By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
STANBERRY - Platte Valley got off to a pretty decent start in Saturday's Stanberry Invitational Championship, getting baskets from their usual suspects.
Seniors Page West and Malia Collins each had buckets, but freshman Maggie Collins and sophomore Sarah Langford were sinking shots, too.
Pretty soon, Malia and junior Jaclyn Pappert had three fouls each in the first half, so coach Tyler Pedersen needed more buckets from his youngsters.
He got them.
Platte Valley (13-0) got 13 points from Langford, six from Maggie Collins and a couple threes from Stephanie Turpin in a 50-39 win over Stanberry (9-3) in the tournament championship Saturday afternoon.
Langford admits she was a bit nervous when she went in so early, but any stage fright she had went away quickly.
"I just buckled down on defense and did what I had to do to help the team out," she said.
Besides a three-point win over Maryville on Dec. 11, Stanberry was the only other team to have played Platte Valley within a margin tighter than 26 points.
"It's always good," Coach Pedersen said on getting to play his starters for the majority of the game. "You can always learn a lot where you play in a game where every possession matters. This was one of those games. Stanberry is a great defensive team. They're very, very scrappy and they're going to play hard. They were going to make us earn it and we knew that coming in."
Like everyone else on the Platte Valley side, Pedersen was thrilled to see Langford, a non-starter, step up big when it counted most.
"That was awesome to see," Pedersen said of her performance. "Hopefully, she can build some confidence, because on the defensive side, she's really good and she can change a game. Usually when she comes in, she'll get a quick steal. She can do so many things defensively. But, we 've been trying to get her to do more on the offensive side. She did that today, and it was huge for us."
Langford certainly helped swing momentum early. Stanberry started off with an early lead, but Langford scored four points in the first quarter and five more in the second. Plus, Turpin hit both of her threes in the second quarter as well.
"I've been working a lot harder on my offense," Langford said, "because defense is definitely my strength.
Coupled with Platte Valley's press defense that forced 25 Stanberry turnovers, that offensive effort was enough for Platte Valley to take a 35-22 halftime lead and maintain a double-digit advantage for nearly the entirety of the second half.
"Stanberry had a nice attack, but we made adjustments and forced some turnovers," Pedersen said. "Even though, we had some turnovers of our own in the second half."
Platte Valley's offense slowed a bit in the second half, scoring only 15 points over the final 16 minutes. But, Langford and Pappert each had three-pointers during that stretch to help keep the Bulldogs at bay.
Platte Valley is at Mid-Buchanan Tuesday and East Atchison before taking part in the North Platte tournament on Jan. 25-30.
A No. 2 ranking in Class 1 and an unbeaten record in mid-January certainly garners a lot of attention, but Platte Valley hopes to just build off of a tournament title and keep their impressive run going for the rest of the season.
"January is a grind for us," Pedersen said. "A couple of tournaments and some big conference games in between there. I tell the girls all the time, we want to do the things we do and do them at a high level so we can grab some momentum."
Platte Valley 50 - 17, 18, 7, 8
Stanberry 39 - 13, 9, 6, 11
Platte Valley scorers - Sarah Langford 13, Jacyln Pappert - 8, Stephanie Turpin 8, Brylie Angle - 7, Maggie Collins - 6, Malia Collins - 5, Page West -2, Madelynn Mattson - 1.
Stanberry scorers - Lexi Craig - 13, Tarynn Matson - 12, Morgan Wallace - 6, Astasia Brown - 4, Sadie Runde - 4, Riley McQueen - 3.
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