March 9, 2024

By Fred Liggett

The Lee’s Summit Tigers girls basketball team entered the Class 6, District 6 tournament as the top-seeded team and finished the week long event still on top due to a 57-39 title game win over Ray-Pec. The championship result came after the Tigers went 3-0 during the six-day event.

The Tigers quickly dismissed Ruskin in the opening round 80-34 and followed that up with a 47 to 37 win over Carthage. Then the Tigers, 16-12, took the court at Lee’s Summit West High School on Monday, Mar. 4 to play number three seed Ray-Pec for the tourney title.

A key to the Tigers win was the defensive effort they gave in shutting down the Panthers super sophomore Sophie Terry. Coach Jessica Crawford says the team made Terry “pretty frustrated” as Terry would finish with just four points in the final. The Tigers coaches gave the defensive assignment to senior Tatum Bresette. In addition to Bresette the Tigers would “keep flying around to help out” Crawford says. The goal for the Tigers was to “focus on defense” Crawford admits and could be overheard yelling at her team to “stay with 22” Terry’s jersey number.

The Tigers have a “lot of experience” Crawford feels due to a number of seniors on the 23-24 team. Crawford states “adding Ryann Arnold” a 5’10” freshman helps a lot. The team also feels comfortable with junior Avery Rausch to “control the floor” and senior Adrianna Benassi to “get rebounds.” Benassi crossed the 1,000 rebounds in her career in this district title game. Earlier this season at the Tigers home floor Benassi reached 1,000 points in her high school career.

The success the Tigers have achieved this season was accomplished by more than just the starters. Crawford comments, “Our bench is selfless, a lot of energy and a huge factor.”

Up next for the Tigers is a home game against the Springfield Kickapoo Chiefs. The Tigers, now 17-12, face the Chiefs on the Tigers home court at the LSHS Fieldhouse. Game time on Friday, Mar. 8 is at 6 p.m. A win in this quarterfinal round game will send the Tigers to the Class 6 Final Four in Columbia, MO the weekend of March 15-16.