This weekend wrapped up basketball for the 20-11 season. Six more champions were crowned in Mizzou Arena. It was a wonderful experience for the players, coaches and fans. MSHSAA has introduced additional ways to enhance the production of these games. Let's talk about those "special" moments prior to breaking down the games and teams....
In the pre-game, all players are announced, a high light film of the two competing teams is shown for a couple minutes on the big screen then the lights are dimmed as each starter comes out in a spotlight to meet his opponent. It really is a life-long memorable moment for these players.
The meetings administered by the MSHSAA staff for all the competing teams shortly after arrival makes it easy and enjoyable for the teams not only to compete but to enjoy their "free" time in Columbia, MO.
MSHSAA has taken some progressive steps in the five year tenure of Dr. Kerwin Urhahn. Dr. Urhahn puts the sites for each sport up for bid as he tries to develop a willingness for cities of Missouri who really want these games who will provide lodging, entertainment, restaurants to make this a great experience for all. For example, next year, volleyballl moves to Cape Girardau, softball was placed in Springfield this past fall. Columbia, with its central location, and two college arenas side-side enable MSHSAA flexibility in its scheduling of Final Four events remains an ideal spot for basketball.
Further, MSHSAA has worked closely with coaches when considering post-season formats. Next year changes in playoff systems(football) will occur after a four year trial approach, format of Basketball Final Four was modified in recent years, and a systematic method of communication has made the MSHSAA office accessible and understanding. Many times I hear complaints about MHSHAA doing this or that in the rules. Most people done't realize that MSHSAA doesn't pass the rules-- schools DO ! MSHSAA regulates the rules, guidelines approved by the schools. Our "hats off" to them for their fine work!
Now to some bball....last week I wrote about the tremendous record, team and tradition of Scott county Central. In front of the Governor of Missouri, Mizzou basketball Head Coach-Mike Anderson and several thousand spectators, SCC didn't disappoint. SCC(29-2) jumped ahead 14-5, stretched it to fourteen points at half and kept pulling away gradually. The final was 69-54. All-State Player, Otto Porter entered the game holding the all-time scoring record for the Final Four with 164 points. He scored another 27 to raise the total to 191 points! The fleet-footed, 6-9 center shot 10 of 14, was 7 of 7 from the line, grabbed 9 rebounds and on several occasions cleaned the boards and led the break while dribbling for the Braves. A glowing word for Dadeville. Not as tall, fast or blessed with as much athleticism, this squad moved the ball, attacked the press patiently, was 8 of 16 from beyon the arc and block out viciously under the boards. This team was an outstanding team but they were up against a terrific team. Finishing with an excellent 29-2 mark for the year is what this team should remember and be remembered by their fans. The replayof game maybe heard Scott Cnt Cen-Dadeville which includes the halftime interview of Gov Nixon of Missouri.
What makes a program so powerfull for so many years ? To me, it starts with the coaching. Scott County Central was coached by Ronnie Cookson for many years. While no longer the head coach, Cookson still has an impact on the players and program. The Coach must work hard, never be satisfied, stay "current', the 10,000 hour work rule applies here, have the respect of ALL the players and be able to game plan and bench coach. Not much is it? Who has that resume? Not many, but there are some.
There must be a willingness on the part of the players to "buy in" to all of the Coach's plans. Of course, there must be talent. Usually, that's a code word for speed, jumping ability, strength and quickness. Each of these athletes MUST develop a shooting touch-both from the perimeter and from the inside against bumps, arms and in tight quarters. This skill isn't innate....you have to shoot for hours to "get the touch". The ability to press and to beat opposing presses is also an essential ingredient for success. And..last by not least..these players must practice free throws until they can drain them in the last 4 minutes of every game. 70-80% is often the norm for these great teams. It just takes hours of practice. Some schools have this type of program going right now. Some have had it at some other time of their program but it's slipped away...it can come and go.
