely athletic,” said Resler. “For us to be successful we will have to attack on offense and limit the paint touches on the defensive end. The rebounding battle will be key because allowing them extra opportunities is dangerous.”

Leading the Kearney attack is senior Taylor Frizzell who has committed to William Jewell college to continue her education and playing career. The Bulldogs will need a big night out of Frizzell and her backcourt junior teammates Caroline Kelly and Abby Couch if they hope to advance to the championship game on Friday night.

“We are playing really well. Our guards are playing at a very high level and we rotate four post that are all solid and play their roles very effectively,” said Resler who guided the Bulldogs to a third-place finish at state last season. “This tournament is a beast. For the second year in a row, we enter the tournament with one loss and are the 4 seed.”

Coach Lacy loves what this tournament offers to his team and with post-season play only a few weeks away this will certainly test his experienced Hornet squad.

“Kearney is a machine. Every year Troy puts out great teams so we know tonight is going to be a battle. They have quick and great shooting guards combined with posts that do a fantastic job of all the little things so we are hoping to find ways to counteract that,” Lacy said. “Our girls are excited to have the opportunity to play them because they know anything less than our best effort tonight will most likely result in a loss. This is the type of game late in the year you love to get you ready for districts.”

You’d be hard pressed to find a tougher tournament in the state than the NKC Invitational as the top four seeds are all ranked in the top five of their respective classes. The lone Kansas school in this year’s field is sixth-seeded Schlagle and they are getting votes in the Class 5 KSHSAA poll. They upset the #4 team in Class 5 in Park Hill South during opening round action 55-52.
They will take on Lincoln Prep tomorrow at 3:30 for a chance to advance to the championship game on Friday night.

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