NKC Can’t Complete Comeback, Falls in Home Opener


Brennen Knabe, Writer & Managing Editor

In a battle of two top 25 metro schools, the #12 North Kansas City Hornets took on the #20 Raytown Bluejays, in the season and home opener.

Out of the gate, Raytown touted a more polished, half-court style game, taking advantage of the Hornets youth, and lack of chemistry between an almost entirely new starting lineup. After trailing by as much as 7 in the first, the Hornet offense, led by freshman Avian Webb began to catch themselves, piling up defensive stops. At halftime, Raytown led 26-21.

The Raytown attack was headlined by freshman Ranelo Smith, who had 10 at the break, as well as a few nifty assists on drives. The Hornet defense seemed to neutralize Smith in the third quarter, however with Iverson Neal in foul-trouble, Raytown big man De’Waun Norton seemed to be unstoppable inside.

Despite the size difference with Neal on the bench, the Hornets came out of the break on fire, out-scoring the Jays 19-8, en-route to a 6 point lead at the end of the third, 40-34. Webb caught fire from behind the arc, and junior guard Alex Gunnels seemed more comfortable in the pick and roll.

After re-grouping, Raytown senior Seth Markley went on a 7 point scoring run including a deep triple, and a reverse layup to give Raytown back the lead. The game continued on a back-and-forth roll, until late in the fourth, a few costly missed layups for the Hornets decided their fate.

With under 10 seconds to play, John Elful got a rebound, took it the length of the floor, and through contact, was unable to get his dunk to fall. Hornets lose, 53-51.

Despite the loss, this game has its ultimate bright spots. Avian Webb, the freshman, led all scorers with 19. The Hornet offense showed promise in transition, and despite some sloppy play early, looked good on defense.

The sentiment remains the same for this team, as they have plenty of time to progress as the season goes on. Lots of games coming up at the Hive, check out nkchornets.org for complete schedules for all winter sports!