In the Class 1 Girls, Marion County had a grueling semifinal win. The Mustangs took their unbeaten mark against the Montrose Lady Jays who were 27-0. It was a battle of the unbeatens. A terrific semifinal game! The Lady Jays held a 45-52 lead entering the 4th quarter and still led by 5 points when Morgan Eye knocked down a 2-pointer to make it 49-44 with only 1:07 left. Jessica Redd, the talented 6-1 soph hit a 3-ball to tighten up things on the next possession. With Montrose still clinging to a 51-50 lead, a free throw was missed at the 10 second mark. Quickly, Marion County raced intot the front court and point guard Randi Lee Plunkett hit the game-winning layup with just 2 seconds left as the Mustangs won 52-51! Would they be able to bounce back emotionally? Or, would they ride the high wave to the next win? Using their blazing team speed, the Mustangs raced out to a 18-10 lead but the Exeter Tigers were "game". Head Coach Jason Cole changed defenses, crashed the boards hard and had Destani Stensrud run the show offensively in the 2nd quarter as the margin was trimmed to just 6- 32-26. But in the long run...maybe it should be the fast run... Marion county led by Jessica Redd (26 points) and Randi Lee Plunkett's 18 points pulled away early in the 3rd quarter and won going away 62-38. Watch out Class 1- Marion County had no seniors and only 2 juniors on the roster !
Class 3 boys, the "unofficial" favorite, Hogan Prep Rams brought their talented, tall, deep, disciplined team into the Championship against a strong Strafford Indian team after a two-OT win over Charleston. Hogan Prep won that thrilling semifinal game 86-79 as Maurice Mason (24), Broderick Newbill(21) and Domonique Washington (19) led the scoring. In the title game, Strafford jumped out on top 5-0 however by the end of the first quarter it was 13-8 Rams. The amazing quickness of the Ram point guard-Soph, Anthony Riddley was a joy to watch. Not driven to score bunches of points, Riddly demonstrated the ability to maintain his lightning speed while changing directions on the dribble. Often, after one or two of these moves a slick pass would set up one of his teammates. Playing a high pressure defense, Coach Steve Stitzer went 9 deep with each bringing in a skill set that would contribute to the team. The relentless defense eventually led to steals and transition baskets, Hogan Prep won their first state title 61-46.
It was fairly obvious what the Stockton Tigers had to do to beat the Herman Bearcats-- stop the prolific scoring of Shelby Winkelmann (28 ppg). The Tigers used their speed, a box & one and ganged up on the ball when Winkelmann had it in her hands. Winkelmann still finished with 22 but Stockton (28-3) jumped ahead 37-27 at half, 53-37 at the 3rd quarter buzzer and won 74-52. The huge 2nd half was due to the incredible play of Chayla Rutledge(Sr-Stockton) who scored 21 of her 29 points in the 2nd half as she "took over" the half court game for the Tigers. Not alone however, the Tigers had three other players in double figures-Sr Kaitlyn Cramer, who demonstrated some twisting, flying layups not usually seen in girls games, finished her high school career with 25 points; Garrett Burton and Ashli Burton both had 10 points.
Class 2 Boys saw a spectacular individual performance. Crane's (27-5)Jr Guard- Levi Cook brought in a 22.5 ppg average. He would almost double his season average in the 77-63 win over the Bernie Mules. Cook dropped in 41 points, had 15 rebounds, 8 assists as he led the Pirates to the Championship. What a night, heh? Bernie(28-5), who loves the 3-ball, gunned up 34 three-point attempts in this contest. Jordan McGowan rang up 5 winners from beyond the arc in the losing effort for Bernie.
The final basketball game of the 2010-11 season in Missouri was the Class 2 Girls Championship. Each team had similar approaches-- an inside and outside punch. For the Couch Lady Indians, it was Alex Hower and Elizabeth Nessling. Filling the same roles for the Purdy Lady Eagles, it was Addy Roller and Shelby White. Couch went on top 17-12 after the first quarter but a "big" 16-3, 2nd quarter for the Lady Eagles found them ahead at half-28-20. Despite Couch's ten fast break points in the quarter, Purdy still had a 3 point lead 39-36 entering the final quarter. Abby Roller hit seven free throws in the last minute to keep the Lady Eagles ahead and they won the championship 55-49. Don't you always have to hit those free throws in the tight games ? Not very original...but all so true.
That wraps up basketball on Prepcasts for the year. We're already in the midst of covering Fontbonne University Softball Season. Charlie Kennedy will have all the regular season and post-season games on Prepcasts. High School coverage will start on March 30 with a baseball game between the Howell Vikings and Glenbrook (Chicago) in the Vikings Tournament. We'l be flying from there. Stay tuned to high school sports on Prepcasts.
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