Concordia boys and girls split matchups with Leeton
On Thursday, Feb. 1, all four of the Concordia High School basketball teams (boys and girls, varsity and junior varsity) hosted the Leeton High School Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs in a break from I-70 Conference play. While the varsity boys had no trouble taking down the Bulldogs, the lady O’s could find no answer for the Lady Bulldogs offensively, dropping their matchup against the ninth-ranked Class 1 team in the state (based on rankings from the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association’s most recent poll, conducted on Jan. 31).
In the girls matchup, both offenses were active from the jump as the two teams scored a combined 72 first half points (18-16 LHS at the in the first quarter, 19-19 tie in the second quarter). Senior Oriole Sami Brackman was especially busy for Concordia in the first half, cooking up 10 first-quarter points and seven more in the second.
In the third quarter, however, the Orioles weren’t nearly as efficient offensively, and it took a toll. In that period, the Orioles were outscored 18-10, despite six points from senior Madyson Langkrahr. The Orioles perimeter defense was either particularly inefficient or nonexistent in the quarter, as two Lady Bulldogs were able to pick up four of their combined 11 made three-point field goal attempts in the period (for what it’s worth, only those two Lady Bulldogs connected from outside in the game).
The difficult quarter left the Orioles in a 55-45 hole to start the final frame. While their defense did shore it up quite a bit — allowing LHS only 10 points, three of which came from free throws — it was far too much given the 11-point performance the offense could dig up, leading to the 65-56 final.
Despite her hot start, Brackman only contributed four points in the second half, ending her night with 21 points. Langkrahr covered a bit of the slack in the second half, picking up 11 of her 18 points after the intermission. The O’s also enjoyed five point contributions from junior Jacey Smith, sophomore Kailey Ohrenberg and senior Bethany Steen.
An offensive spark from the bench would behoove the Orioles moving forward, however, as the starting unit picked up all but two points in the game — which is more-or-less on-par with the Orioles average offensive game.
The lack of free throw attempts was a catalyst in this matchup, as the Orioles shot just 7 for 17 from the charity stripe compared to the Lady Bulldogs’ 18 for 31 ratio.
Despite the stellar effort against one of the state’s top teams, the Orioles fall to 9-11 (3-1 in the I-70 Conference) with the loss. It marks their sixth loss in their last seven games, although two five-point-or-less losses and a victory sandwiched in between mark their three games prior to this one.
The Lady Bulldogs moved to 17-2 with the win. Their only two losses came in back-to-back games on Jan. 12 and 13 in the Lakeland Basketball Tournament. The second of those losses came to MOBCA’s current eight-ranked Class 1 team, Hermitage High School (18-2).
In the boys matchup, “momentum” was apparently no more than a word the boys had merely heard in their respective hallways, as neither team seemed to be able to showcase much of it.
The first quarter is the first place of evidence, as the O’s came out smoking-hot with 22 points. 11 of those points came from star junior Matthew Gatewood. They also got it done defensively, limiting Leeton to 13 points. While this is more points than Concordia would have liked to have given up in the quarter, their offensive execution made up for it, as a lead began to grow.
While the first quarter could have crippled them moving forward, the Bulldogs had other plans, matching the Orioles’ first quarter over-under by winning the period 18-9 behind four three-pointers (they had three in the first quarter as well). In doing so, the game went to halftime tied at 31. Gatewood was held scoreless after his red-hot start to the game, but Orioles senior Kade Meineka started to find his rhythm, scoring four points to help the O’s stay close.
Apparently, Gatewood saved his second-quarter baskets for the third frame, as the guard contributed his second 11-point quarter of the game. Similar to the game’s opening period, the O’s were able to match their offensive firepower (21 third quarter points) on the defensive end, holding the Bulldog’s to just 11 points in the third.
With the third quarter deficit working the game up to a 52-42 fourth-quarter start, all the Orioles had to do was coast, and they did, to the tune of a 62-48 final.
Gatewood’s 24 points were a huge boost, as were Meineka’s 13 off the bench. Meineka has been especially useful to the Orioles as of late, contributing solid minutes as the team’s sixth-man. In particular, his offense has provided a spark to the squad in the middle minutes. Normal contributor Tad Gatewood wasn’t needed on the scoreboard, as he tallied just eight points. Junior Cameron Kelly picked up just seven points in his time down-low.
The Orioles advanced to 13-8 (3-1 in the conference) with the victory. Despite momentum not being a factor in this game, it has been a factor over the course of the season. Also true is this: in non-tournament play, the Orioles are 10-1 after this victory, while they are a combined 3-7 in the I-70 Conference Tournament, W-K Holiday Shoot-Out, I-70 vs. MRVC Challenge (Lafayette County Tournament), and Wellington-Napoleon Invitational.
The Bulldogs fall to 11-8 with the loss. After this game, they were 1-3 on the season against I-70 Conference opponents, having split with Lone Jack High School (win on Nov. 27, loss on Jan. 25) and losing to Crest Ridge (Jan. 27) and now Concordia. They took on St. Paul Lutheran High School on Feb. 5 (check out the Feb. 14 edition of The Concordian for the game recap) and will host Sweet Springs High School on Feb. 12.