Platte County Pirate sports fans are accustomed
to success in football and wrestling. But for
them, the sudden good fortune in boys basketball
is something new and exciting.
An undefeated boys basketball team can now be
added to the list of recent Pirate athletic accomplishments
that has included three straight football championships
and multiple state wrestling titles.
Yes, the success of the athletics program at
R-3 has officially moved past the football field
and wrestling mats to the basketball court.
While there may have been a successful season
now and then on the hardwood, it was not something
the district or community became familiar with.
For Rick Hodge, head coach, all of the praises
that have come with the success are preceded by
the teamwork his kids have displayed while on
and off the court.
Were just happy because weve
had some success. Wins and loses, rankings, and
things like that dont really matter. Im
happy with how they are playing, said Hodge.
One thing I tell these guys is I dont
evaluate them on what the scoreboard says, or
what the record says, or what the rankings are.
I evaluate them on what my eyes see and what my
mind tells me.
According to Hodge, what his eyes see and what
his mind tells him is that the team is one that
gels well together.'
The number one key to our success is balance.
I think we are good inside, I think we have good
perimeter play, I think we have got stars, I think
we have got role players, and I think we've got
scoring and rebounding, explained Hodge.
We have a lot of confidence in ourselves
and in each other. The kids stick together in
tight situations, rise to the occasion and find
a way to get the job done.
In order to get that job done, Hodge and his
coaching staff rely on the talent and expertise
of four seniors.
Kirk Stegeman, 64" guard, is referred
to as the best perimeter player on the team."
Kirk is where we get our scoring from,
he handles the ball well, is good under pressure,
and sets up teammates for scoring, as well as
himself, said Hodge.
Athleticism has propelled 66" forward
Lorenzo Riley to be a key contributor to the teams
His athleticism allows him to get putbacks
on the offensive glass and lets us make up for
some of our defensive mistakes, stated Hodge.
He also is able to shut down our opponents
on offensive scoring opportunities.
Danny Hawkins, 66", has also made
a great addition as a wing player,
providing both guard and forward capabilities
to his team.
Hes such a mismatch for our opponents.
There aren't too many schools that can match up
with a 66" on the wing position,
Larry Kroenke, a 66" forward has gotten
much better, according to Hodge.
Larry provides us solid post defense, keeps
the ball alive on the offensive putbacks, and
provides additional scoring.
While the seniors have seemed to receive all
of the accolades for the teams success,
Hodge said three other individuals are also responsible
for where the team stands today.
Juniors, Darell Veal, Taylor Galagher, and Austin
Soendker, all have key supporting roles in the
teams undefeated streak.
They know and accept their role and perform
their role very well, said Hodge.
Every good team has to have good role players.
They are kind of the unsung heroes of this team.
Without them we wouldnt be the team we are.
The top-ranked Pirates in Class 4, fresh from
a 73-61 victory over Smithville Tuesday night,
will meet St. Joe-Benton on Friday, and then will
begin district play at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb.
23 at St. Pius X against the winner of Westport
vs. KC Central.
Were going to prepare as well as
we can for who we play and be ready to step out
onto that floor, said Hodge.
While the team continues to take it one game
at a time, Stegeman said the team just needs to
play their game during districts.
We have a tough district, but if we play
the way we know we can I think well be alright,
Riley agreed with his teammate and believes their
chances of reaching state are insight.
I think are chances are pretty good as
long as we keep playing like were playing
and stay focused, said Riley. Its
been a good year and we just want to keep rolling.
With each win that has come and gone, the R-3
community has been supportive of the teams
Im very happy with the way this community
and school district have embraced this team. Their
support has been unparalleled to that of other
teams, stated Hodge.
One thing I dont think they understand,
is that their volume transfuses energy to us on
the floor and helps the kids out on the floor.
For Riley, this teams success thus far
is a perfect senior farewell.
We were very excited coming into this season
and were very optimistic because we knew we had
a lot of players returning, said Riley.
We planned to have this type of success.
Its been a very exciting season and its
a good way to go out.